Tuesday, October 31, 2006

100 things

Well, I did a draft ages ago, and decided to post it today. It is now sitting under Oct 16th, so in the archives for October 2006. There are some things I do not know how to do. Like change the date. Sigh. Maybe it is better there, hidden away!

Morning Glory you are such a STAR!! Thanks so much for the lesson in date changing. She says smugly. Diana...I know how to change dates! Hah! I can do ANYTHING tra la .......... (with the help from some friends!)

100 things about me

  1. I was born in South Africa
  2. I have one younger sister
  3. We spent 3 months travelling around Europe when I was 12
  4. I fell in love with Switzerland
  5. I have been in a gondola
  6. And to an opera in Paris
  7. And Covent Garden to see the Royal Ballet
  8. And climbed the leaning tower of pisa (twice)
  9. I hate wearing shoes
  10. I nearly lost my big toe playing barefoot in the drive
  11. I had 2 ops to try and fix it
  12. They didn't work
  13. I still have my toe
  14. I hated gym at school
  15. I couldn't climb ropes
  16. I remember listening to the Voice of America announcement of Pres Kennedy's death
  17. My sister was a genius
  18. So I looked dumb
  19. But was not really
  20. My Mum has a Masters degree in English and was a SAHM
  21. My Dad also had his Masters and was a civil engineer
  22. I taught myself how to play the guitar
  23. I taped out a badminton court in the hall at school because I wanted to play
  24. Our church was the centre of our social life while I was growing up
  25. I wrote and produced a dance drama of the Crucifixion while at school
  26. We toured local churches with it
  27. I was 20 before I went up Table Mountain, and we lived on the slopes of it
  28. I have a BA in History from UCT
  29. I played in the university badminton team
  30. I was on the Rag Committee for 3 years
  31. I rode on the back of a motorbike at unspeakeble speeds wearing a long dress
  32. And no helmet
  33. My first car was a mini called Arabella
  34. I rolled it on a country road
  35. I loved diving for crayfish and I love the sea
  36. I met my husband while he was on officer in the Royal Fleet Aux, on the Beira patrol
  37. He was English
  38. We got engaged in England while I was on holiday
  39. Married in SA when I was 21
  40. I moved to England in 1976
  41. Back to SA when I was expecting my first son
  42. I missed my family
  43. We went for 4 years
  44. And stayed 14
  45. He stayed in the merchant navy and was away from home 9 months of each year
  46. He was in Norway when Andrew was born
  47. I drove myself to the hospital
  48. Spent a month in France with babe and husband while new ship being built
  49. We spent a year at sea with him when Andrew was 2
  50. Started playing squash
  51. Then Diana was born
  52. Bought my first house when I was 23
  53. Travelled back to England most years
  54. Started playing tennis
  55. Made amazing friends along the way
  56. I still have great friends I was at school with
  57. My house was always full of kids and people
  58. Especially for Guy Fawkes nights and brunches and holidays
  59. I love baking
  60. And reading
  61. Diana nearly drowned in the pool when she was 3. Andrew saved her
  62. I watched so many friends emigrate
  63. My generation has all scattered to the 4 corners of the earth
  64. My best friend lives in New Zealand
  65. Took my family on a real holiday to Europe (in a plane!)
  66. Surprise baby number 3 when the older ones were 12 and 8
  67. Moved back to England (see 44) when husband said "remember those 4 years? They are now 14". I packed
  68. Came to a village in middle England
  69. Made more great friends
  70. Husband still away at sea
  71. Parents came to visit, and my father had just been diagnosed with Diffuse Lewey body disease, and could not go home, as he was so bad
  72. I flew back and forth to SA to sort out their affairs
  73. He died 2 years later
  74. Mother still here
  75. My sister and her husband live in Switzerland
  76. I am still in love with the place
  77. Andrew married Ann there in 2003(oops, I said 1993. Am losing it!)
  78. Diana now lives in New Zealand, working for a church in Wellington
  79. Both my older 2 have graduated
  80. I worked in an oriental rug shop for a while
  81. I invigilated for our local college exams
  82. I have run a dolls house shop
  83. I quilt
  84. And scrapbook
  85. My friends gave me a scrollsaw for my 50th birthday
  86. I had an amazing party
  87. I have had 3 dogs, Misty, Bobby and Bailey
  88. Geoff came home from sea 3 years ago
  89. And died 3 months ago
  90. That was not supposed to happen
  91. I love gardening
  92. I have masses of roses
  93. Did I mention my wonderful friends?
  94. I have been in a hot air balloon
  95. I went to Paris with a friend for our 40th birthdays
  96. I love walking in the Alps
  97. I have so many dreams
  98. My faith sustains me
  99. So do my children
  100. I am very very blessed

