Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The bags are packed and we're ready to go!

List completed. Bags packed. House immaculate. Bills paid. Garden watered.
Passport? Check.
Money? Check.

We are ready! We leave tomorrow morning for London and fly in the afternooon. It suddenly occurred to me that we will never experience the 2nd August 2007. I do hope nothing memorable happens that day, because it will never be part of my life. Weird, that.

Today has been warm and sunny, and people have been popping in all day to say goodbye. The last friend left at 11pm. I vacuumed around their feet as they chatted. I am flexible like that. And I don't want the friends looking after the house to think I am a slob, of course.

David and I spent a hilarious hour trying to work out how to shave off his beard. Where are men when you need them? We decided that with it, he bore zero resemblance to the photo in his passport, so it came off. Unfortunately, Geoff never did get around to instructing him in wet shave methods, and me? What on earth did I know? Hah. With a few telephone suggestions, we managed on the 3rd attempt. He was convinced I was about to lop off his ear with the scissors.

So............. I will be back, my friends. From exotic foreign parts! Be good, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Over and out. For a while.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nearly time to go

The sun shone today, and it looks as though it will be for the next few days. Typical, isn't it? I get ready to go away as the weather finally limps into a summer of sorts!

Excitement, mixed with a high degree of disbelief that I am finally going to see my daughter, is reaching fever pitch in the House of the Rocking Chair. There are about 4 things left on the list now, and one of them just happens to be "Pack". Um, yes. That would be good. I have travelled a lot, and I am good at packing. I always put out everything I think I might need, and then take half of it. I can get by with very few clothes on holidays. Diana assures me that they do indeed have shops, so in the worst case scenario, I can actually buy things I need. And exploring different shops will be great. Sigh. I cannot believe I am really going. Me. Right around the world.

It has been good too to have the time to relax here at home. It has not all been racing about and sorting things. There has been time to simply sit in the rocking chair and do nothing. I cannot tell you how much I have needed that! Sometimes I fill up my days to overflowing, and then wonder why I become ratty. The older I get, the more time I need to reflect a little and relax.

So much to be thankful for.
  1. The friend who made it possible for me to go to NZ
  2. The prospect of a holiday with all of my children
  3. The friends who are looking after our home
  4. The friend who is taking us to the airport
  5. The joy I am feeling right now

It is time to put away all the other "stuff" for a while. It can wait. Life is all about living right now. It is today that counts. Cliches I know, but true anyway. We are going to make some memories. Happy fun ones. I can't wait.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Look! Potatoes from the allotment! S0mething GREW! Not just weeds!
And courgettes too! I was so excited I walked into some stinging nettles. Fortunately there are dock leaves close by so I was fine.
David and went to check out the veg today and to do some weeding. The beans are a disaster, but the potatoes, onions, courgettes, broccoli and brussels are all doing well. So are one lot of peas. The weeds, however, are doing best of all. We will go back tomorrow and tackle them again. If the rain stops. (Yes, it rained again.)

Saturday morning reflections

It is Saturday morning, and the sun is shining at the moment, and there is no wind. It really looks summery. Hold on, I need to go and take a photo.

Look! Just whispy cloud! (And a hedge which seriously needs hacking back too.)

The apples are ripening on the tree.....

And I saw this butterfly on the lavender too....

I have spent the past few days trying to get organised for our holiday, and the list is shrinking. I am one of those people who absolutely hates leaving a house which has not been cleaned, linen fresh etc etc, and everywhere I look I see things to be done. Sigh. I am also one of those people who comes home, no matter what the hour, from holiday, and immediately has the washing machine on, and cases unpacked and put away. But that is weeks away. We leave mid week.

Diana has plans for our stay which include Napier/Hawkes Bay, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Auckland, Waitomo etc. Not to mention Wellington of course! The Coromandel too, I hope. And everything in between. And it is all new to me! And even though it is winter there, apparently they have had some warm and lovely days too, so I live in hope. But in the end, who cares about the weather? We will see and do everything we have planned, come rain or sun.

Those of you who have been around for a while will know (because I talk about it!) that I wake up in the morning and lie there, and list in my mind, 5 things I am thankful for before my brain really starts to work. I have found that this is an amazing way to colour my day. It is very hard to let panic or worry or anger or negative or pessimistic thoughts take over, when you are thankful. And it is incredible how, even on the dire-est of days, there is always something to be thankful for. More than 5 things.

At night too, I lie there and think back over my day, and the people I have interacted with, both here and in real life, and how much I have learnt and experienced, and even on what seems to be a boring day, there is so much which is new and exciting. To me. I want to be able to see like this when I am very old too. Anticipating adventures. Dreaming. Interacting with people, and sharing their ups and downs, means caring, and caring means exercising all the emotions visibly. And we all know that all exercise is healthy!

