Monday, March 10, 2014

Out in the garden..........

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Yesterday was the most glorious sunny day this year. So far. It was all I love about Spring - sun, warmth, daffodils, buds on everything, starting to prepare the garden. Seeds, bulbs. Love, love, LOVE it. 

It was my turn to take everyone to church, which only starts at 11am, so I popped out early, after loading the washing machine, because sun also means washing outdoors, to get petrol. (I got there in the end, so stop sighing over my convoluted sentences!) After I left the petrol station, I came to a circle in the road - one way meant home, and the other went towards our favourite country park. 

The country park won. It was filling rapidly with cars, even though it was very early - people walking dogs, hiring bikes, families out for a stroll and playing at the amazing playground. Just perfect. So I walked slowly around the lake. I had no phone or camera with me, and that made it even better, because I could just immerse myself in the peace of the place. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

So, I still had time to get home, hang out the washing and attempt, for the third time, to reheat and drink my coffee. Sadly, that did not happen because church called. 
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We don't bother much about Sunday lunch around here - we tend to eat an early evening meal which is a mixture of lunch and supper, so once I got home, I decided that the call of the garden was too loud to ignore. For the first time this year, I was out there, tidying up the winter stuff, and yanking out some weeds, dismantling the wrecked plastic tomato greenhouse. This is a great time, because you can see the weeds. By summer, I give up, because they are entwined with pretty flowers. I transplanted two big lavender plants out of pots and into the bed, and in went some dahlia bulbs as well for good measure. I want to focus on doing less this year. Growing stuff which grows and sorts itself. 

Less is more.

Stop rolling around with laughter, people. 
I know I say something like this every year and then go and compulsively plant a zillion seeds.
What can I say.

I went down to the allotment earlier this morning to pay for the manure which will be delivered this week. A lorryload. That will be fun. Then this weekend, I get to watch the men distributing it all over the place. My beds need refilling. Remind me not to plant more than one or maybe two courgettes this year. I still have half a freezer full of the stuff. More beans though. I need many beans. And butternuts. And gem squash. 

Enough of gardens.

I will just add that, after an hour outside yesterday, I was doing an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the Hunchback Of Notre Dame. David did the last of the sweeping and tidying. And far away, Missy discovered the delights of swingball, according to her Mum's photos. 

I remember swingball. Such fun!

Now, to end today's missive, I have added a photo which I saw on Facebook - taken by the friend of a friend, Bronwyn Hendricks.(I think!) 

You need to know that South Africa is in the middle of Load Shedding Season. That means that there is not enough electricity generated to meet the needs of the country, so they have a schedule of when it is switched off in which areas on which days. To just about everyone. 
Well, there seems to be enough to supply Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc, but not enough for domestic consumption. Yes. This is beyond the comprehension of most people. However, there have been some hysterically funny photos on Facebook. The South African sense of humour is prevailing. For example, there is a sketch of a CD, entitled "Esk*om Unplugged" with a list of songs like Candle in the Wind, Dancing in the Dark etc. Esk*om being the electricity giant supplying electricity to the nation. 

And then there is this........

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This is the main morning daily newspaper in the Cape, Brilliant. Just brilliant. 

Load Shedding. Hmmm. It may yet come this way, I suppose. 

And now I am off to Oxford with my daughter on an adventure..........

Monday, March 03, 2014

It feels like Spring today..........

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The sun is shining, and the house is dressed in the Spring colours of green and yellow, and I do believe I even have a (slight) urge to go and investigate the garden for more signs of life. The fact that, at that back of my mind the words "Prague Spring" (because it is Spring and because of the protagonist, not the location) (I know what I mean) raise some very unsettling thoughts, mixed with the 100th anniversary of WW1, Crimea, and all the rest, remembering that all it took was one gunshot back then, do not bear thinking about at all.

That has to be one of the longest most rambling sentences to erupt from my keyboard. You get the gist of things in my mind, though. I hope.

Anyway. Back to Spring and sunshine. I am rather hoping that my friend who prunes fruit trees may arrive on the doorstep today, because it is pruning time and it is not wet. My ladder is lying under the tree, in wait. Last year, I didn't get it done, and I can tell you I will not be climbing up there armed with the secateurs either. We had a day of rain yesterday. Last night it was torrential.

