Saturday, May 31, 2008

More lazy days

The rain has continued, and summer seems an illusive dream right now, but I am still loving these lazy days. It is not freezing, so the garden is growing at least a foot a day, it seems, and my roses are all in bud.

It is early morning, and the house is quiet. I love the silence and the peace. I have my hot coffee next to me. My quilt is waiting on the couch, and I have decided that writing on the computer is finger therapy. It gets the creaking joints moving slowly in the mornings!

So here I am, letting my fingers write what they will today. My head is a swirl of thoughts, as usual, and instead of fighting to order them, the joy of the past week has been to let them arrange themselves how they wish. Being, instead of doing. There is a lot to be said for that.

I think about my friends, and how their lives are changing, with weddings, the advent of grandchildren, graduations, illness, separation, divorce, retirement and death touching their lives in so many ways. The common thread here is change. It is all changing. "It" being life. Nothing stays the same. What worries or pre-occupies one on a Monday is different on a Tuesday. Change is a constant, strange though it may sound. Fighting change is like trying to stop the world from turning.

My life too. Change and I are well acquainted. We tend to battle quite a bit too. A lot actually. For over 31 years I have been primarily a mother, and that intense, absorbing role is almost at an end now. Not the mother bit....that never ends, but the intense on the spot Mum bit. My third child is about to launch himself into the world, full of dreams and the nest will be empty. I actually don't have a problem with that kind of change, you know. I delight in watching my babes spread their wings. They do tend to fly a little further than I anticipated, but I can cope with that. Most of the time.

But it means change here too at home. Maybe it is time for me to relaunch myself into the world too. Old birds can learn to fly again. (Mind you, ostriches can't. Am I an ostrich? Forget them.) The temptation would be to stay here in this place and curl up on the couch. And watch the world from behind my windows. It would be safe. It would be familiar. There would be no hurt. No risk. No pain. I could just weave my memories into beautiful works of art. Safe.


Me? I don't think so. I have plenty of memories thankyouverymuch, but not nearly enough. Not yet. I am 54 and hear me roar. I will race out the door, and throw myself into something and yes, I am probably going to get hurt. Get bruised and battered. Dented. Maybe broken too. But that can be fixed. Just think of all those memories I could add in the process.

I do know that I have to look beyond this village, where everything is safe and sorted, and where I am part of a small close community. The illusive "something" is out there calling my name. And it is getting louder by the day. I can't ignore it much longer.

But right now, it is healing time, and that means it is just fine to head back to the quilt on the couch. Maybe by the time I have finished all 3, it will be time. The right time to pick up a few of those challenges, and embrace both the tears and the laughter as I learn once more to fly. I am reminded of the enormous older aeroplanes like giant transport planes. And the little jaunty fighter planes. One needs a short (if any) runway. The other needs half a country to lumber into the air in an ungainly fashion. I would be the latter. I need a long runway. But I will get up there in the end, and you know what? I can fly further. There is more in the tank. I may not be zippy or pretty, but boy, can I go far!

Watch this space.

Friday, May 30, 2008


This week is racing by. Me? I am not doing much racing, I confess. I am being more like a slug. And oh, is it good.

However, slugs do not have much to report at the end of their rather slow days, and neither do I. I have had time with friends for coffee and chats. I have been quilting. I have been reading. I have been getting up later than usual some days, and I have been doing more of the "let's help our friend choose beds, linen, curtains, carpets" thing. Yes, the bathroom and kitchen are sorted, and now, so is the bedroom. It is good fun spending someone else's money, people. Really good fun!

It has been wet most of the time, so curling up on the couch with the quilting is perfect. I just don't want it to end. This is what I love doing.

When I am being creative, I have the most amazing feeling of contentment, as I watch something emerge from the movement of my hands, and ideas in my mind. Right-ness. This is why I like hand quilting. Because this is the time when I can think and reflect on who I am making the quilt for, and the significance of the bits and pieces I add. Sometimes, I know that only I will get that significance, but that is fine. There is a part of me in everything I make.

And the quiet is something I cherish.

Those of you who are regular readers know I am making a small quilt for each of my children from the shirts that their Dad wore. They were supposed to be ready for Christmas. Hmmmm. Maybe next Christmas is more realistic, given that there are 3 of them. And my daughter asked for some cushion covers too, so there are those on the go as well. And even though everything was washed, somehow there is that faint smell of their Dad as I work. So the memories are there all the time. That is what these are. Memory quilts.