I had an email from one of the great young teachers I have been working with a few days ago. He said " you are different from the other people I have met in this country, because you are caring and you don't hide it." I have not written that to get any accolades, but because it is something I have mulled over ever since. It worries me. The fact that to a young man working in a strange land, we give the impression of being an uncaring society. Or more accurately, of a society which hides the fact that they do really care. Can anyone tell my why we need to hide the caring sides of our nature? What is it that makes us subconsciously stay detached? Fear of getting involved? Fear of perhaps having to step outside our comfort zone to do something practical to help? Fear of making ourselves vulnerable?

Maybe we are back to that ladder thing in the workplace, and status. If the places where we work are peopled only by the young and ambitious, often working thousands of miles from home, how many examples are there of caring and the setting aside of "self" to emulate? What if these young people do not have a church to adopt as family? It looks like a very hostile and scary world from that perspective.

What does it cost us to take some time ask a question, and really listen to the answer? To try to help find solutions to problems? To laugh and cry with people? To really care and not be afraid to show it? To go and talk to someone who is usually alone? To reach out? None of my business? I don't think so. Modern working environments seem to be driven by acceleration up those ladders, and there is an unhealthy emphasis on using the weaknesses of others to emphasise one's own strengths.

And if status and advancement just happen to NOT be your goal, then you are perceived as being a threat to those up the ladder, because without those dreams of status, there is no leverage. Hmmm. Give me the "Mother" tag any day. I love people. They are more important than things. I find people fascinating. And if I can make a positive difference to their lives, then I am very very thankful.

Do people know that you care?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lists tend to grow

My list is getting longer, and I cross off a couple of things and then add 3 or 4 more. This is not working quite as planned.

  1. 2 pairs of size 14 trainers for my son. (He is 6ft 4" after all!) A mega achievement. Size 14 is not easy to find. Sigh of relief.
  2. Suitcase (wheelie type) so I can actually think about packing. You know. So I might actually have some clothes to wear on holiday.


  1. Cleaned house. Vacuumed everywhere. Then had visit from the babes and their parents, and Margaret. Start cleaning from the beginning again, after Dorito crisps were consumed by said babes who move like greased lightning. While eating. Who cares. I adore them all. And I ordered son (recipient of 2 new pairs of shoes) to do vacuuming.
  2. Transferred data from old mobile phone to new one. It has taken hours. I am sure there is a quick, techno way. I do not know it. I even read the manual. All I care about is that the numbers are where they should be. Is it my imagination, or are those buttons getting smaller each year? Or is it the arthritic creaking fingers I seem to have developed?
  3. Cooked supper
  4. Visited Louise and Peter with son. (The one with the 2 new pairs of size 14 trainers.) Ate carrot cake.
  5. Posted mail. Visit to Post Office coincided with cloudburst, so instructed son (the one with 2 new pairs of shoes) to do the necessary. He got a little damp. I was absolutely horrified when he told me he had never been to the Post Office to buy stamps in his life. But then, his generation does not seem to use the post at all, do they? It is all on-line everything. I did inform him that he made many trips to the PO as a child. They could not have been particularly memorable.
  6. Copied all data from computer to portable hard drive. I felt the need. So I can take it with me on holiday.

Weather: torrential rain whenever I opened the door. It stopped when I came home. Maximum temperature today, in the middle of summer 13 degrees C.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Friends and family

Summer might have been yesterday. We actually saw the sun for a while, and it even got quite warm. Normal service has resumed again today, however, and the rain is back again, together with the warm clothes. I should not complain, though, given that half of the country is flooded and 1000s of homes have been ruined. Drinking water is being delivered to the worst areas, as the water companies say they will not be able to connect the water supply for at least 2 weeks. Dire. Just dire. I am dry and my home is just fine, so I have no right to complain at all.

Our holiday trip is getting closer and more real now. Things are getting crossed off the to do list, and Diana has been planning our time travelling about North Island. We will be getting to see a great deal, and it is all very exciting! I am most excited to be seeing my daughter though, of course. And my best friend since university days too. For all of us, I think this is just what we need. Something really special and new and good.

Linds and I met in residence in our first year at university in Cape Town. Yes. We have the same name. And then we both married Englishmen called Geoff who were both 11 years older than us. And the same minister married us, though it was not planned that way. The minister who was due to marry them fell ill, and the one who married us stepped in. I had Andrew, then she had K, and then we were both pregnant at the same time with S and Diana, and the same obstetrician delivered our babes, so we used to plan our checkups at the same time. We can tell by a look just what each other is thinking, and we have the same sense of humour. We have conducted searches all over town to find the same toy for our children, and we have the ability to visit each other, go home and then spend 2 hours on the phone continuing the conversation. She is the one I called at midnight when I tossed a birthday cake at the wall. She did not think I was insane. She is the one who used to conduct midnight searches for chocolate through her children's rooms by torchlight. Quite reasonable, I thought.