Monday, October 30, 2006

Climate Change

Today Sir Nicholas Stern published his report into Climate change. His credentials are excellent, and now it is time for people to take note, learn more and do whatever they can to stop the damage before we pass the point of no return. The news is full of it, and no doubt the papers will be tomorrow too, with the announcement that there will be new green laws put before parliament soon. Whichever way you look at it, we will all have to pay more to try and halt the momentum of climate change, or there will be a catastrophe in our lifetimes. Not hundreds of years time. In OUR lifetime. I have seen how the glaciers are melting. Anyone can see how the weather is changing, and here in the First world, it is easy to dismiss the on-going disaster in the third world, but isn't it the ultimate irony that the continent emitting the least amount of greenhouse gas is the one most affected? Africa is a nightmare from top to bottom.

But it does have to be a global effort. It is absolutely useless to have major players opting out for whatever reason. Protecting jobs is not an option. Ok in the short term but not in the long term. Here it looks like we will pay an extra tax on whatever mileage we do in our cars, on air travel, on the greeenhouse gasses our home emit. And you know what? People seem to be accepting this as inevitable. They know what has to be done, and are prepared to play their part.

I have never understood the need to drive 4 wheel drive SUVs etc around town. Great when you live on a farm. But why in town? And here petrol already costs 83.9p a litre, so that is about $1.59 a litre. We already pay 90% of that in tax, and there will be more. It is not just all about how WE want to live and do what WE want to do. We have a corporate responsibility for the planet too. We have to drive smaller cars, and use them less. And I mean small....REALLY small. We need to use more public transport, and use alternative fuels. In Europe, the trend is to drive small fuel-efficient cars like the Smart car, the Ford KA, the Nissan Micra, the VW polo, etc. We need more hybrid cars.

We need wind turbines and solar panels on our homes, and better insulation and building materials. We need to harness the sun in the design of our homes, like maximising internal sunlight in winter and minimising it it summer by scientifically calculating correct depths of the eaves of the roof. We need to stop flying so frequently. Cheap air tickets have meant that far more people are flying far more frequently, and when you can get flights to Europe for half what it costs to take the train to London, you can see why. We already pay road tax on cars dependant on the size of the engine. There are already congestion charges in some cities, like London, where you have to pay to drive into zones.

My friends and I try to buy our vegetables by miles. That means that we buy seasonal veg that is grown locally when we can, and we do not pay for vegetables out of season, which are flown from the opposite side of the world. Sure, it is great to be able to get veg all year round, but nothing is quite as good as getting most in season. Fairtrade logo also allows us to shop ethically.

I am, without a doubt, on a soapbox tonight. But what are you prepared to do to save the planet for our children and grandchildren? What are the consequences of millions of climate refugees? Would we be some of them? What if there is no water? What if vast parts of the world is under too much water? What happens if the glaciers supplying the Ganges in India melt? Who is going to provide water for the millions who depend on it? What if the Amazon dries up and the forest dies? How many more hurricanes, heatwaves, and crop failures can the world withstand? What happens when harvests fail? Ask the people in Africa. They already know.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

This is my 149th post

Maybe I should do one of those 100 things about me for the next one. Hmm. I will see. I don't know if I can THINK of 100 things at the moment.
The weather is foul, and I have been finishing off a lot of the wooden things in the past 2 days, while David has been helping shift furniture for friends. This has been a quiet half-term for him, but I think he has been happy enough. Andrew and Ann are coming up next weekend, which will be great. I haven't seen them since the day before we left for Switzerland.

I have to make a decision about what to do about the hospital in the next couple of days. I got out the files 2 days ago, and got a headache just looking through them. I just want it all to be over. My life is split in two. My natural self is enjoying the creative buzz that making things for other people gives me, and my head is operating at 1000mph at the same time, processing medical matters, consequences and options. Then there is the everyday living to do too, and Mum and David to look out for, never mind constant thoughts of my older 2 children away from home as well. If you walked in now, you would see the creative me, (and the resultant chaos) but the head is something else. What is on the surface gives little indication of the mess inside. And I know people who are struggling with enormous issues, and I want to help but can't do much. So add frustration to the mix. Groan.