I think I told you about my Library Girls? The ones I teach attempt to teach to use/play with the iPad? That sentence sounds wonky as well, but to be frank, I do not have the patience to ponder grammar. The ladies. Senior ladies. Aka older than me. Well, it started with one needing a little help and has grown to 4 now. We have multiplied. The slight hiccup is that one of them has an android tablet about which I know less than zero. As in, how do you turn it on? Huh? And how do you download apps, because it is not very clear at all. This makes for a hilarious hour or two of Linds trying to juggle all the balls. Work out how to make the tablet go, and keep the iPad ladies from expiring from boredom. Cue the introduction of Pinterest. Oh, how they love that. Then I conquered the apps, and downloaded Sudoku for the tablet, so, when all else fails, Sudoku and Pinterest rule.

Actually, no-one minds. Everyone has a good laugh, and, hopefully, now and then they learn how to do something. One of them helpfully brought along her copy of " iPad for Seniors". Maybe I need a copy of my own as well. The library has a very annoying wifi set up as well. You have to re-select the wifi connection every 10 minutes. Every couple, if your device is just lying on the table. This is not helpful, if you are trying to teach the mysteries of skype and have the ladies positioned in the 4 corners of the library (which is small) and you are outside ringing them on Skype.  They tend to shout if they can't get a signal.

Just think, all this going on, at the same time as Rhyme Time for the Mums and Tots, who like to sing as well. Loudly. ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT!

Ye gods. It is a miracle we are still allowed to gather there. Actually, the librarian organised the "class". I use the term loosely. She also provides tea and cakes.

We have a great librarian.

And as an added extra, the Library Girls have asked me to teach them how to crochet as well. We may need gin instead of tea. I can just see it all...........................

Well, it does make for good entertainment, doesn't it. And I so enjoy it all, crazy though it may be. This week is all about reading apps and free books. I sincerely hope that tablet thingy behaves. I may just download the Kindle app for everyone, then I can teach one way to get books, not two. We can cover the iPad book thingy when the android is absent.

I am quite exhausted at the thought.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Third time lucky..........

I was scrolling through my drafts and found a post which I never published in December, and while most of it was time-appropriate, some wasn't, but the photos were good, so here we go then........

Back in December, as I was writing about the death of Madiba, I glanced at the pot of rulers here on my desk. And  there, amongst the old ancient ones and the new pristine ones, I saw this one. 

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I love it. LOVE it. It was given to the children at school when the new President Mandela was inaugurated. Only, I think, in South Africa, would this be celebrated for what it is. Pure genius. There was a new anthem to learn, and, get this, what you see here is only HALF of it. The rest continues on the back of the ruler. "Our new ruler." Pure genius, as I said a moment ago. 

I have taken to repetition. It must be age related. 

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On one fine Sunday afternoon, back in early winter, my two resident offspring and I ventured out on an adventure to the treetop walk in a forest nearby.

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 Thankfully, it was all ramped, and no stairs were involved, but we took as many rests as I required. It was on The List, you see, and the end of the year was approaching, and I needed to have some things crossed off that List. Maybe going on a Sunday afternoon was unwise. A quiet weekday, perhaps. But the list now has a couple more ticks against it. Being determined pays off in those little ticks.

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Isn't this a beautiful photo? David striding on ahead of us. 

During my long silence - and I wish I had a mysterious excuse, full of exciting details, but I don't - I did make a little blanket. It is very sweet and destined for a little girl, but for heaven's sake remind me that I hate joining squares with the ridge. Never again. It is a one sided blanket, because any poor child lying on top of it will end up with squares on its back, and will wail, because it will be uncomfortable. This is for covering the child. 
Sigh. 
Details. 

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I also made an infinity scarf for myself, out of very thin grey merino yarn, which was a triumph for all of a day until I realised that I had made a catastrophic mistake at least 36 rows back. That was when I discovered that very fine merino, which is like thread, does not unravel. Even with uncharacteristic patience. So in the end, I used the scissors and hacked about 30 rows of it out. It was a disaster. However, the one ball I was committed to using because I was a) not going back to the town half an hour away for a ball of wool, and b) the wool was not cheap - had to do. It worked brilliantly and it is so very warm.

The picture is terrible, but to get it here it has been sent from the phone to Facebook, to Flickr to here and it was not a happy transfer.