We went to have our ears pierced together, in our 30s, and she ran away after my first ear was done, so I flew after her and hauled her back to have hers done too, and then we rushed to the ladies room to check out our new ears, and celebrated with toasted chicken mayonnaise sandwiches at Stuttafords. Oh the memories.... We once went shopping and spent hours trying on classy nightwear and lingerie, sending the assistant off to find fancy heeled slippers to go with our gowns, and had hysterics in the changing rooms.

Linds and Geoff moved to NZ in the 1980s, and we dreamt of having a fax to stay in touch. They were newfangled things back then. Space age. Then we got them. That was so exciting! Seeing letters spewing out. Then we dreamt of having computers ........ with email. And that happened too. You have to remember that when we were at university, computers occupied enormous basements and had big round wheels with tape with holes in, and binary code had to be learnt, and cards inserted, by the geeks who thought holey cards were exciting. We were not among them. We used slide-rules at school for maths and log books!

So yes, we got computers. We had arrived. Then came email and our cups ranneth over. Then came mobile phones and we could send text messages! From coffee shops! Instantly! Sigh. Then there was broadband and cheap calls and stuff like messenger. And digital cameras and photos flying back and forth instantly. Technology is just wonderful. So you see, the communication has never stopped for a second. We are part of each other's lives in the best of ways, and always will be. I know when she goes shopping, or when she plays golf. How she is feeling. And she knows me better than I do myself sometimes. And I have never sat in her New Zealand kitchen drinking coffee. Yet. But I will soon.

Friends like this are beyond price. Shared history, and shared laughter, tears, children, families, growing older, creaks and groans, encouragement and sympathy. Empathy. I have watched her children grow to wonderful adults, as she has watched mine. I don't know them well in person, but I KNOW them, through their mother. I have not seen her for a few years.

So now you know just how special this trip is going to be. My daughter will show me her new home and her life in NZ. My friend and I will have time to catch up in person. Sigh. Things are looking good right now.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I am losing my mind

Just so you know, I am having ONE OF THOSE DAYS. No, make that weeks. One of those weeks. For two days in a row, I have somehow managed to go out wearing my clothes inside out. How on earth do I manage these things???? You would think that at my age I should have learnt how to dress myself. The first time, I realised as I was about to go into the supermarket in the village, and went back to the car and stripped off my top and put it on the right way. I was beyond caring about making a spectacle of myself, but I do think I managed to escape detection. Oh heavens, I just remembered CCTV cameras. Oops.

Yesterday, I went the whole day "inside out", and only realised at night. Then spent a couple of hours rewinding my day's activities through my mind to see how badly I had managed to humiliate myself. It is just possible that I need to get some new glasses.

And I have spent the better part of 2 days looking for my daughter's birth certificate. It was very safely in my filing cabinet weeks or months ago, just where it should be, until she asked me to send it to her. So I took it out, and left it on the table. Then I forgot to post it, and remembered to put it somewhere safe so I would not lose it. Hah. So safe that I could not find it. I turned my study and sewing room upside down looking for it. I went through every cupboard in the lounge and every table and desk and shopping bag of papers (my upmarket filing system) and nothing. It was nowhere. So I gave up this afternoon and phoned the records place and ordered a speedy replacement. For nearly £30. (It is cheaper if you do not need "speedy". I need speedy.) And 10 minutes later, I turned over 2 cushions on a bench and what did I find??????????? And no, I could NOT cancel my speedy order. Oh well, one can never have too many birth certificates can one? And can anyone tell me why I open my mail and put it back in the envelope? Why don't I throw the envelope away? Do you KNOW how much space envelopes take??? I have filled my recycling bin today.

And the final straw was when I went to the village to get some odds and ends, and when I attempted to come home, my car refused to move. The engine made a distinctly odd noise. So I sat there, and let it rest a while, (and ate a carrot cake) and then tried again, so I had to get the AA to come and rescue me, and it was raining, of course. I could feel my hair rising as I stood there. And the lovely helpful man who arrived in under 15 minutes ( which is a world record, I reckon), just put his hand in the engine and said "Ah. Try it now. " It worked. Some vital thingy had come loose and he clicked it into place. I did ask for the exact location of the vital thingy so that I could do it myself in future. I mean... everyone should know about vital thingys.

And there you have my day. Scintillating to say the least.