David is out watching rugby with Peter at the moment. We went to help unload more furniture for friends (well, he did.... I got to have coffee and chat) and then took the carpets to the allotment. All it needs now is a couch and coffee table.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jumbled thoughts

Sun, rain, wind and grey skies. All within a couple of hours. The weather seems mixed up, and that is what the past few days seem like too. not to mention the keyboard on this computer which is now refusing to do capitals. I bounced it and now it is more agreeable. no, here we go again. the cap button thinks it is the ctrl one. for some bizarre reason. And it is random, so works now and then. Like now.

Mother is having her hair permed as I speak, in my kitchen, and so far she has had her flu jab today, David has seen the doctor about his awful cough, collected his medicine from the chemist, and he is now helping Jon move furniture about. Next is Mum's trip to the dentist later this afternoon, so the day has been all about sorting the rest of the family out. Just call me taxi driver today. This is not one of my more bouncy days, for no reason at all. Things are just wobbling a bit, but the sun is out for a few minutes, so that is good.

Andrew and Ann went to France for the day yesterday, and did some shopping. They live so close to Dover, that it makes sense to pop over the channel, or under, as it happens, and get some european shopping done, especially in the run up to Christmas. Here, the shops have been full of Christmas things since September, because Halloween is not a big thing here yet (but it is growing) and there is no Thanksgiving. Now that IS a holiday I think everyone in every country should celebrate. It is a great idea, and one we need to do too. Even on a more frequent than annual basis.

You know how in Jewish tradition, the family gathers together for a meal on a Friday to share together? To light the candles and remember? I never did understand why some traditions were not continued in early Christianity. This is one I think should be reintroduced. We need to focus more, as a society, on thanksgiving rather than on dissatisfaction.

What else.......... My mind is a jumble today. I did mention being mixed up. My car has more old carpets in to take to the allotment later, and cover more of the ground to stop the weeds, and it has crossed my mind that the weight of them by next spring might be outrageous, sodden after winter. Oh well, I can hack them up then I suppose. As long as the weeds die I am happy. Spring is a long way away.
Right....... I think I need more coffee. I will be back.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Waiting game

The gas man was supposed to come today to service the boiler. He did not come. He called to say he would be here tomorrow, and that was after we sat in for 6 hours waiting for his arrival. And he had better arrive early. I don't know if it is just this family, or more specifically this boiler, but whenever it has its annual service, it collapses 3 days later, after working perfectly up till then. Watch this space. We will see. Last year it sounded as though a tank was sitting on the landing after it was checked. I do believe that it is the dust that holds it all together, and when it is cleaned, it falls apart. Sigh.

I have just been to our house group tonight, and we really have come a long way since we began meeting earlier this year. Initially, there was a little hesitation about discussing things more personal, and now that we are getting to know each other well, the barriers are coming down, and some of the things said are incredibly perceptive. We are going to have "clearness committees"..... when any of us have a dilemma we are wrestling with, we can ask for at least 3 girls to help us clear in our minds what is the right course to take, if we want to. Different eyes see things we might miss. And being accountable for each other is also something that is becoming easier. Ultimately we all make our own choices, but it will be with second, third and fourth perspectives too. It is great to get home and feel as though I have learnt so much from everyone there.

Woodwork continues, and I have some new ideas too to try out. But not before this lot are finally finished and packed away. I really need my kitchen back. I am sick of the chaos. And sawdust. But it is really satisfying to look at all the finished pieces!

Monday, October 23, 2006

All Saints

I thought you might like to see this photo of All Saints church here in the village. It has a Saxon tower built in 970AD.

Autumn is here

And so is the rain, and chilly nights as well. I have the heating on. I confess. So much for waiting till November! The days are flying by, and I have been working on the wooden things all day. And most of yesterday too. Do not ask re the kitchen. It is worse than ever. Please note the sawdust. And doesn't everyone use their sink drainer to stack angels??

Yesterday was cold and very wet, and so working in a cheery place was good. I decided to make more things. Bear in mind that I have NOT finished the last lot yet, but I sawed away happily most of the day and then started painting again. Then sawed more, and then sanded. This will seem very boring I am sure, but it kept me happy, so it is just fine. I am on a roll. My creative streak was interrupted when Pete and Glynis popped in for tea and a chat, which was lovely, and then I took Mum to Jean's for tea as well. Jean is the scone maker. Par excellence. Anyone with a free Sunday afternoon gravitates to her cottage for tea and scones and her wonderful homemade jams. The babes were there and so were Nicky, Bob and Kate, so that was fun.

Today has been more sawing and sanding and painting. All day. It is half-term, so David is home for the week, and that means fighting for time on the computer, but I am mother, so I generally win!