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24 February 2014

Hello again. This post is doomed never to see the light of day. Unless I publish it right this very minute. I wrote the updated version on the 8th Feb. And here we are weeks later. 

Right. 
Publish. 

I need to speed up.....

Life seems to be flying past me at speed. I need to get moving fast, or invest in roller skates or something flashy. Seriously, people, this has to change. 

In the past week, Missy has turned 5. I cannot believe the child is 5, at big school and just so tall and skinny, and gorgeous. She and her aunt had a great time painting when we were there for a visit. Diana has been in Copenhagen for a week  and she spent a few days catching up with her niece (and her brother and sister-in-law). I gather Frozen is the hot favourite at the moment. So is painting. And craft. And bikes. And dancing.
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Five. I am sitting here shaking my head in total disbelief. My granddaughter will be a teenager before I know what I am doing. 

I do know I will be 60 this year, and that is enough to make the hair stand on end. Not the age. but the number, if you see what I mean. How can I have seen 60 new years? 

Oy. 

The rain stopped finally, and David and I went to a nearby park recently, to inspect the flooded path ways.
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The lakes seemed larger than usual. 

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Seriously, we are so lucky around here, because there are hills, and valleys, and the water doesn't flood many homes. 

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And the sun shining was better than any medical tonic. Blue skies for a while and real sun. The swans seemed to love it too. 
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This is normally a path. Some brave cyclists went through it and informed us that it got really deep further on. The path was closed anyway, so we had no intention of wading through lakes. 
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Quite law-abiding, you see. 

On the home front, the crocheting of the mood blanket continues, and oh, how I loved the Winter Olympics. I am particularly partial to the bobsleigh. My heart nearly stopped when Canada 1 crashed. I cannot believe those men did not get hurt. And then the commentator casually announces that they will have crashed hundreds of times before. Hello? Are they insane? Someone was saying that they would love to see the ride from a camera mounted on the sled. I think they have simulators for that. But such fun to watch. And that mad race on snowboards with 4 at a time. Love it. 

From the rocking chair, of course. 

I used to absolutely love skating. Ice dance and all that. But honestly, the scoring system totally escapes me now. I want the old way - you know, where it was all out of 6 and you saw each judge's marks under their flag of origin. I like to see if there is biased marking for myself.  I understood that. Now we get 158.2 and it is supposed to mean something? Really? 

You will be relieved to know we now have a 4 year wait before I can justifiably argue about the scoring at ice skating competitions. 

Happy Monday to you all!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Saving the memories and needing to see things clearly............

There was a moment of total panic around here this morning when I thought Ye Olde Computer had quietly breathed its last. However, it has limped into life, and I have spent the rest of the morning saving everything onto the overflowing external hard drive. I need a new one. This one is full. 

Or rather, I need to spend endless hours going through and deleting all The Stuff I have saved 55 times. Just in case. Please tell me I am not alone. 

What am I keeping all The Stuff for? Well, apart from the photos, of course, and even then, I am beginning to think that I should go through them all and delete what I don't want. How many photos of a rose can one really need, I ask you. 

Or rather, how many would anyone want to look at in the next 25 lifetimes? 

Enough of wonky computers and hard drives stuffed full of things. Let's just call them memories. Sounds better. 

So, I was thinking, as I sat in the chair with no bottom (another story) this morning (there is now a toy box under it)(just in case you had weird visions in your minds). I was thinking, as I said, that I have become a lazy blogger. I can pinpoint the exact moment that happened without resorting to my past posts to check the date. My entire family clubbed together last year and bought me an iPad mini. I love my iPad mini. I love it very much. However, I cannot write blog posts on it. I can do emails, now that I have discovered the joys of a stylus - who knew they could make such a difference. Actually, my friend in NZ sent me one. Very possibly, she was tired of trying to decipher my emails. So I am a convert to the stylus, people. I can send emails.

It is also very simple to do everything else on a tablet. Surf around, pop in to dreamy yarn and craft shops, read articles, papers, blogs, do your food shopping, make appointments and find recipes. Music, games, sudoku, books, Twitter, Facebook, Skype. All there. 

But I cannot write on it. 

Even with a keyboard, I think I would still find reason not to write on it. 

