Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mince pies, biscuits, meringue........

Morning, all.
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Mince pies. Fruit mince.
I made the mistake of popping in to the local giant supermarket early this morning, and came face to face with the "pile them high and sell them cheap" thing supermarkets do best. And I immediately thought - I need that. I must get that - such a bargain. And then I remembered that I have ordered our fresh vegetables from our local farmer and I do not need anything more. 

STEP AWAY FROM THE SUPERMARKET, LINDS. 

So I did. 

We have more than we need.  More than we could possibly need. 

Nothing fancy, mind you, but even in the toughest of years, there has always been more than we have needed. And believe me, there have been tough years. The secret to the tough years and survival, by the way, is to make things into a game. I am exceptionally good at that particular game. I could write a book if I was so inclined. I am not, by the way. 

I digress. 


There has been the annual mince pie and biscuit (cookie) baking marathon in progress around here. The house smells great and very festive and the tins are full-ish. My family keep eating things, but, as they point out, it is for them anyway. They are right. I can bake more. Now that I have replenished the baking supplies. I still have a roll of pastry I made for mince pies in the fridge, which must be used. I will make something this afternoon. 

I was so pleased with my 41 mince pies (odd shaped baking trays = odd number) until, so help me, my sister messaged us a photo of HER mince pies. Her husband has made over 200. So I am feeling a trifle inadequate even though 41-9=32 or so is still MORE than enough for us.  (See above.)

We always were a competitive lot.

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I had to include one of the church photos. As we arrived, with Diana on her scooter with her red and white candy cane striped cast, our little 2 year old friend on her scooter arrived too. Dressed in red and white striped tights. They were a matching pair and SO excited! The cuteness was just off the scale. 

Anyway. 

Back to the baking. 

As always, after baking the mince pies, I had egg whites left over from the pastry, and this year I decided to make a pavlova instead of individual meringues. We can have a pavlova on Boxing Day. For those who are unfamiliar with them, they are essentially a cloud of meringue, named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina and they are New Zealand's national dish. I think. They are a great Southern Hemisphere favourite. You make normal meringue mixture, then dollop it onto a baking tray covered with baking paper in a circular fashion. Preferably the size of a dinner plate TIN. A few inches high. Then bake as normal and leave in switched off oven over night. I did this. I am a star. And then discovered that I had been over-generous with my Pavlova size and there was not a single tin large enough to take it in the entire universe. So I ended up wrapping it in greaseproof paper, cling wrap, and then putting it in a plastic storage box under the kitchen table. 

I will forget where I put it. 

You serve it on a large plate, piled with whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit, or berries. Divine. Seriously delicious, and perfect after left overs the day after Christmas. (Boxing Day.)

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MY Pavlova in hiding. 

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Custies, of course. I tried replacing them with another biscuit one year as gifts and that didn't go down too well. So custies rule. They are delicious too. 

And now I want to introduce you to the grand old lady who has been my faithful baking and cooking friend for my entire adult life. 


This is the Kenwood Chef I got as a wedding present in March 1976. Apart from one little mishap when my sister used an open grill right next to it and melted a hole in the side of the bowl (I still used that bowl for years until I swiped my mother's whole one - I just covered the hole with a tea towel when adding flour, or it sprayed the entire kitchen with the white stuff) it has never given me a single problem. I have just ordered a new K beater, because this one needs to be retired. So it will be 39 years old next March. 

39 years old. 

How many modern day appliances would last that long? I don't need new fancy things, you know. I like Old Faithfuls. I asked a friend of mine who also had an ancient Kenwood before she got a Kitchen Aid machine  a few years ago what it did that the Kenwood couldn't do. 

Not a thing she said. 

Old Faithful stays. 


And finally, this is my darling daughter in "leave the house" mode. Complete with scooter, candy cane cast and crutches. She is over the hump, so to speak. 3 weeks down already and less than 3 to go now. It is tough having limited mobility, but she is being a star. 

The post man has just called and I now have a little more wrapping to sort - I will be back in the morning......

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I should be doing things on the "to do" list, but.............