5 more things to be thankful for today:
  1. Being there to help when friends are struggling
  2. 2 hour chats to number one son
  3. Hugs from the babes
  4. A warm dry home
  5. Knowing I am not alone

Saturday, October 21, 2006

An ordinary day

Today I have:

  1. Been to the post office
  2. Bought some freshly baked bread
  3. Spent 45 mins talking to different people I bumped into in the village
  4. Washed my hair
  5. Painted more wooden things
  6. Stacked the dishwasher
  7. Sanded more wooden things
  8. Mopped out the fridge
  9. Cut out more wooden things ( I am crazy)
  10. Had too many cups of coffee to count
  11. Cleaned the bathrooms
  12. Cleaned the bannisters
  13. Had a visit from the babes and Jackie and Simon for tea
  14. Spoken to my cousin and family in South Africa on Skype
  15. Spoken to my sister in Switzerland
  16. Watched Strictly Come Dancing
  17. Cooked supper for David and Mum
  18. Dropped one of David's friends here for the evening
  19. Been out for dinner with friends to plan a 50th party
  20. Read emails and blogs

I have not:

  1. Returned the calls I was supposed to return
  2. Done the washing
  3. Finished the woodwork
  4. Finished the sewing
  5. Tidied the house
  6. Done anything exciting
  7. Pruned the roses
  8. Checked the allotment
  9. Sorted any more cupboards
  10. Finished reading my book

An ordinary day. Things can wait till tomorrow. It works for me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wise child

Last night, I was talking to my daughter on messenger, and the discussion turned to the events of the year not being great. I, of course, said, as I do annually, hopefully next year will be better. (I should know better!) Wise child said.... it won't be. There will always be awful things that happen. The part you need to focus on is how you grow from them in a positive way. How you handle the worries and not the worry itself is what matters. I did point out that the past 9 years had not been spectacular. She reminded me that 9 years was more than half David's life.

Wow. That pulled me up short. Half his life. I spent a lot of time thinking about that, and the last nine years took on a new dimension. If I look not at the awful things, but on what has happened because of them, it is amazing how different it seems. I am unrecognisable from the woman I was back then. Temper tamed, more patience, more faith, happy with so much less. I am calmer, I have learned how to prioritise, and rely on my talents more. I have had to sort out things I thought I could not do. I have learned to trust my instincts, and to be less confrontational but I can still be a warrior when I need to be. My son is a happy gentle giant. Undemanding and content. So focussing on the positive and putting aside the difficult, I can see how friendships have deepened, new friends have been made. My experiences have enabled me to be there to help other people when it has been necessary, and throughout all the turmoil, I have gained so much that is precious.

Wise child indeed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A year gone by

It is a year since Diana went to New Zealand. And how bad a mother am I that I can't be sure it was the 18th or the 19th. One of them anyway. What a year it has been for her. She has moved to a new country and new city, with 2 new jobs and new friends. She has settled so well, and just loves where she lives and the challenge of building a life somewhere different. She does tend to leap into life, if you know what I mean, and our loss is certainly NZ's gain. She loves the beauty of NZ and being so close to the sea, and she has a car, aka the Brown Rocket, and the confidence to get out and explore. I know there are times when she feels very far away, but there is the miracle of modern technology to help. Messenger, Skype, text messages, and email. And cheap calling rates. So we have been able to stay in touch and see and speak to each other.

I miss her dreadfully, of course, but she is in the right place for her. Having her home earlier this year was wonderful, but short, and not under the most ideal of circumstances, but seeing her was so great. So, happy NZ anniversary, Diana! We love you very much.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


This is the time to start thinking about Christmas letters and I know you all get the ones that list all the glorious achievements of families you know. They are hysterically funny at times, and I always try to read between the lines and imagine the reality in the "perfect" homes. I get loads every year, and I love them, but no-one EVER tells you when things go wrong. I mean, when last did you hear that someone's teenagers needed a stint in bootcamp? Or that little Jimmy was proving to be useless at football. Or that it was quite clear that little Susie was not destined to be a ballerina? That you could do with a visit from Supernanny? That Johnny failed his driving test? Sometimes I think of sending out one of all the disasters of the year instead. (Or just an email with my blog address instead and then they can read the bits they want to.)

Life is not rosy all the time. I am not perfect. I don't have perfect children. Great kids, but not perfect. I have not written a blockbuster. Just a blog. I am not glamorous. My nailvarnish is chipped. The highlights need re-doing. My house is generally chaotic. And it suits me. I have a normal family, and live a normal life. It is the sense of humour and the laughter that makes the difference. It is interesting and never boring. "Stuff" goes on here, and everyone knows they are always welcome........ people matter more than things here. They just clear things out the way and find somewhere to sit. After they have made themselves coffee.