So, because I can sit in the chair-with-no-bottom and check emails, watch TV, crochet a square and generally survive, I don't get up and walk to the study, settle into the chair-that-sinks-as-I-type, and hammer away on the keys. 

Hello, my name is Linds. I am lazy. 

I can't be the only one, can I? Tablets. Facebook. The explosion of the Internet. It keeps changing our lives. Not always for the better, as in the laziness. See above. I need to make another plan. Maybe I should have invested more time making resolutions this year. Or rather, setting goals. 

Goals are good. 

Yesterday, I made another appointment to have my new glasses checked. I got new ones last December, but they had to be changed because, hello, I couldn't see out of them. So, we discovered that the varifocal strip was in the wrong place, so I was squinting to see anything. Not a good look. So they changed the prescription and the positioning of the varifocal whatsit. I went in, all excited, to get the new version, took one look at the computer screen in the shop and announced that I could not see the screen at all. 

They suggested I try them for a while and see if they sort of worked, and I became a little annoyed, but off I went, muttering. Then came the op and the immobility, and many moans which drove my kids crazy, and the final straw was when I picked up a Topblerone Chocolate in a shop and wondered aloud to Jean, why is was bent. It wasn't. And my mind is not decaying. The world is round people. All the time. We see life with a sort of rainbow arch which is not pretty colours, so VERY CLEARLY there is something wrong with the glasses. Come Monday, and we will be off to find out exactly what that may be. Hopefully. Finally. At last. 

Anyway, the rain has stopped here for now, the sun is out and I need to rotate the washing. 

Happy Friday to you all!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Mood blankets and sunshine days..........

Wow, people - you are still there! I am amazed, and it is a miracle. Thank you all for sticking around.

The sun shines here once again - this has been a strange winter here in the UK. There has been no snow where I live, and a great deal of rain, but down south the rain has been of biblical proportions, and the storm surges have been devastating too. Areas of Somerset have been under water since the start of the year. I am ever so thankful that I live on a hill, and that the water flows down hills. Instead, I can report that the snowdrops are all emerging from the soil. Spring is just a month or two away.

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The computer and I got re-acquainted yesterday. It has been a LOOOONG time since I sat down at it, and I had to migrate my Flickr account, and create new email addresses and it was all head sort of stuff. Concentrate, Linds. My broadband supplier gave me Flickr Pro free back when you had to pay for uploading more than a few photos, and it is now leaving Yahoo, so I had to rescue my account or lose the photos. It took a while to dare to press the button. However, it was dead easy in the end. I just complicate things for myself sometimes.

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I have also decided that this is the year I am going to move all my digital things away from said broadband provider, so I cannot be held hostage every year as it raises its prices, and complicates my life by necessitating calls to places east of here. A long way east. It will take a year, believe me. (Although I do acknowledge that it would take my daughter or sons about 10 minutes. But I am different.) 

While I was attempting to see how many email addresses I could have from one server with the same password and other exciting stuff, like how does snapchat work and I really need to get to grips with Instagram, Diana was making the most DELICIOUS pie for supper. She called it "Left over Pie" - everything left in the fridge from the weekend went into it and it was sensational. There was not a crumb left. I know this, because I made sure I ate every last crumb.  I also made her hold it as it came out of the oven while I tried to find the camera and take the photo. It was very hot. But I loved the smiley face. 

About Instagram. I have had an account since it arrived on the scene, but have never done much with it. Like take a photo. I must improve. Once I work out how to do it all properly. I want to see the Crochet Mood Blanket stuff. 

Talking about the mood blankets......
Well, you see, a lady named Stacey suggested a group on Instagram who could crochet a Mood Blanket this year. One stripe or square or hexagon per day or week, depicting the mood of the person making it. And by the end of the year, we could have huge beautiful blankets. And she expected a few to join in. 

It exploded. 

And on Facebook, there is now a group of nearly 4,000 people as well. The community which has grown from it is delightful. Ladies are arranging real life meetings, and the response to new people joining, to questions, to suggestions, has been fantastic. Links abound, and those just learning are getting so much encouragement. It is such fun. Someone mentioned that she was a day or so behind because she had some little blankets to make for the local NICU babies, and I thought that was a fabulous idea. I want to try and make a few this year. They are so very tiny and quick to make. Maybe a lot more babies around the globe will be getting little blankets too. 