I have been reading some of my favourite blogs this morning - and a word leapt out and caught my attention over at Vee's place. This word is at the heart of what I am supposed to do. How I am supposed to shape my life. My days. A word about which I have read a great deal. I understand the theory, but oh boy, do I fail miserably at the practice. And that is why I am a wreck every couple of days. Every evening. This can be verified by my children. They take photos of me slumped in the chair fast asleep. Probably drooling. {shudder}  Lovely kids I have. 

Pacing. 

Pacing myself. 

Slowing down. Being mindful. 

Saying no. Focusing on one thing.

Miserable failure. 

Seriously. I am so bad at this that I amaze myself. It is as if I am not ready to admit things are different, in a sense. Slow down, Linds. But what if there is not enough time? Does it really matter? But I have stuff I want to do. It can wait. Yes, but...... And therein lies the problem. I have a "Yes, but" answer to everything in the Entire World. 

I suspect I am not the only one. So in the new year, I am going to make a conscious effort to try out the pacing idea a bit more thoroughly. It is my mind, you see, it never stops racing about all over the place. 
I am doomed. 

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On to more seasonal things. 

Do you see the little Christmas Care Bear there on the tree? A long time ago, it was my ornament of the year. Diana adored all the Care Bears. Every traveller we knew brought back another one from the States. She had them all. 

Geoff built her a big shelf up high in her bedroom, and cut out and painted white clouds made of wood. Then he nailed them to the front of the shelf, and she had all her Care Bears up there in the clouds, looking down on her while she slept.

She was about 3 at the time. 

Care Bears were very important people. 
(Remind me to tell you about plane trips with her. We had to ask the pilot to look out for Care Bears in those clouds.)

So I invented Christmas Bear. He was very cute. I gave him to all my friends, and wherever they ended up in the world, little red Christmas bears appear on their trees every year. 

Considering he is roughly 30 years old, he has weathered the ravages of time rather well, I feel. 

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I also wanted to show you the Noel ornament up there at the top of the (dark) photo. See it? Well, it is something that hung over the fireplace at my parent's home every single year. I found it in the bottom of a box this year and rescued it. So many memories of hot summer Christmases. 

(The double "s", or any letter, seems to be dropped - apart from the "p" - by autocorrect.  We still do things a little differently in the UK!)

Speaking of Noel, I unpacked my 4 blocks of red letters which spell out NOEL. I love them. However, I seem to have misplaced the "O". NEL does not have quite the right ring to it, does it? I have NO idea what I have done with it. Hopefully it will turn up.

By then, I will have lost the N, E and L, of course. 

Pace yourself, Linds. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Legs and eyes and a whole lot of stuff.........

I vanished again. I have a perfect excuse, of course. You will hear all in a sec. I have a doctor's appointment in 15 mins and my daughter has one too. It takes us time to get anywhere. I will tell all, I promise. And the new template? It is temporary. Until I can find a festive one. Or do something. It is red.

Red is festive.

And so is this.
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As you can see. My daughter has a candy striped cast. Or a Where's Wally? cast.

Two weeks ago, she had surgery to fix her foot. Five operations in one, or maybe 4. She now has a metal plate and screws in her foot,  4 incisions, bone removed from hip and inserted into foot, and much fiddling with ligaments and tendons. And she is now in the non-weight-bearing phase. This will last till the new year and then a boot will be entering our lives too, for a few weeks, while she has physio etc etc. 

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She has also rented a knee scooter to help her manage her life because the crutches are exhausting. So the wonderful wheeled thing is packed into the boot (trunk) of the car and off we go to the supermarket, or wherever we need to go. 

Life is certainly interesting. 

We(She) have(has) had a pink cast, followed by a purple one and now candy striped. Heaven knows what will come next. But candy striped is very good for Christmas.

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I was waiting for vegetables at our local farm when I took this photo. It just looked stunning with the fog (which was icy) down in the valley. Irrelevant, but pretty. 


So, before her op, as she is unbelievably organised, she masterminded the removal from the loft of all essential Christmassy things, and we stored them throughout the house until the start of Advent on the 30th. And then I decorated the house. 

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With most of the usual [pieces, only I must have left a few vital boxes up there, and cannot be bothered to go and hunt them down. So I improvised. And I also made enough Christmas bunting for the nook as well. It was looking very bare. Yes. In my house. A scandal. 

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One of the boxes forgotten up in the roof had all the things I keep for my kitchen/family room. So instead of using greenery in the advent ring, I used masses of baubles, with some painted pine cones, some ribbons and gold bead chain, and it worked out just fine. Especially at night!