And yes, I have done my letter already. Well, I wrote it and emailed it to daughter at the other side of the world, and she did magical things to it so it now looks terribly impressive. Everyone will think I am a genius. She knows how to do the complicated things I can only dream of. Did I ever mention that she taught me how to do a power point presentation while on messenger one night?? I kept wailing that it didn't work, and so she sent me "Mum's idiot's guide to powerpoint". It worked. Daughters can be very useful.

Back to my newsletter. I am sending mine out in November. The events of the year do not make for jolly festive reading, so I thought I would be considerate and send it before the trees go up, and the mince pies are baked. That way I won't depress everyone when they are expecting to be amused by my perfect family's glorious year. I should change the title to " If we can survive this year, we can do anything".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

D Day 2

I am shattered. It has been a long and exhausting day. Liz and I went down to Oxford early, and had time to have a coffee and walk around a bit before we went to the meeting with the surgeon. He told me what his impressions were, and listened to mine. He told me the facts from his perspective and in the end asked what I was going to do next. I told him I had been waiting to speak to him before deciding, but that I was doing nothing in a hurry. I will take my time now. I have a lot to think about, and a lot to wade through. But it doesn't stop here. I can't leave it yet. And he understood.

The hardest part was the fact that his office was right outside the door to the unit where Geoff died. But then, I decided to look at that as a positive, as he was not in some ivory tower miles away, but right there where he was needed. The relatives' room, which I spent so many hours in, looked small and ordinary and not at all like the place that was my whole world for those dreadful hours.

I also believe he understands the "instinct" thing that I wrote about in my post last month (D Day) and that was good to hear. He also asked if I was medically trained. Hmmm. No I said. I have just learnt a lot. He said I used medical terminology with great confidence and clearly understood what I was talking about. Good. Did I ever mention that I grew up wanting to be a doctor? All through my childhood. Then I believed the teacher who laughed and said I did not have a hope in hell of getting into medical school when I asked her to fill in the application form I needed. So I walked away from a dream. I was stupid back then. I should have tried anyway, (I would have got in... I got good enough marks) but just didn't believe enough. Don't ask me why. But that was then and this is now, and my life has been just fine thanks.

So..... here I am. Tick another box to say I have faced one more hurdle. Lots still to go though. Mega big ones. I know I am being very vague at the moment, and not telling you anything real, but whatever I decide to do next could involve me moving onto another level of instant learning. So I am watching what I say for now. He was a nice man. I think I trust him.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Somewhere I love

Back to Oxford

Tomorrow is probably going to be difficult. I am going back to Oxford, to meet the surgeon who operated on Geoff, (whom I have never met) to ask the questions burning holes in my brain, and to hopefully get some answers. It is 3 months since he died, and I am no nearer getting the explanations I need. I put away all the papers and medical notes after I met the consultant here, and concentrated on living, but tonight I have been going through them all again, to familiarise myself with the medical terms, and make sure I know what I am going to ask about. I haven't been back to the John Radcliffe Hosptial since I walked out the door that night, to tell my children that their father had died. My friend, Liz, is coming with me, and she will take notes so I am free to ask the questions.

Between the 2 hospitals, I have been sent about 800 pages of medical notes. What I didn't understand, I have looked up and learnt. Ask me about culture negative endocarditis, or pulmonary oedema, or an aortic valve abscess, or dyspnea, or stenosis, or cardiac failure, or trans oesophageal echocardiagrams. I can give you an answer. I had no desire to know anything about any of these, I can assure you. But now I do. Doctors say one thing, the notes say another, and I saw something totally different. Nothing adds up. Who is right? I have no idea. But I have to find out. And the inquest could take years. They say months, but the ones being heard at Oxford now are from 3-5 years ago. I am not going to even think about that.

Diana is right. Nothing will bring him back. But that doesn't take away the need to know why and what happened, and I owe it to him to find out. It cannot and will not become an obsession, but I understand why most people just walk away. It is emotionally exhausting, not to mention mentally and physically. I am weary just thinking about tomorrow. All I pray for is grace and patience, and a clear mind. And answers that make sense.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cars, coffee, cakes and conversation

  1. Warm October days (19 degrees C today)
  2. Lazy Sunday lunches
  3. Music that stirs the soul
  4. Inspiration
  5. Good books to read

The weekend is nearly over, and it has been good. Yesterday we went to the Traidcraft coffee morning, and it was heaving. So many people, and that was really great to see. Coffee and cakes, time to catch up with friends, and the opportunity to buy Fair Trade goodies too.