I have just been thinking about the mood blanket idea. It is also, perhaps, a monitor of our lives. Too many grey or dark days could be a reminder that we have the power to change what happens in our daily lives. Little bits at a time. You see, I have no desire to see gloom spread across my lap as I make my squares. I get to choose what colour defines my days. And, as we all know, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Being thankful makes me smile. If I smile, the mood lightens. 

My blanket is going to be bright. 

Because I am not supposed to do a lot of tight gripping, I have acquired a soft handled crochet hook, and it is a delight. It sort of swivels in my hand and I can hold it lightly. The hand therapist lady does raise her eyebrows and talk of slowing down and pacing and all that familiar stuff. I do try to listen. And while I am sitting here, I am doing her exercises. 

There was a small pause as I did another one. Elbows on desk, arms straight up and hands straight together in prayer position. Slide arms out, keeping hands together till on wrists are almost flat, and hold it there.Tick that box.

I am also back in the water at last. I had to wait until the wrist was healed before I got back in again. I really missed it, and am delighted to be back. I creak a great deal more, of course. It just goes to prove exactly why constant exercise is so important, especially for me. Without it, I know exactly where I would be, and that is never going to be an option. Never.  Having a determined streak (aka stubborn, and all the more derogatory terms) is a real blessing at times. So are naps. 

And I need to go and get some more rodent stuff....................

Monday, February 03, 2014

Creak, groan, and the door eases open.................

Hello there, world. 

I could come up with a million reasons why I have been away from this little corner, but that is for another post. Or 500. We will see. Right now it is a sunny, cold winter morning in Middle England, and the hand therapy is over for the day and the car is about to go for its annual health check - the MOT, and so I have to stay in and therefore I have to actually reopen this blog. If I want to keep it alive.

And guess what?

I do.
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Oh, about the car? It is old. Multiple prayers would be very welcome right now.

So, a month into the new year and life has settled down after the Christmas break. We have a rodent in residence somewhere in this house, and it needs to depart. So far, it has managed to trick the Kill and Seal traps, and simply eat the peanut butter bait. This is a disaster of the highest order. I do not do rodents, if you remember my past rants about small furry creatures with long tails. Especially not when they could be under my chair.

I am thinking of inviting friends to bring their cats to visit. Or mouser kind of dogs. Anything.

{{Shudder}}

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My wrist is slowly returning to normal. I am just so very thankful that the large lump they removed was not nasty, but a GTTS (giant tumour of the tendon sheath). A giant cell tumour. Sounds revolting. But the word "benign" is one of the most beautiful in the English language. I have great praise for the speed with which I was whisked through the diagnostic process by the NHS. One doesn't necessarily think of speed in relation to the NHS, but when there is concern, oh yes. Speed. Speed is also terrifying for the same reason as above. Because it is unexpected, it is a trigger for worry. Fear. 

But that time is over, and remember, benign is a beautiful word.

The resultant large lump in my wrist - the scar tissue will shrink, I hope, is exactly where my wrist rests on the desk. Reason #387653 why posts have been sporadic  totally absent.

I have discovered it is 4 days early for the MOT of the car. This is a problem. Sigh. I thought I was being so completely ahead of myself. Oh well. The man is going to see what can be sorted. I have messed up his whole working week.

So where was I.....

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It was wonderful to have all my children home between Christmas and New Year. Missy is really into crafts of all kinds, so her Auntie Diana, with her wonderful collection of tapes, spent a great deal of time on the floor creating in the new craft corner under the Christmas tree. Missy adores tape. Sticky tape, washi tape, the brighter the better.

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She is loving school, and is growing up so fast. Soon the 5th birthday will roll around - how can she already be 5? 

During my long silence here, I have been thinking. In fact, there is nothing like a wait for medical news to focus the brain. Not on worry. Ironically, there was no worry, just sitting. Being. Thinking. One of the things I have taken out, examined in my mind, rolled over, and found totally lacking, is the old saying - "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you." 

Rubbish.

Absolute junk.

Unmitigated *!$%!*

Words can tear into your heart. They can become festering wounds. They can leave scars no-one can eradicate. They can destroy. And the worst thing is that they have echoes, which resound through the hours. The days. The years. Decades. Life.

One of the most destructive of things on earth. The words people say. To you. About you. Around you. 