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The tree was decorated, new lights bought and draped on it and it looked beautiful, then............... 
just wait for the next instalment of the saga
.......................

I decided to clean my house. 

Cleaning is vastly over-rated, people. Believe me, I know this. I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner. It has great suction power. `And I got just a little too close to the cable for the Christmas tree lights, and it devoured it, and crunched to a halt just before it yanked the entire tree over and gobbled that up too. 

I had to perform major surgery on the Dyson to release the cable and clip, which had been stripped  down to bare wires. 

You. Have. No. Idea. 

We now have a blacked out section of the tree. I do have another set of lights waiting in the wings, should any more expire for whatever reason. I could not believe it happened. I sort of flung myself on the floor to try and wrestle with the machine and unravel the cable before logic kicked in and I switched it off. And unplugged it. It was like trying to stop a hungry alligator. I have no idea what possessed me to think I could stop it by hand. 

One of my finer moments. 

Sigh. 

I also have new glasses. There have been many medical type of appointments and outings. Nothing exciting, but just many of them. And I will now go and cook for the rest of the mob, and come back tomorrow to continue.......

Saturday, November 08, 2014

I flew away.......

Hello, my friends - I have not vanished again. Actually, the trip to the poppies was kind of an experiment. To see if I could survive travel. A long story. So, I survived a trip to London. A brief trip. 

Things have been happening around here......

On that basis, on Wednesday of the same week, I decided to go to Switzerland, and booked a ticket for the next day. Thursday. And was ably assisted onto the plane and flew away. My sister had a few hours warning of my imminent arrival. 

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She remembered who I was. 

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There was snow on the ground when I got there. 

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It had vanished by the time I left. Last Sunday.

I had 10 days of glorious weather. Well, there was one day of rain and fog, but that was not a problem, because I was exhausted and consequently we will ignore it. The first Saturday I was there. After that, just blue skies and sun. Fantastic. There are many photos, but there is time for that. Tomorrow. 

Last Sunday, I was homebound. An important date on the calendar, you see. 

On Monday and Tuesday, I looked after my friends' dog across the village, and on Wednesday, we all packed ourselves into the car and headed south to the coast on our Adventure. 

We arrived in Bournemouth just in time for sunset. It was spectacular. The sea could not have been more still. A millpond. Just glorious. 


The next day, however, was TOTALLY different. So different that we had to head for Asda. A great emergency, because 3 out of the 4 of us had forgotten our coats. And it was freezing, windy and eventually wet as well. To my daughter's complete horror, we now have matching coats. Different colours, but a bargain. And they have the best and hugest hoods in the galaxy. (Asda = Walmart, by the way.)(Emergency = cheap = bargain = absolutelyperfectthankyou)

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;-)

The reason for our Adventure is this young man. It was his graduation ceremony at the university and he now officially has his MSc in Forensic Osteology. We are so very proud. 

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How did my toddler grow into a man so rapidly?

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There is another holder of a Masters Degree in this house. Granny has a Masters in English Literature. She was so delighted and so excited and actually looks stunning with David's mortar board perched on her curls. I just wish we could have found her appropriate robes to wear as well. But what a day it was. 

And then there was a nap. 

And we came home yesterday. 

Now the washing machine is beeping, and the fridge needs sorting. I will recap on Switzerland and Bournemouth and fill in the interesting bits later. 

My absence was excusable, you see. Oh - the reason I couldn't post in Switzerland, and I did try, believe me, is that somehow my daughter is still logged into Marge's google, and no matter what we did, we could not "un-log" her. Every time I tried to log into the blog, it popped up with Diana's Google account and would not let me select another option. So I decided life was too short to freak out and walked away. Out the door, with the sticks and camera, to soak up the scenery. A much better idea. 

I will be back.......

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blood swept lands and seas of red.........

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On Monday, I woke up and decided to go to London. 

I wanted to go to the Tower, to see the poppies. 


So I caught the train at 11, got to London before 12, hopped on the Circle line (new tubes with no carriages!) and I was at Tower Hill before I knew it. Thankfully, the walk was not far at all, because let me tell you, trains vibrate. This is not good. 