Talking about fair trade, there is a programme on this week re the cheap clothing sold at our giant supermarkets, and the link to children making the clothes in India. I will watch and see what the investigation has to say. While I am delighted to be able to buy clothes that are cheap, I do not want to buy things that encourage child labour. How do we know where any of our things are made? Or by whom? We have become so used to getting things for so little, that we lose sight of the person who creates them. I know this is a huge problem for someone like me, who makes things. I make quilts. Some have nearly 100 hours of work in them, and yet, if I were to sell them, I would get a fraction of the minimum wage for the work I delight in. It is better to give them away. There is a problem with the perception of "home-made". Home made still means amateur. "Hand" made is better than "Machine" made. But in the designer world, something really basic made by a big name, is commanding astronomical prices, while other things made by unknown people with great skill, fetch a pittance. Sigh. Another soapbox subject.

David and Simon spent 4 hours yesterday, fixing the hole in the exhaust of the "allotment car". Well, we do use it to go down to the allotment. David learnt how to do something really useful. If he wants to use the car, he has to learn how to fix it too! He and Simon were sprawled in the middle of the road so I had to take a photo while watching to save my son from being squished by any passing car. Chaos reigned while the babes played inside, Jackie discovered Beehive Bedlam, and Mum carried on crocheting, and I supplied "joos and bithkits". Happy chaos. The kind I love. The more the merrier. It was great to see David race outside this morning, to see if the paste had set on the repair. He then came in and announced that, in his opinion, it was ready to be test driven. I tested. Perfect repair. It no longer sounds like a tank.

Lunch with friends, church with more friends, and more painting. Food for the body and soul, companionship and creative expression....... who could ask for more?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Blog for history

I have just heard on the news that next Tuesday, 17th October, there is a project here in Britain, to get a blogging snapshot of life for history. We are supposed to list all our actions for the day, including text messages, calls, what we ate, did, thought, saw, said. It is supposed to be gathered for future historians many years in the future, to get a real view of life in 2006 in Britain. It should be a fascinating collection. Boring is apparently good too. The fact that our cars are petrol/diesel etc and what petrol costs. (My US friends may get a shock at that one) The price we paid for the things we buy. How far we travel. If we have cordless phones. How we get from A to B. How long, I suppose, the washing machine takes, and what we cook on, never mind what we actually cook. The best way would be to think in terms of how you would explain your day to an alien. Hmmm. I can't find the link, but will get it later tonight when the news is on again, and I am watching.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast/6044604.stm or

Thursday, October 12, 2006


That I have not being sitting here all day on the computer. I was on a roll, lining everything up to spray and seal them, and the wretched NEW spray I brought back from Switzerland seized up after the first lot, despite me shaking the can for the required 3 minutes before using it. So the assembly line is looking like the M25 in rush hour. (For those out of the UK, the M25 is the motorway circling London. Avoid at all costs....it can be a giant car park.) Tomorrow. One more day is fine.

David and I went down to the allotment this evening to check on the state of the beans and the weeds. Weeds not too bad, thankfully, and the beans...... I have another 3 kgs to freeze. Beans are beginning to pall, I confess. Too much of a good thing perhaps, but I am grateful to have them! This October is on course for being the hottest on record, and so there are still more to come. Geoff would have been so pleased with his efforts, and it is great to see David grinning with pride. He has done really well keeping them watered and looked after.

I had a surprise visit from Lorna, Simon and their little boy, Joel tonight. They walked round with some sticky buns Lorna had made for us. It is not long since they moved to the village, and they are a delight. What a difference friends make to my life. I know I keep saying this, but it is worth repeating. Friends are a real blessing, and MY friends are a special blessing. Making new friends is like adding more jewels to your crown. A collection of friends is the best sort of collection you can gather. They last. Possessions can't laugh or cry with you, and they can't listen or advise. Nor can possessions share a cup of coffee with you. Coffee. I need more. I am in danger of getting too philosophical again, and it is too late at night for that.

Eyes half closed

  1. Fun helping to make cyber friends smile
  2. Making new friends
  3. Tiny paintbrushes
  4. Super fast drying glue
  5. Laughter through the frustration!

After a marathon session on line last night, I am still half asleep. I cannot describe what I look like, but if I take off the glasses I look blurry so that is fine. Just fine. I visited so many new blogs, and saw so many beautiful photos of people and places I have never seen before. There is a whole world out there, you know, and this was a way to pop in and see how many simply stunning places there are still to discover. One day. People who are interesting, and funny, and who really enjoyed helping to make Mary at Owlhaven's day very special. There I was with paintbrush between the teeth, rushing back and forth to see what was happening.