I have a great deal to say about all that thinking time, you see. The power of the word is a good starting point. They can simply pour out of mouths without filter, and the hurt they can cause is untold. 

The advent and rise of social media lends voice to words which should never be uttered. You see, it is so simple to hide behind a sort of anonymity and feel free to say anything, without thought, without any reading or research, just to type in the words and click send. 

Twitter is the worst place for that. Then there are the news stories, which seem to bring out every revolting specimen of humanity in the comment sections. The blog posts which awake the trolls. And the Facebook pages where personal things are shared which should never be put into words on any sort of screen, apart from the old kind. You know. The screen which is put around a bed to give privacy. Think old style 50s hospitals. Bring back the screen, I say. In fact, just think seriously about the alternative meanings for "screen". 

a) Something on a monitor which displays stuff..
b) Something to provide privacy.
c) a filter.

I saw a really good thing on Facebook yesterday - It said something along the lines of "Do not assume that my status updates reflect my real life. They are for the purpose of providing amusement only." And I thought - yes. I see that. In so many places. 

Tell a child, a teen, a young person that words don't hurt, and they could tell you stories which would appal you. Just look at the suicide rates for young people. But that sort of hurt is not exclusive to the young. As we get older, our skin does toughen a little, but nowhere near enough to protect any of us from little barbs. There is always a way through for those sharp little tools of the devil. 

Words have the power to destroy things. Families. Friendships. Lives. People with power use words to incite, to denigrate, to give hope. And to destroy hope. 

There is so much I want to talk about. I will be playing with the words, my friends. I am sorry for the absence. It has been a while and everything is creaking, but thank you for your emails and messages. I have missed your words. I have missed all of you too. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Hello to all of you, and a very Merry Christmas, as well! I can't believe Christmas Eve is here. Time for carols in the village square.  I am typing left handed, one letter at a time because I had an op yesterday. A large unidentifiable lump needed excision. On my right wrist.  Yes.  Two days before Christmas.  Convenient timing!  However, it had to be done and so it was.  Diana will be cooking Christmas dinner this year. Hoorah!  I will be relaxing, trying to remember to keep the arm raised. I had an extra nerve block, because we cannot risk the CRPS jumping, and there are extra meds to take for the next week as well. Life is just peachy.  

Actually, what I mean to say is that life has some unexpected twists and turns, and all we can do is shake our heads and grin, and start thinking about all the many blessings which grace our lives.  My life. So very many. Even when the year has not been stellar. 

This first photo is one I took before the op.  Drawn by the surgeon.  Don't you just love the arrow? And the classy ankle tag and hospital gown?  

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I went to have my hair washed and dried this morning and the church in the centre of the village looked so beautiful with the sun and blue skies. It doesn't feel like real winter yet, even though 100 000 homes are without power after the awful storm last night. Not  good.

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You can see in the next photo - me looking more human after having the hair done.  Thank heavens I could get a cancellation, because one handedness is not easy. I need two hands! Underwear, getting dressed, wrapping, writing with the left hand, makeup, boots, all a challenge. Just as well I don't mind challenges! I get to remove most of the dressing on Boxing Day.

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And this is the snowman in my front bay window.  He is one which grows - I pull him up a little each day, so passers by see him growing.  I love him!
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I must sort out the photos properly. I will have conquered them by tomorrow. Or the next day. 

You know, I have so much to tell you all - so much has been going on, the small stuff is always the best - and I will be back properly.   Sometimes bigger stuff gets in the way, and needs sorting though.  

So, to you all, a very Happy Christmas. I hope the day is full of laughter, joy, peace and love, and that the true celebration of the birth of our Saviour  is the centre of every home. 

Joy to the world!

Friday, December 06, 2013

The silence is broken. Madiba died.

Sometimes things happen. Things which spur one into action. And today, I am back, prodding the old blog back to life, because it is time. And because last night, an old man, a truly wonderful old man of 95, way down at the bottom of Africa, finally breathed his last breath. One man, whose influence on millions, or more probably, a billion or two lives was so utterly profound. 

A man about whom we were never allowed to know anything as we grew up. I was a child of 10 by the time the Rivonia trials ended, and I was 36 when the doors of the jail opened, and Mr Nelson Mandela walked free at last. In between, I grew to adulthood, became a student of history, and discovered that there were 20 years of history which I was not allowed to see. To know about. To read. 20 YEARS? HOW? WHY? 