I knew what to expect, because my children and friends have been in the past few months, as the poppies have spread, and I have seen the photos, but nothing quite prepares you for the sea of red. Every single ceramic poppy - all different heights - represents one British military death in World War 1. 

All 888,246. 

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They pour our of the window in the Tower, down onto the moat - and spread in all directions.

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Then the wave soars up and into another section. 

Every day, volunteers place more, until November 11th, 100 years after WW1 began,when the final one will be placed. 
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Blood swept lands

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and seas of red......

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Thousands and thousands of people go to see the poppies every day. Schools too. I can't tell you how many people there are there, and yet it is respectful, and the awe is tangible. You cannot help but be unbearably moved when you think of all those young lives - and some were so very young. My grandfather fought in WW1. He lived. 
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I had to ask a random stranger to take my photo, because I couldn't quite manage the selfie with stick, bag, wind and all. We did manage to avoid the rain. 

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I found a cup of coffee, and sat down near the river to drink it and reflect, and then I wandered slowly  back to the tube. Back to the station, and back onto the train and home again by 3.30. 

I am so very glad I went. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thoughts from around 2am in the dark........

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Thinking. 

I was just thinking. 
Actually, I do my best thinking  around 2am. It is amazing what the brain can come up with in the early hours. 

Anyway, I was thinking about how unfair the global financial meltdown was. It was precipitated by mistakes/errors by the bankers. Not the little people. 

So can anyone please tell me why the governments didn't make the banks pay for the mistakes/errors, and put things right, but rather, rewarded them all by first bailing them out and then letting them keep All The Money as things recovered, and instead, wait for it, decided that the little people would pay. And Pay. And Pay. And Pay. Forever and a day. The evil bankers get the bonus cheques every year. Little people get smaller pay packets. And the best bit is that the banks get to decide if the little people can every get any help. Like mortgages. Loans. 

It seems all very wrong indeed. More than wrong at 2am. 

Then I started thinking about getting a wheelchair. 
Pick yourselves up off the floor this instant. Yes, this is me speaking. The one who refuses to contemplate the advent of the wheelchair while there is still breath left in me. That still stands. Stands. 

Hahahahaha. 

You see, I am sick and tired of missing stuff. Stuff like concerts, weddings, shows, singing, parties, bands, music, films, church worship services. Anything involving noise or vibration. Music. Things I LOVE. I want them back. Now. So, at 2.05am sometime last week, I thought about getting a wheelchair, and experimenting with rubberised thicknesses to cover the seat, back, arm and foot rests which would absorb vibration and some sound waves and let me take part. Be there. Go to shows. I may still need earplugs as well, but it would be better than either being convulsed in a corner or at home. 

I am known for my willingness to compromise. Ahem. 

I am prepared to consider the option. I have no idea if I can find something to work but I will ponder the idea. It may work. You never know. 

Another 2.10am thinking session much more recently, as in this morning, focussed on the advisability of erecting the new shed-in-a-box until after the tail of the Bermuda hurricane passes on Tuesday. I have visions of the new shed-in-a-box flying over the fence, even with the world's heaviest toolbox anchoring it down. I need to think about that in the next couple of hours before my children decide to construct it anyway. 

Words come easily when the darkness is deepest. Maybe it is because of the silence, the obliteration of the incessant noise of modern day life. There is so much truth in the need to seek, and indeed, to welcome, silence. And to learn to quiet the brain. For me, the early hours seem to work best, even though this is not by choice, of course. Only a lunatic would think making an appointment with oneself to think at 2am was in any way sensible or reasonable. 

Words = thoughts. Ideas. Stories.  

At 2.15am, I always have a plethora of stories to tell. The detail is perfect. The idea rock solid. And then I fall asleep and when I wake I can barely remember my name, never mind the intricacies of the story I wrote in my head at 2whatever. 
Sigh. 
I do remember the bank page. And the words forming. They say just write anything, anything, and in time, the story will emerge. 

That is one of the reasons I have always loved blogging here. I am able to say what I want to say. I use my own life to illustrate things, as well as I can. We are all individuals. We all have preferences, ideals, ideas, dreams, loyalties, viewpoints, experiences of our own, no two the same. We all have our own story to tell. 

You cannot know how or why I am who I am here any more than I can do the same for you. I choose how much I share. There may be many words, but a very high percentage of Linds is not to be found here. 