The painting and glueing is moving on at snail's pace. Some are disasters. Some ok. But my kitchen is worse than ever. I HAVE to finish today. Sitting here writing is procrastination of the nth degree!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I was wrong

The snowmen now look like ghosts. Wearing top hats. I am doomed.


You know when you have an idea in your head, and just cannot make your hands produce what you want them to?????? I am there right now. I cannot paint. I can do walls and blank things. But all those little intricate ideas I am trying to paint onto wood? Hah! Forget. I am about to throw myself on the floor and have a major temper tantrum. Of epic proportions. My penguins look like they have been moth-eaten. And the angels look as though they live in a rubbish dump. With rats who nibble on their extremities. The snowmen are passable, only because they are white with black hats. And do not require fiddly painting. I can cut out the wood. I can sew anything. But I cannot paint. If I were sensible, I would find someone who cannot cut out wood but can paint, and we could combine our talents. Shriek.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rocking chair

I tried to change the name of the blog. There I was thinking I had done it, but it doesn't think so. I have no idea if you can do that sort of thing anyway. I decided on "Rocking chair reflections". Well, there is a rocking chair in the lounge, and I do reflect a lot. And I am older. Not old, mind, but older, so I can justify the rocker. And I found some wool. I knit scarves in autumn. I could well resemble the drawing by tomorrow. The highlights need redoing as well. Painting continues.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Painting part 2

The painting continues and the kitchen is worse than ever. Tonight's supper was whatever could be cooked in the microwave. Nuked in other words. Hopefully by tomorrow, the majority will be painted and I can get back a bit of order instead of chaos. There has to be an easier way of painting. My hand is not steady when I do little things. So frustrating when what is in my mind does not translate into art. Maybe I need a really small brush. Mum needs to go back to Hobbycraft for more wool (she is still crocheting blankets) so I could look and see what they have. I am rabbitting on here.

It is raining, and I have been to book club this evening. I have always read voraciously, but since Geoff died, I either fall asleep as soon as I pick up a book, or, if I am wide awake, my mind wanders all over the place, and I can't concentrate and have to re-read chapters, and so I am not reading anywhere as much as I want or need to. Never mind the 3 books I have dropped in the bath in the last week. Impossible to read till they have dried out a bit. I have a growing mountain of books waiting to be read, and while it is always nice to know they are there, I really do need to read them. Books are such an important part of my world. From childhood, when I used to read by torch light under the blankets, through every stage of my life. I always believed you could never be lonely when you had a book to read. Enough now. I am off to attempt a chapter or two.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Kitchen workshop

My kitchen is somewhere under the wood and paint. And piles of craft stuff. I know where the sink is because I have to wash the paint brushes. And the kettle is there. But the rest???? I need a workshop. That is quite clear. I have to shift boards about with drying paint, and trays of bits waiting to be sanded. Then there is the saw. It in no way resembles kitchen equipment. And it cannot liquidise or mix. On the other hand, maybe I should have sliced the butternut for the soup on it. Or bread. I hadn't thought of that. I wonder.....

Everything is either coated with sawdust or paint splatter. And I am getting to the stage where I want the "bits" to finish things off. I have NO idea where they are. Somewhere in the bowels of my sewing room cupboard, but I need a rope round the waist before I venture in there, so I can be pulled out when I get stuck among the mountains of vital necessities. Vital essentials for me, that is. Others may think I have lost it. Ok, I admit I love being creative. I love making things. I scrapbook, sew, make quilts, and make wooden things. I love trying new creative projects. I like learning how to do new things. I would love to paint, and will try one day even though I really do not think my talents lie in that direction. But in the meantime, my kitchen is lost. I used to have a magnet on my fridge saying " A tidy house is the sign of a misspent life". I think I need to find it. At least no-one would think this a boring place to be.

About the painting. I thought I would save time by painting everything that needs to be the same colour, and then moving onto the next colour etc etc. I have discovered that this might be good in theory, but it pre-supposes you have just 3 things to paint. Not a couple of hundred. I would need a church hall to lay everything out in the proper order. But hopefully some will be finished soon. After the painting comes the sanding again, and then the spraying. Then the glueing of bits on to the finished creations. Sigh. I could be here forever.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

And more things

  1. Neighbours who fix drainpipes for you
  2. Butternut soup
  3. Long chat with my sister
  4. Unexpected emails
  5. Freshly laundered linen

Blogging Mums

I told you all last week that I had stumbled upon a whole new world of blogging Mums, and I am learning so much from them and their cyber (I think) communities. When I can work out how, I will put a list of the ones I read on the blog. I am fascinated by their pride in being stay at home mums (SAHM) and their delight in being women who have faith. There does not seem to be the same stigma as there is here if you decide to stay home to raise your own children. I know that modern day economics in the UK mean that to just get on the property ladder means having 2 incomes to finance a house, but there is so much to be said for being around to delight in the home and your family. And a great deal to be said about the way SAHMs here are regarded as second class citizens.