I have at least managed to clean and organise every cupboard in the house, and my sewing room and study. Not to mention I have also sorted all my school things. None of these happened to be on the "to do" list of course. I know.... I can add them on and cross them off and it will look most impressive.

And now I am going to bed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I have published my post. I clearly selected publish now. It refuses to do so. Blogger????? Your days are numbered.

Catching up

Well, let me see where to start.....
  1. School is over
  2. Holidays are here
  3. I was not wrong about looking for plans for Noah's Ark
  4. Harry Potter is out
  5. It is still raining
  6. NZ getting closer

One phase of my life is over. These phases seem to be passing very rapidly. Maybe that is because I am not a sweet young thing any more. By any stretch of the imagination. My very last day to school was bittersweet in a way. I said to my class...Shall we play a game? No! They yelled...We want to make things. So there we were, the only class in the school actually doing work in the last few hours before holidays, and all because the children chose to. One of the assistant heads just happened to pass through my classroom, and I can honestly say that I had a secret grin on my face as he looked rather astonished. I was dying to say...Well, we were told to teach up to the final bell. But that would have been nasty, pointed and not very nice. But I would have felt sooooooo good!

I had so many kids coming in to say goodbye and I got some lovely gifts too. Cards, and gifts from the kids, department, my boss, technician, the LSAs. One little girl had made me a sewing kit full of beads and sequins and stuff. How sweet is that. I stayed down in the department at the end of school, and we had a party there with the people I love. I didn't want to go to the main staffroom. And I came home. I will be doing a post ( writing a book!) on what I see is wrong in our schools one of these days. So many simple things which could make all the difference in the world. But that is for another day. Or maybe not.

You may have seen that Britain is under water. The rain yesterday was staggering. More fell in a couple of hours than usually does in a month, and driving home, there was water spouting out from the drains in the roads like geysers. The rain is still falling. People spent the night on motorways, and thousands of homes are flooded, villages cut off. We are fine in this area, and as I think I have said before, living on a hill has its advantages. But to the west of us and north and south, things are very different. The weather people say that maybe Tuesday will be a little brighter. TUESDAY??? That is days away! Then more rain. They try to look bright and cheerful as they say..But the rain won't be as heavy as yesterday! Hmmmm. It is still rain. Wet. Very wet.

The excitement of the day yesterday was going to queue at Tesco at midnight for Harry Potter. My 18 year old son has grown up with J K Rowling's books, and the queue stretched across the huge carpark. I breezed past and went to look at books for me in the store. And toilet paper, as one does at midnight. Of course. Then I went out to watch the queue and chat to half the population who I either knew or taught. Diana called from NZ to say it was going on sale at 11am there, and so all over the world, everyone could only buy it at exactly the same time. Unbelievable global arrangements. Apparently every outlet selling it is displaying posters of little Maddie who was abducted in early May, and never been found, at J. K. Rowling's request.

David came home to read, and I toppled into bed, and when I heard movement this morning I asked how far he was, and it was 400 and something pages, but he had fallen asleep at some stage. He is still reading, as I speak. Now I personally am not a Harry fan, but anything that can get the kids of the world reading through the night is brilliant as far as I am concerned. That is why the release date was midnight last night, as it was the beginning of the UK school holidays.

I bought the Memory Keeper's Daughter for myself while mooching about waiting for David last night, and I am looking forward to reading it. I know Mum wants to read it too. Mum???? I have got it! (Cheap at Tesco too!) I also bought the House at Riverton, by Kate Morton, which has had great reviews. It is her first novel, and looks excellent. I will report all.

It is so exciting to know I will have time to read, even if it is on the very, very long plane journey we will be going on soon. Because we are stopping briefly in LA, (to refuel I assume) I thought I would have the time to buy a couple of US magazines and one of the Rieses peanut thingys I have read so much about, but NO. My daughter tells me that there is absolutely nowhere to buy anything. We get off the plane, are fingerprinted and photographed go to a room with chairs and water, and get back on again. And fly off. So, if anyone in the LA airport staff happens to be reading this, I personally think it would be a very very kind thing to arrange for a magazine and sweet (candy) stand to be put in the transit place. For me. Hey, California, I WANT TO BUY SOMETHING! Sigh.