And that is where there is a very big problem for many bloggers, who have not got a business plan in their pocket, but the dream of creating something which may in time to come, be something our children can look back on and see their parent. 
Mother, in my case. Me. 

I would love to create a memoir for them, but cannot here in an open forum, so other options have to be considered. (I am on an "other option" learning curve, it seems, see the wheelchair above.) 

At 2am, there always seems to be oceans of time to spare. 
The reality comes with dawn, of course. 


And now, I am going to go and relax with my crochet hook and a cup of coffee. And just enjoy time without any hurry. 
Have a lovely Sunday. 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Soapbox time here - we discuss the words "dreaded pop-in".............


Hello, everyone - the weekend has arrived and with it some grey skies. So warm though.

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The tree at the top of the road has just remembered that Autumn is here. I have not edited the photo in anyway - straight out of the phone. The colours are just breathtaking against the blue sky, aren't they? 

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In a few days, it could be even more spectacular. I will be watching it closely. Well, I have to pass it whenever I go anywhere at all, so that is a no-brainer. The beauty of mobile phones means that cameras are always with us. I remember days (about a year ago) (that makes us all sound ancient - in the good old days....last year) when I saw a spectacular sunset and had to rush home for the camera but then, so help me, the sun had gone by the time I got back to photograph it. Now there is no excuse. 

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Just gorgeous. 

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Yes. I was standing in the middle of the road but there was no traffic at that moment. None at all. And i had my stick so drivers would have thought I was a doddery old soul pottering across the road and slowed down. Maybe. 
But I was FINE. 

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And looking up to my left from the middle of the road vantage point, is the church on the hill. Leaves are starting to fall. 

I had just been to the hairdresser to have my hair washed and dried. I have this amazing gift token which I received for my birthday and I can go and have my hair washed as and when I need to until it runs out. Having to avoid the soap and water in the eye thing means that this is a total delight. And one of my favourite things to do. I LOVE having my hair done. 

Photo on 16-10-2014 at 12.22

And I can never ever get it to look as nice when I do it myself. My little hairdresser is a star.

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Another photo. So very beautiful. 

And now we get to the Soapbox time. 

I read a post on Blogher yesterday about Pop-ins. And then I read the comments, and I was absolutely staggered at the number of people who loathed what they termed pop-ins. Even the photo used to illustrate the article was negative, in my humble opinion. Hang on, let me find the link for you, so you can see for yourself.......


There you go. 
I come from a culture where popping in was the norm. Let me refine that a little.  Illustrate it.

When we lived in Cape Town, our home was around the corner from my son's prep school. So, because parking is always a nightmare at schools, all my friends used to park at my home and pop in for tea while they waited for the boys. This may have been for hours if there happened to be after school activities. It was hilarious. The boys used to wander around as and when they felt like coming home, and their mothers would trundle off after they had all had refreshments and played a bit. My house was like Grand Central Station. In fact, a neighbour thought I ran an after school childcare place. I loved every minute. Sometimes, we decided to pile everyone into a couple of people carriers and head for the beach with a picnic supper, and the men would meet us there from work. Life happened spontaneously. And those, people, are the memories which linger. 

 Popping in was something everyone I knew did until I arrived in the UK and discovered that the door never flew open, the bell never rang, and the house was eerily silent most days. So then I set about encouraging friends to pop in whenever they were passing, if they needed company, if they wanted to show someone something, needed advice, whatever. And slowly, over the last 24 years, I have conquered their fear and now the door flies open, the bell rings and all is right with the world. 

I have been known to greet friends with a shopping bag on the head, while painting. I have been covered with flour while baking. Mud when gardening. I even have a little sign I made which I hang on the window at the front door if I am out in the back garden and can't hear the bell. In fact I also bought a bell with extra speakers so I COULD hear it outside too. 

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I have just noticed that my daisy is dead. I will have to fix or replace her. Oops. But you can see the little sign. 
It works. 

You see, I really love having people pop in. They know where the kettle, the supplies and the mugs are. If I am in the middle of something I can't stop, they can make the coffee/tea, and watch or help. They can pull up a chair or stool, or perch on the counter as I finish putting a cake together. They can grab a paintbrush if they want to. It is all about doing life together. 