And just when your family leaves, it is time to start taking care of your parents too, so if you can't be home, it means paying someone else to do what no-one can do quite as well as you can. I feel I could be about to leap on a soap box. That can wait for tomorrow. I need to go and cook. I will be back.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Even though I haven't posted my 5 reasons to be thankful every day, I still wake up and lie there going through new ones each morning.

  1. Daughter's play scheme being such a success
  2. Son's happy face after helping at Crusaders
  3. Autumn leaves starting to fall
  4. Answers to prayer
  5. Coffee in bed early in the morning (brought by Mum!)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Not much news

Hello. I don't have much to report. This has been a quiet week, but that is good for a change. I have sorted out more stuff, more phone calls, more appointments, and more application forms. It has been fairly autumnal weather, with rain squalls and sun alternating rapidly for the past week or so, and I am still refusing to put on the heating, but am definitely wearing more clothes!

The good news is that I decided to see what I had put away for Christmas (the shops are full of Christmas things, but I am not ready for carols yet) and my lounge has resembled a shop all day. I can, however inform you that I have FINISHED my present shopping. It is the 4th October. Miracles do happen. And everything is wrapped. Smug is good. I took Mum to Podington today for coffee and their Christmas shop is under construction and opens on the 7th October. Maybe I should go and do my Christmas cards now. Oh heavens, I have to do the annual letter and that is not going to be fun. DIANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Or I could just put the blog address in the cards, and then everyone can look up what the year has been like for themselves. Now that is a great idea.
The wooden things are in the prosess of being painted. Mum has been helping as well, which has been good. It was so frustrating at first but then I realised that, with no small brushes, it was impossible to do detail, and it wasn't that I was a total failure. I will show you some of the finished masterpieces when they are done.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Well, the weekend is nearly over, and it has been surprisingly busy. Good kind of busy. Saturday was Matt's birthday and although I did remember it this year (a change after the last couple of years where I have spectacularly forgotten) and popped in to see him, he and his 6 uni friends who came to celebrate were still asleep. At noon. Enough said. Apparently they rolled in at 5am.

The afternoon brought an unexpected trip to watch the Saints play at home. A friend had 2 spare tickets, so David and I went along. They were dire. Unspeakably dire. A team of school kids would have put on a better performance. They could not pass a ball, catch a ball or kick a ball. They lost. But I had a good time, and watching Bernie (the mascot dog) was fun. I was told not to bother to take a coat, and right in the middle of the game the heavens opened. It rained sideways. As in under the stand covers too. I was less than impressed, and the guys started praying for sun in case they had to deal with an irate wet woman on the hike back to the car. Luckily for them it dried up just enough to get back without getting drenched.

Last night was lovely. I went to Liz and Jon's for "drinks and nibbles" with Nicky, Bob, Pete and Glynis, and we really had a great time relaxing and chatting. Good wine and excellent company.... who could ask for more. Soon it will be time for fires too. It is much cooler, but I am still resisting turning the heating on. I do wish I had a real fireplace.

Today was The Great North Run and there is nothing nicer than lying in bed on a Sunday morning, watching all those MAD people go out and run a half marathon. The world's largest. 50 000 people. Mind you, I think I would like to do it once. Just once. Maybe I will start running again. Maybe I will think about next year. Maybe. I seem to remember it being on my list of things I want to do before I die. Sigh. It is a very very long list. Most years I get to cross fo a good few things on it, but then I go and add even more to the end of it too. The list includes books I have always meant to read but never quite got around to. Places to visit. Things to learn. Things to experience. Dreams. Things to get round to doing, or making. There are hundreds of quilts in there too. Somehow, I don't think there will be many crossed off this year.

I found another blog. Well, I found a whole community of bloggers really. It is amazing when you go from one to another, and there are all these people out there with so much to say. One was very thought provoking. I have been back to it a few times this weekend to reread what she says. I will add the link for you to go and check it out. Look at the "30 days of nothing" and related posts. Just read through what Tonia has to say at Intent and see what you think.

So, after a Spring Harvest gathering at lunch time and church at the Christian Centre this evening, tidying the house for tomorrow and catching up on my emails etc, it has been a good weekend.