Right. I need to go and do something constructive. Like make coffee and recline in the rocking chair (which sadly no longer appears to have any springs, and which makes alarming noises when one reclines, but I am happy to overlook that. ) I may even watch some golf from Carnoustie.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My childhood home

Mary from Owlhaven is hosting My Childhood Home. Memories of the homes we grew up in seem to stay fresh forever, don't they...
I grew up in a happy home. I remember when our house was built. I was 5 when we moved in, I think, and just starting school. My Dad had designed our home, and he was overseeing the building too, so most of our weekends were spent climbing over a building site. We loved that. I remember balancing on the brick walls of the foundation, and imagining the rooms which would one day make up our home. I can also clearly remember the stone chimney being built, and how we helped to place one particular triangular stone.
The great thing about my home was the huge cellar, which was above ground on one side, and below on the other, as the house was built on a hill. We had many band practices down there, and parties too. It also flooded in wet weather, as the house was built on an underground stream, until Dad had waterproofing put in!
I remember my corner room, and being allowed to decorate it as I wanted. I had a space age (for the 1960s!) light, which you pulled down to whatever height you wanted, and the room was turquoise and orange. Do not ask. I loved it. I was a bookaholic as a child, and I still am today, and Dad brought home a library style bookcase which took up the entire wall of my room.
I remember playing tennis in our driveway. I remember hitting tennis balls on the kitchen wall, trying not to hit the huge windows, and dreaming of being the next tennis star. We were one of the first families I knew to have a swimming pool built, and that was because my parents thought it would stop them from having to drive to the beach every weekend in bumper to bumper traffic. I remember that it worked. Our home became the gathering place for all our friends, and instead of driving, Dad had to BBQ for the masses. Repeatedly. People always popped in when passing.
Our home was the centre of all things good. Mum baked a lot, and sewed, and was always creating something new. And she was always there. Christmas nights were for everyone. No-one was ever actually invited... they just arrived, and sometimes there were 30+. All ages, and even after I got married, that continued. Huge buffet meals set out, and children in the pool and running about, Auntie Myra starting the carol singing in her beautiful alto voice, wrapping paper everywhere. And you know, the amazing thing is that every one of those people who used to arrive, still remember those nights as being really special.
When I went to university, I moved into residence, and every weekend, I would lead the convoy of cars back home with all my friends, and we would either lounge around the pool, do Greek dancing in the lounge (causing Dad to go down to the cellar to see if the floor could stand the stamping!) or simply relax. It was that kind of place.
I always wanted a wedding reception in the garden, and that is just what I had. 200 people on a beautiful hot March day. It was the best wedding I had ever been to, until my son got married in Switzerland, and had his reception in my sister's garden.
And my children all learned to ride their bikes in that same driveway. They also had birthday parties there. We only sold the house when my parents had to stay in the UK when my Dad got so ill. They never went home. My sister and I were there to pack it all up and ship it. Now it barely resembles the home we loved. It was modernised, and altered, and added on to and just the chimney looks the same. I can see it on Google maps.
In retrospect, it was a huge house. With a great garden. Space for everyone, and lovely high ceilings. At the time, it was simply home, and the place everyone loved being. Fires in winter, barefoot in the garden in summer, making playhouses out of sun-umbrellas with towels pegged to the sides, the stunning mountain there to see from every window, tall Christmas trees with twinkling lights, and the shrieks from the pool.
Now where on earth did I put the photos?????
PS: Blogger is refusing to put spaces in between paragraphs, and I am giving up trying to outwit it, after 7 attempts.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The miracle of the telephone

The telephone is a wonderful thing. Especially when it is really cheap to call friends across the water. I spoke to Morning Glory at Seeds from my Garden yesterday, for the first time, and I am still smiling.

The woman I have grown so fond of became real. She has a lovely soft voice, and clearly smiles a lot. I could hear it in her voice. I know things that she thinks about and wonders about, yet I had never heard her speak. In a way, I know the inside, but yesterday, I got to meet the outside too. How special is that. We chatted away as though we had known each other for years, and it is so nice to have an added dimension to what I hope will be a long friendship. The time before you call is the worst.... what if she is not happy to get a call.... what if I can't think what to say... what if there is a silence...

Well, none of that applied. Morning Gory is a champ. She heard me and said... oh my.... Linds! And that was all it took. 40 minutes flew by and so help me, we would still have been on the phone, if my son had not returned home and (loudly) interrupted the conversation! And now we know we will meet up next summer. So much to look forward to!

I like phones. Especially when they make me smile.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I am back again!

My sister has been and gone. I need a holiday to recover! Even though I was working a great deal of the time, we still managed to get to most shops in the county, and she had a good time. We had a bbq for friends here on Saturday evening, and it DID NOT RAIN! I hope you are as amazed as we were. My friends were here from Scotland for a flying visit, and so it was great to all catch up with each other.