It may seem hard to believe now, but I was 21 when I saw the very first picture of Madiba. 21. He was faceless, because his photo was banned. Along with a whole load of other stuff, which once included the book, Black Beauty, but that is a story for another time. 

So, there I was, in London, in the British Library, hunting down all those blank pages in my history text books at university, and I flipped over a page, and there he was. The fact that I copied all those 48 pages and smuggled them back to SA is irrelevant. I read. I finally knew what filled the gaps. 

I grew up through the years of protest, when we students thought we could change the world - we tried hard. Through the years of early marriage and parenthood, still longing for the day justice would triumph, and that all people would be equal under the law. Making sure the schools we chose for our little ones were multi-racial, and that our friendships encompassed everyone we met. Our lives were enriched immeasurably by the multicultural mix in which we found ourselves immersed. Living life as we dreamed it could be, but in such a small bubble. The dream was for it to be everywhere, for everyone. 

That wait seemed so long to me, but how much longer must it have been for the man sitting out there on Robben Island? How much harder must it have been in the face of all the humiliation, abuse, and pain? How on earth did he have the strength to keep learning, keep teaching, keep that fascinating mind alive and growing? Where did he learn that compassion? 

I could, and did, go and just sit and look out at the island sometimes, and just wonder. I sailed past it. I visited it. And then my life went on, but for those in those cells out there, for him, life "going on" was very different. 

And how on earth did he keep the bitterness at bay, the hurt from festering into malignancy, the hope from dying? How could he be a father to his children, a husband to his wife? 

27 long years.  

And then, oh then, the gates swung open one beautiful day in early February, 1990, and everything started changing. I remember the day so well, because, as it happens, my parents were flying off to Switzerland for my sister's wedding, and I dropped them at the airport, and was caught up in the traffic heading into town from the townships. You have never seen anything like it. Well, actually, if you have been to South Africa and seen the taxis, you may know what I am talking about,. Designed to seat maybe 10, in fact seating 25, with even more on top and hanging on to the boot (the trunk) by their finger nails. Pick up trucks overflowing with people waving, singing, chanting, dancing...... 

1000 upon 1000 of them. And every single one with a smile wide enough to split open faces. 

And so I joined in and hooted and waved and smiled and could not quite believe what was happening. Everyone was heading for town, the city centre, the Parade, because Madiba was going to speak from the balcony of the City Hall. I do not recall anyone ever speaking from the balcony of the City Hall, now that I come to think of it. Not that I would have taken note of, anyway. 

Hope was born that morning in around 50 million hearts. 

And the breath of 4 million was held, as the words of reconciliation came, and the love shone out of the face everyone grew to adore. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Humour. Compassion. 

Do you remember his amazingly colourful shirts? The twinkle in the eye? The dancing on platforms? The voice of reason? 

I was living in the UK when the first election came round. 1994. And onto the train I leapt, and off to London I went. I thought it would take a couple of hours, but you have NO IDEA how long the queues were to vote. They snaked over the centre of London, because every single South African who could be there wanted to be a part of history, and heaven knows there were thousands of us.  And I remember how they inched forward, how we were entertained by some South Africans, who kept us doubled up with laughter. And singing. We all learned each other's life stories in those queues, and then I realised that I would have to go because, hello, small children need to be fetched from school. A long train ride away. So I gathered up my belongings, and stepped out of the queue. 

Well. 

I will never forget what happened next, and if you are South African you will get the picture perfectly....

A marshal, all of 5ft 2" tall, raced up to me. "And where do you think you are going, my child?"(He was all of maybe 50 years old and rotund and black. It is important that you know this.) "I have to go home - I have to catch a train, and the queue is too long, and my baby will be lost without me and I can't vote and ...." I wailed. 

"STEP THIS WAY!" he roared, "FOLLOW ME! EXCUSE ME EXCUSE ME WE NEED TO GET THROUGH URGENT OUT OF THE WAY!!" And on it went as we rounded two and a half sides of the enormous block of the Methodist Central Hall. People didn't mind. They cheered us as we ploughed through the crowds. And finally we got to the doors, and he released my hand, dusted himself off, and turned to the marshals there and said "My friend here has to get a train back to her baby and WE CANNOT LET HER GO WITHOUT VOTING, CAN WE". 