Yes, there are, of course, times when it is not convenient. The mood is black. The pain is too high. But then, you see, my friends can step in and help too. And yell at me for not telling them they were needed sooner. 

Nothing saddens me more than the reports of people lying dead in their homes for weeks before being discovered. 

Most of the people commenting on that post were, I think, younger than me. I know that privacy is important. I know that independence is good. I understand the need to not interfere. I know people work from home. 

One of my closest friends worked from home when the kiddies were in Junior school. I used to drop my children, and pop in then, at about 8.45 for a cup of coffee. And you know, I was gone by 9 because I knew she started work then, and she loved me having coffee with her before our day got started. Just because you pop in, does not have to mean you stay forever. 10 minutes, half an hour. But as long as you need sometimes. Because there are always those times when you need to be with people. Or they need to be with you. 

Time marches on, though. Inexorably. And here I am, 60 years old. A granny, mum, friend, daughter, sister, whatever. Also a widow. And let me just say here loud and clear, that loneliness is horrendous. Choosing to be alone is a totally different thing. Loneliness is the pits. 

I am so very thankful that my friends all know they are welcome here without announcement. There is always room to pull up another chair, introduce friends to each other, extend the circle, which in turn becomes my community. My people. My world. And it is not confined by four walls. 

Walls can protect. They can also be bad.

What if I had spent my adult life pulling up the drawbridges, building the fences higher, encasing myself and my family in a tiny private world? What if then the children left, as they all have to do? What if then my husband left, either voluntarily or involuntarily? I would be like Rapunzel, but with greyer hair, stuck in my tower, all alone. 

How do you learn to open up, to invite people in, when you are older with a lifetime of keeping them at bay as your only experience? We cannot control when we interact. Life does not have an "off" or "silent" switch. 

I cannot emphasise more emphatically that you reap what you sow. A welcome begets a welcome. Friendship is not supposed to be restricted to times when it fits into your busy schedule. Or to when it suits you. Neither is family. 

Life is messy. It overflows from one place to another, and all those little barriers get swept aside. 

I am high up on my soapbox, people. I want to be striding up and down in front of ALL of you right now, telling, warning, encouraging you all to please listen and believe me when I say open up those doors. Open up those lives. Encourage people to pour through your doors. The kettle can always be filled. What are you demonstrating to your children?  Welcome?

Because I need to drop the soaring blood pressure at this exact moment because I am in a right royal tizz here in Middle England, I want to tell you briefly about a friend of mine back when we were roughly your ages. 30s. Only she was younger. Late 20s perhaps. 

It was approaching winter, and a busy time both at home, at schools, at work, wherever. I was a SAHM, and into the December baking frenzy. I always give baked things as gifts. And my young friend arrived on the doorstep after dropping her son at school, toddler in tow. In tears. I ushered her in, held her as she wept while the toddler headed for the toys he knew were there, and settled happily. In the course of that morning, I learned that it was the anniversary of the death of another child she had given birth to years before and lost to SIDS. That she just wanted to die too, her pain was so immense, and that she was frightened of being alone. She didn't need to talk or have me hovering. So she curled up in an armchair in the corner and I carried on baking. I made tea and coffee as I baked, I chatted from the kitchen now and then. I called her husband to let him know what was happening, and I arranged for another friend to collect all our boys from school. She stayed there and I kept watch all day. 

By evening time, she was calm and back in control. All she had needed was somewhere she was welcome. Where she knew she could go and that she could stay as long as necessary. 

I am honoured to this day, that she chose me. 

(She was and is fine, by the way - and her sons are now grown - 2 lovely young men.)

Anyone popping in to visit me is ALWAYS welcome. And I will always pop in too - people around here have learned to welcome me!

Please do just one thing - think about it. How does welcoming a stranger to your table fit in with the "dreaded pop-in" idea? 




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday morning shed watch......

I was up and dressed at an early hour this morning, just in case the shed arrived at dawn. I was AMAZED when we found out that they could deliver today, and even more delighted to find out that delivery was free. I can't understand why we thought cramming it into the car was an option at all. AND don't forget the over 60 thing as well.

Wednesdays are great when you get older. More mature.

So we have acquired the shed. And it will soon be here. Today.