On Sunday, we drove down to lunch with Andrew and Ann in London, and once again, we had sun. In London, mind you. Not on the road home. Oh no, the rain was definitely back with a vengeance then. David managed to take this photo of Marge, which I happen to think is lovely. She says I am saying that just because her face is blocked out. But I really do like it anyway. And yestaerday was a 3am start to get them to the airport to catch the plane back to Switzerland. I was home by 6, and did a couple of loads of laundry, wrote some letters, filled in a form or 2 and loaded the dishwasher, before I left for school at 7.45. So by last night, I was a trifle comatose.

And now I have just 2 more days of school left. One and a half, really. My girls are not happy I am leaving, and I am wary of walking about in the grounds at the moment, as they all come and wail, and that sets me off too, and I can do without it. I just have to get through the next 2 days. I dropped off some things I had been carrying about for some girls after sports day yesterday at student services (it was washed out half way through, and I was in the middle of the field, drenched and clearly wearing a transparent skirt. I decided I was too old to worry about it..... but I digress....), and the staff there said....if you knew how many distraught girls we have had in complaining that you are leaving..... And I just said... I can't talk about any of this, and went off to teach. Sigh. It is hard, you know?

Anyway, word is out that I am going, and I now have anything between 20 and 40 kids in each lunch time to sew. They keep flying through the door and saying...Miss, can we PLEASE make cushions/bags/wallets etc etc etc. And so I say yes. Of course. And that is another reason I am comatose. And every teacher on the planet seems to be beating a path down to my room too, clutching things they want me to repair. And remembering that they meant to ask me to do a, b, c. Bigger sigh.

I looked at the overlocker at the end of the day, and it was jammed solid with a piece of material, and the needles were broken and I walked into the staffroom and told the other teachers to come out and attempt to unblock it, on the grounds that they are going to have to do this when I am gone. No-one has a clue what to do. I showed them how, and it took 20 mins, and the department head said...No, I am just going to phone you and beg. So, I am trying to tidy up loose ends, leave instructions for the girls and idiot proof guides on how to make their projects when the time comes, and which teachers in the school may be able to help when and then there is the paperwork....... Oh well.

Yes. I am sad to be going. I still think I made the right decision, given the circumstances. But it is sad. I am sad for the kids.

But then, just look at the rainbow that appeared last night. I have never seen one so bright. We seem to be having monsoon like weather. Torrential rain for short periods, floods all over the country, and then blazing sun the next minute. Within 15 minutes of the rain, the ground is bone dry. Summer is distinctly weird this year. I have managed 2 bbqs so far though, so that is better than none.

And then tonight, I saw the first balloons for a long while. They were up and flying over the garden, and to me, this means summer is here. It is time for the rain to stop. I have rarely had to wear a short sleeved anything so far.

And so that is the news. I have missed you all, and now that my laptop has been returned to school, I have to duel with David to get a chance to use the main one. I need my own laptop. Having a son at home is lovely in one way, but a little inconvenient in another!

And soon we will be on our way to see Diana. I have not given it a thought yet. No time yet! After Friday I will be able to switch focus, I suppose. And YES, DIANA I AM VERY EXCITED THAT I AM COMING TO SEE MY ONLY DAUGHTER!!!!!!

So, I am back. I cannot tell you how much I have to go and read to catch up with everyone. But read I will. And anyway, the house was cleaned for the bbq. It is just fine, and I will ignore any dust. Holiday time is coming!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just a quick post

To tell you that my sister is indeed here. She has arrived. I will tell all when I have a second to draw breath. I hurtled out of school as the bell rang this afternoon, raced home to collect Marge and Mum, and off to the shops we went. For 3 hours. My feet are falling off. I am seriously out of practice.
And now I am going to rest the aching toes, and chat. Tomorrow there will be a repeat of today...racing home to take them out shopping in the other direction this time. Hobbycraft, here we come!

I will be back!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More ramblings....

It has been a long day.......

  • Mum has proved she is indeed who she is. Do not ask. It entailed a visit to a neighbouring town to be interviewed. Officialdom gone crazy. Memorable only for the look on the interviewer's face as she looked at my mother's naturally brown hair and said " You are quite old!" For heaven's sake, Mum will be 82 this year. I have more grey hair than she does, which is not reassuring at all. (Stress highlights, remember!!)
  • The above official necessity meant I only had a half day of teaching, but had to stay late to review all coursework. It is done. I am a star. Well, I didn't want to have to work late in the next few days because......
  • My sister arrives tomorrow. Late. After I have attended the Awards evening for school. 3 line whip time. "Directed time" which means no excuses, you will be there. On stage in formal attire. In my case, I think I can interpret that as sit-at-the-back-near-the-wings-so-you-can-leave-rapidly-as-the-ceremony-ends-and-head-to-the-airport-4o-miles-away-to-fetch-sister. We should get home by midnight.
  • I told my Year 10 girls that I was leaving at the end of term. They were very taken aback. I timed it for the end of the school day to avoid long discussions.