No. It appeared we could not. 

And so I was dragged ushered up the stairs to a voting table to register, I cast my vote with enormous pride and joy, and only then did my little friend (I am 5ft 6") let me go. He actually called me a taxi, roared instructions to the driver, and gave me a hug, with a beaming smile too. 

Africa. Its people. And I am one of them. 

And the man who became President, Nelson Mandela, would have been proud.

His destiny was, in the end, to be a Father Of the Nation, for all time. The Man of the Century.

His dream must be kept alive. Do you remember him presenting the Rugby World Cup to his Springbok team, dressed in a Springbok rugby jersey? His legacy has to be love, tolerance, and compassion. The spirit of "We can do" must prevail. He never sought to profit personally from his position. His focus was on ALL the citizens of one of the most beautiful countries of the world. ALL of them. Not the privileged few holding office and their cohorts. 

But his days were numbered, just as ours are, and he is now at peace. 

May peace flow over the land, may his ethos of life be remembered and practiced, may his dreams be fulfilled. 

Madiba, you were loved. 




Monday, October 07, 2013

Photos, blankets and idle chatter.....

I mentioned that it seems that I took the very first photo of Lucy on the opening Saturday of Yarndale. Well, the first one she was aware of anyway, and here it is, as promised, taken in the restaurant of the Auction Mart before doors opened - lovely lady!

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And so I came home, fired with enthusiasm, and finished off the very first Granny Stripe I have made, another of Lucy's tutorials, which you can find here.

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It has been said that it looks just like rickrack. It does rather, doesn't it?

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And then here is the daisy blanket I made over the last month or two. That was fun, except i don't like the joining bit at all, and would do it a different way next time, which may just be now, because I have nothing on the hook at the moment. 

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But it does look lovely, I have to say. 

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This morning, I returned to the pool after a break of nearly 4 weeks. I had to have a biopsy on something on my back, and because it was across my shoulder span, I had more stitches than usual, and they stayed in longer, and consequently, I was out of the pool much longer too. And so I was not over exuberant today. And now I creak. 

Anyway, when I had had it removed, the registrar said she was confident it was of the nasty variety, but not to worry as it was out now and there was treatment available. But that they would send me a letter if it was all clear and call me if it wasn't. 

Well. 

Every time that phone rang I had a near heart attack. And nothing came in the post. When I went to have the stitches out after two weeks, I discovered that it can take - wait for it - up to SIX WEEKS to get a Nasty Call or a nice letter. 

There was no way I would survive the 6 weeks, so I called the consultant and the secretary promised to search for the results. She called me 4 hours later to tell me all was well. The letter arrived a few days ago.  It was clear and I am just fine. 

Greyer. 

But it is fine. That sort of event makes you re-evaluate stuff. So I retreated into myself for a while and did some serious thinking. You will, no doubt be getting to hear about some of that serious thinking over the next few weeks. I have been storing things up in the head. I just had no will at all to reach for the computer keyboard. 

So. In an hour or so, I am off to the church to talk to some teenagers about the homeless centre we collect food for at our church. I am not sure what I will be saying but it is for 15 minutes so maybe getting them to do the talking may be the best thing. Excellent. I will ask 4 questions. They can spend the time answering them. Sorted. 

After church yesterday, David (he is home) and I went out into the jungle garden to start emptying pots and hacking back things for autumn. Well, he did the cleaning of the chairs and packing them away bit, and I did the hacking. I also managed to trip and fall without being seen. The neighbour was mowing his lawn, so David, who was just 10 ft away, never heard me screech. Fun. Just fun. 
Back to the garden - after he hauled me up again.....

It has been mild, but it is time to get the straggly things out. The tomatoes are almost finished which is excellent seeing that the freezer is very full as I speak. Maybe another 3 pots to cook. And heaven knows the apple mountain is not moving either. Bounty, people. Harvest. Blessings upon blessings. 

It has been a good year. My butternut squash and gems continue to grow and I have not been to the allotment for a week, so I am anticipating marrows. Groan. I will have to venture down there this evening. After I have talked to the teens. 

Right. I am off to get some strong coffee. I need to have my wits about me.