While we were processing the order, we saw a box full of red things which turned out to be flood defences. Great worms you fill with water which then act as a flood barrier. We felt the need to acquire one of those too. Not for me. For my sister, who has known the devastation of house flooding personally. I think she made need more than one packet should the unthinkable happen and the reinforced flood prevention measures ever fail again.

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I suspect there will be many people happy to buy anything which may slow down the water here after last winter. Here being the UK. Last winter was the year of water. Flooding. Disaster for so many. Rivers hadn't been dredged, homes had been built on flood plains, the water had nowhere to go at all. The Thames in flood was awful. But I live at the top of a hill and flooding is unlikely here.

Short time lapse to welcome the arrival of the new radiator. Third time lucky. I must send a text to the plumber. This one will work properly. She says through gritted teeth thinking of the new carpets and water and towels and hysteria.

I will go and have my hair done.

Calm.

I will leave you with images of my new best friend. 

A cat. 

I do not know where it lives, or who its human is, but I am very happy to have it visit.

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And sit like a sphinx on top of the fence, eyeing the woodpile on the other side, and my garden on this side, for rodents. Rodents and I are not fond of each other, as you will remember. So having a watchman up there is very exciting indeed. In fact, I am sure my new shed roof will make a much more comfortable perch than that post....... 

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sheds and such like.......

Good morning, all you lovely people......

So I have been spending most of my time here at home. Friends have popped in regularly, and it has been great to catch up individually, and also just enjoy the company. I thought I would do more crocheting, but that has slowed a bit, although the wool supply has been replenished. Not that there was any dire lack of it, you understand. That was the downside of relatively forced inactivity. The ease of online shopping. Such a blessing in so many respects. And a curse in others.

Getting the house prepared for crutches and a knee scooter has occupied more time. That brings mrs to today's adventure.

I am off to order or buy, if it fits in the car, a shed.

A plastic one. I have read through gazillions of reviews of tiny sheds, and, given that I cannot expand this house any more, or find more accessible storage space, or magically acquire a garage, I am buying a shed. A plastic one, as I said. Re-inforced with steel, I hasten to add.

The reviews are good, and everyone has managed to self construct without disaster. I saw one already built at a local store, and the manager of the department offered it to me as it was, for a great price. However, the crane I would require to lift it over the entire house, would cost more that 50 sheds, so I had to very reluctantly decline.

No. We will put it together. Well, let's be real here - David and Diana will construct it. David is the brawn and Diana the construction whizz. She has put so many Ikea pieces together, nothing phases her any more. I am quite sure David is just as able, but in this case, holding it together while she fixes screws is more important.

Where it will go is up for discussion at the moment. Right now, it could go anywhere, and then we could move it in the summer next year, to a permanent home. However, I suspect I may have the wrong idea re the word "plastic". It is not going to be that easy to lift and reposition. So I may need to think about that.

We will make a plan.

The story of my life.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eyes.......

Since I last appeared here on screen, I have led an eventful life. 

Last Tuesday, I was in bed, minding my own business at 7 am, about to listen to the news. It was warm and cosy and snuggly, and I had a day of stuff planned. Like aquazumba. And then I heard the news announcer say "Here is the news for Tuesday 7th October..."

7th October?

Tuesday?

No..... Wednesday is supposed to be the 7th October.

So I grabbed the phone. The newsreader was right. 

Well.

Cue Linds bolting out of bed as fast as possible, bed clothes flying, screeching, "Diana wake up! Wake Up! We are late!"

Panicked slithering down the stairs while throwing on clothes. I tried to call the hospital, but no-one answered the phone, so we leapt into the car and roared off.

We arrived at 7.30, and presented ourselves at the reception desk for the day surgery ward, and the consultant in the corner said - "But you are only due in by 12 noon." 

Oh, give me strength. 

I had spent the previous month dithering about whether or not to have the cataract op I was scheduled to have. So many other factors to consider, including the orthopaedic op Diana is about to have, other medical appointments, the increased level of CRPS due to the dithering and stress, more medical matters to consider and appointments stacking up as well, not being able to drive, graduation, Mum, Sister, house, the lot. 

And it was getting worse by the day. The dithering. 

I wanted it all to go away. To cancel it. Actually, it would have been great if some medical power had just said "We will do it in a year's time." Or something. 

They didn't. 