The weekend was a strange one, but it is over now. Lots of friends popping in to check on us, and the sun shone too, for a while. We had the first bbq of the year, and Roger won the tennis at Wimbeldon, which was tough on the nerves, I have to say, but a great distraction. I do like it when he cruises to victory. Nail-biting stuff is exhausting!

Thank you all for the lovely messages and support. It has made a difference. The first year is over. And we are fine, if a little weary.

It will be great to have my sister here for a short visit. She is lovely, and full of energy. Whirlwind is a good description. We will be trying to fit in expeditions to the places (shops) she wants to visit, around work, but I am quite sure we will manage perfectly.

And now I need to go to bed. Tomorrow will be an even longer day!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Guess what................

Guess what arrived in the post today ALL THE WAY FROM COLORADO???????????????

The recipe cards from Barb which she made for Mandy's wedding!!!! I was so excited when I saw the envelope with the US stamp on it.


AND THEN......

I called Barb to thank her. On the phone. And spoke to her. I SPOKE TO BARB! Well, after we established that I was not someone from eastern parts trying to sell her something, that is. And it was just so lovely to hear the voice of someone I feel I know via the wonders of our blogging world. We discussed whether green tomatoes are unripe or a special kind, as we had both read Boomama's latest post. And I asked the questions re baking soda vs baking powder which I am never sure about when I am following an American recipe. And we just talked. Sigh. It was lovely. In fact, it has made my day.

Barb, it was great to talk, and thanks again!

Friday, July 06, 2007


I came in from lunch to find a bouquet of flowers on my desk from the great people I work with in our department. It made me cry. They remembered.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


IT IS RAINING. Ok. I have got the weather out of the way. They say it is the wettest Wimbeldon in history.

Today we had a mini (as in toddler) fashion show after school. My Year 10 non examination girls have made toddler dresses and so we found a couple of models and rigged a catwalk out of my tables, draped a backdrop with some of my fabric, and it was absolutely great. The big girls were so excited to see real live babies in the dresses they made, and I was so proud of them. The lazy ones, who have not finished their dresses will be SO put out tomorrow in class when I show them the photos. I foresee a sudden spurt of dressmaking on the horizon.

The springs on the 2 most comfortable chairs in my house have expired. Kaput. One now descends to the depths when one sits in them. This is not good. I decided to do some repairs today but have left a vital piece of equipment at school. Most of my useful tools seem to have found their way to school. I must start rounding them up to bring home. Tomorrow. I will do spring repair tomorrow. How exciting. We may not need to consider installing hoists after all.

My sister is arriving for a few days next week, and that is something really good to look forward to. I could point out that this time last year it was in the mid 30s every day. She flew over exactly a year ago next week, to be here for the funeral. She should bring her wellies and winter gear this time. Marge???? Do you hear? I wonder where I can get plans for an Ark.......

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

An explanation

Some of you have asked questions about the inquest. You are right, and in 99% of cases, the death would have been registered within a couple of days. Then there is the 1%. That would be me. Or Geoff, rather.

I had a call from the Coroner the day G died, to say that he was unhappy re the fact that a man who was healthy suddenly deteriorated and died within a couple of weeks, and that he was ordering an inquest. I was quite happy with that. In fact, I would probably have called and requested one. The Coroner then issues an interim death certificate, and that can be used for some things, but as a temporary measure, and not at all for other things, which is why so much is up in the air. You cannot register a death with an interim certificate. You can have a cremation or funeral.

The cause of his death will be established at the inquest. The Coroner cannot apportion blame, but can decide on the cause. We know how he died. Why is another story. I know, but the Coroner has to decide in his court. And a lot of things could be made very simple depending on his verdict. As some of you know, I am also in the process of taking legal action against the hospital for failing to diagnose or treat Geoff.

This is why I say at times that I am an authority on cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. And all related cardiothoracic diseases, and operations. I have had to be, to make sure that what happened to this family does not happen to another one. Or more.

I have also been called as a witness and will have to testify, and will be cross-examined. I did not expect this, but you know what.... I will be just fine. No-one knows better. I was there and I remember everything very clearly. All the doctors have been called as well. 6 of them at least. They will have to answer the Coroner's and my questions. I have been told that this is the best chance I have of getting the answers to so many of the questions I have to ask. Under oath, they have to tell the truth, and when you have hospital notes which quote a doctor as saying "the patient's condition is unimportant" you have lots of questions.

The reason for the long delay is because Geoff died in Oxford, and the Oxford Coroner deals with all the military deaths in war zones, and also high profile ones. So the ordinary men and women have to wait. But as I have recently heard on the news that they are hearing cases from the 1990s, I am relieved that the wait is just 15 months.