So we came home, and Diana suggested I have my hair done because afterwards would be rather tricky, avoiding the bending forward or water in the eye scenario. So I spent the morning happily having the hair coiffed. 

By midday, I was back in the eye unit with all the other octogenarians. Seriously. Everyone was old and doddery. Oh, wait.......

After the eye dilating drops, I hauled out the latest ripple blanket for my footstool for Autumn (next year), and rippled away for 3 and a half hours. I was starving. So was Diana, who was in another hospital building, having her pre-op assessment at the same time. We should have had lunch. 

I was last in, and JUST on the point of getting up, announcing that I had changed my mind, and departing when they came to call me. Actually, the rather large male nurse and ditto anaesthetist came to collect me. I suspect running away was futile at that point, so I was as good as gold, and ended up on the slab operating table for the eye paralysis thingy. Not pleasant, but survivable. 

The not survivable thing was the fact that the nurses, surgeon, whoever, did not place and seal the blue jay cloth sheet over my face correctly. There was no seal. So, when they started the procedure, for which there is constant pouring of liquid of some sort, for a full 20-30minutes, it poured down my face, into my ear and into a puddle closely resembling a swamp under my head. 

You hold the hand of a nurse for the duration of the op, and if you need to cough or speak or move, you squeeze the hand. So I squeezed. "She squeezed" said the nurse. They stopped. I asked if it was normal to have liquid bubbling out of my ear and to be lying in a puddle. Oops, they said, and carried on. Exactly the same way as before. 

I got more furious by the second. And yes, I do know, and I said as much to the staff afterwards - that it was totally irrational to be so enraged about the fact that my hair and top were drenched with unknown fluid, and that the nurse had to wring the water out of my hair when I sat up. And I was absolutely thankful that I had a new lens and would be able to see better. I can say that the nurse and anaesthetist afterwards were lovely. They said it shouldn't have happened, that it doesn't happen as a rule. And that a rolled up towel would have solved the problem. 

So, by the time Diana came to collect me, I had calmed down about 1 degree (is there a degree symbol for this keyboard?) and I had a cup of coffee and a couple of biscuits to eat (tiny cookies), so we left with a list of instructions. She, the gem, had a sandwich waiting in the car for me. Bliss. 

Anyway, the fury subsided once hunger was abated, and a redo of the hair on the following morning solved the scarecrow look. 

Sleeping with a plastic eye patch is different. The pirate look is not really foe me. Only for 10 days, though. 

So. This past week, I have tried, and failed to follow the rules. No heavy lifting. No garden. No allotment. No dirty environment. No rubbing of eyes. 

Seriously, I try. Take last Thursday for example. The wind was blowing and I heard some crashing about. The water butt in the front drive had blown over and was heading for the road, so I went and retrieved it. And its lid. Then I went to get a couple of buckets of water to pour into it and anchor it down. Heavy. While I was waiting in the garden for the bucket to fill, I noticed some ripe tomatoes, which I went to pick. And then I realised that I had broken all the rules, so rushed back inside, and scrubbed ten layers off the hands to kill germs. 

And sat down in the chair and twiddled my thumbs. Got tired, so rubbed my eyes. 

I am beyond hope, people. Nothing was intentional. All instinct. I need to wear that patch 24 hours. And to have my hands tied behind my back. Or immobilised somehow. My eye is coping so far. Thank the Good Lord. 

So we have drops to drop in. Well, when you do your own, you miss 2 then get one to hit the target. I will be going through a couple of bottles at this rate. 4 a day for a week, then 3, then 2 then 1. Hah. It will be a miracle if the bottle lasts much longer.

Diana has been my chauffeur when needed, and I will be driving again soon. It is amazing how much clearer the world is once the cataract is gone. However, my left eye is struggling to build new neural pathways, and is trying to compensate for the "lost" eye, and this is taking a little time.  Balance is also begin re-calibrated. That will be a CRPS issue. We will get there. New glasses in 5 weeks now. 

Anyway. Right now, Diana should be having the op on her leg, but it was postponed late yesterday afternoon, and we have no idea when it will be rescheduled. The not knowing is a really rough thing for her. She was all geared up for today. This family could do without hospitals featuring front and centre for a while. 

That misbehaving radiator? It will have to be replaced. Again.