So there you are. More info on inquests than you ever wanted to know!

And on a totally different note, I wish all of my friends in the States a very happy 4th July!!!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A date to find the answers at last

We have a date at last for the inquest. 10th October. I have been called as a witness too, by the Coroner. I know it seems a while away, but it is a date, and hopefully we will get some answers at last.

When Geoff died, I remember being aghast when I was told that it took 7-10 months to get all the statements in. Well, now it is a year, and finally it looks as though everyone has responded. You can have no idea how relieved I am to finally have a real date for it all to happen. And as this is the week of the anniversary of his death, it is a good time to find out that I will finally be getting a death certificate in the forseeable future. It seems as if everything in my life has been on hold all these months. In a way, it is as though it is all happening again. You know all those people you have to send copies of the death certificate to? Well, they are all out there, waiting for the final one too. It all has to be done again. All those letters. I have not even been able to register his death, a year after the event. It is all vaguely surreal.

10th October.

It has been a wobbly day. Superficially everything is fine. Under the surface? Wobbly. But that is ok.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Just another day......

School was diabolical. The kids were impossible. I was not a model of patience and love as a consequence. End result? Dire. Just dire. 14 more days to go till the holidays. It seems like 140 right now.

And you would never guess in a million years, but it is raining yet again. Sigh.

If I sound ever so slightly out of sorts, it is because I AM. Even my boss said as I left..... tomorrow is bound to be better. Of course it is. I just have one diabolical class tomorrow, and I have already told them they will be copying out a boring text book because of their failure to do anything they were told to today, and for being appallingly rude to me. One little gem told me to shut up and go away.

And did I ever mention the sweet innocent cherub (13) who decided that setting up a trip-wire to send me flying was a good idea? Projecting my voice (as I was told to do in a louder fashion a few weeks ago) was NOT a problem. I do believe I was heard 6 blocks away. My kids crashed back into their seats like gibbering wrecks. I am not anticipating any more problems with that class. Ever. My latest cunning plot is to suggest that the Marines come in and take over the school for a couple of weeks. That could work.

Oh yes.... just another day in paradise then.

People have been asking me what I am going to do next term. The truth? I have no idea yet, but I am certain that I will end up just where I am supposed to be. There are people who worry about me, and then there are people who believe in me. I am calm. You may feel free to remind me of these words if I turn into a basket case in a couple of months time.

In reality, I have a lot more on my mind. Bad things. Good things. Sad things. Exciting things. Frustrating things. Challenging things. Lots and lots of things. My mind is not a simple place. It is more like a jungle of memories, lists, problems, dreams, hopes and fears. Jungle being the operative word.


I have so much to be thankful for.
  1. Great friends
  2. Healthy family
  3. Dreams
  4. A holiday to visit my daughter in NZ
  5. Faith

Now ....if only the sun would shine.......

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sleepless nights and consequences

Where has the weekend gone? The fact that I seem to have developed sleeping sickness could account for a large part, I suppose. This is not the medical condition, I hasten to add.... it is an exhaustion-related-not-sleeping-decision-making-condition, and results in the patient falling asleep whenever he/she sits down for 2 seconds. I have the Concert for Diana on in the background right now, and there are parts which have caused me to shut my eyes and wince. Therefore fall asleep. (Most parts are just fine, though!)

I digress.

Things of note:
  1. Car bombs diffused in London. Close to where my son works.
  2. Terrorist attack on Glasgow airport. Close to where Ros lives.
  3. Britain is now on critical level of alert.
  4. More rain.
  5. Princes' concert for their mother.
  6. Oh yes. I resigned.

That leap of faith? I took it. Interestingly, my daily readings last week were all about leaps of faith, and how we tend to want guarantees before we leap. Hmmm. I know that. But I think I have entered the "leap then think" phase of life. I had no choice really. The school is restructuring, and they offered me reduced teaching hours and more support hours and a very large drop in salary, and which ever way I looked at it, it didn't work.

Making the decision to leave my girls was devastating, and I developed a severe case of "hayfever" to disguise the tears in one of my classes. One of the girls said to me ... You will never leave us, Miss, will you? You love us. I looked over to the letter lying ready on my desk and just said...Sometimes things happen and we have no control over the outcome, sweetie. She looked at me and said... Everyone leaves. No-one cares. We are just the throwaway kids. It nearly broke my heart. But I also have a son of my own. I will be there till the end of this term.

And then? Who knows. But in all those leaps over the past year, I have learnt a lot. He doesn't break His promises.

The timing could have been better. This time last year....... we were about to get the news that Geoff needed another valve replacement. 6 days from now it will be a year.