I don't follow patterns. I am a non-conformist in every sense of the word. I just make things fit together in a way I like, and then I may do beading, embroidery, couching, whatever else seems to work. I love every second of it. You may have guessed that by now!

The hours whizz by, and my hands creak a little more. There is stuff I should be doing, I know. But right now I am taking this time as a gift, and a blessing.

And I am smiling.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The morning after .......

Well, that was fun! Thank you, everyone, for your lovely birthday messages and cards......I had a lovely day.

I had decided not to do anything special, just to potter about, and somehow the day ran away with me, starting with a visit from a friend on her way to work. At 7.15am. The doorbell rang and I looked down at myself, and decided, oh who cares, and marched to the door, dressed in my gown, wrapped in a blanket and with hair which looked as though I had had a close encouter with a tornado. She laughed as I said....and now you see the glamorous side of being 54! But I was delighted to see her, and she was not in the slightest bit phased by my stunning appearance. That is what good friends are for, after all.

Between answering phone calls, I decided to make a cake. Well, all I can say is that this was perhaps taking multi-tasking a step to far. The cake got made, but I could just have left something out. It looks a little odd. I certainly did get the order of mixing things wrong, but anyway, my son says it is edible. Strange, but edible. That is good enough.

So my day was great. Lots of visitors, and lots of calls, and in the middle I managed to re-pot the tomatoes, and just enjoy it all. The moments. Birthdays are fun.

I look at the photo Diana posted and wonder how it is that that same little girl having fun watering the plants can possibly be the woman I see in the mirror this morning. So many good things have happened in her life. So many adventures lay ahead of her when that photo was taken, and she didn't have a clue. She didn't worry about turning 4 or 24 or 54. She just enjoyed the moment. I should have re-created that photo yeterday while I was watering the tomatoes, perhaps. And then when I am 74, I could look back at it and many good things have happened in her life, and she didn't have a clue back then what was lying ahead, couldn't I?

Good things, bad things. But when I look at that photo, all I see is the joy. I don't remember it all, just things from that period of my life, and you know what, from the distance of 51 years, they all seem to be good. Wonderful. Happy. Joy-filled moments. I am absolutely certain my mother could relate the dark side of me being 3. But she never photographed those moments for posterity, so they vanish into the ether, thank heavens. I mean, who really wants to have a photo of themselves in the middle of a temper tantrum??

I want to be like that little girl, just enjoying the moment. Maybe that will be my motto for this new year of my life. Enjoying each moment, without expending too much energy worrying about the "what ifs" of my life. I don't have a clue what kind of adventures there are lying ahead for me, but if I am excited about all the possibilities, that has to be a great start.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Hijack!

Happy Birthday Mother Dearest!

Yes indeedy everyone, the lovely lady is a grand old *cough* 54 today! Not only doesn’t she look a day over 21, she’s the most fabulous mother anyone could ask for and a wonderful blessing to so many. Have a wonderful day mum, lots and lots of love from all of us xxxxxxxxx

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rain...Rain...and Rain again...

It has rained solidly for the past 2 days. Days when the country and I were all on the roads. Not pleasant. Slow, tedious, dangerous, and thoroughly exhausting. I cannot tell you how many lunatics there are on the motorways . I think I have seen them all in the past 2 days.

Anyway, we are home from out visit to Andrew and Ann, and we had a wonderful time. There was much playing of the PS3 and singing too.... remember Singstar? And we had raclette for dinner, which was wonderful.

Yesterday, we all went to Canterbury to see the university which David is hopefully going to go to in September. It was wonderful. It is a campus, as opposed to a city uni, and I had a chat with some students we met there who all rave about it, especially the science departments, and say they are so happy they made the choice to go there. David says it is even better than he had imagined, and he is so excited.

This was taken at the university... This is the view of Canterbury and the Cathedral from the hill, where the university is situated. How stunning. He will be so happy there, I think/hope, and now all he has to do is work and get the results he needs for admission. 2 weeks to go till he writes the rest of his finals.

Ann is very musical, and plays the trumpet, guitar and the piano, and now, the tuba as well! She showed me the 2 tubas she has, and so help me, they are almost as big as she is. She is having a wonderful time in the band she plays in, and I asked if she knew how to play this monster, and she said, she just worked it out. I did mention that she was very musical, didn't I??

This morning, we all went to a huge shopping mall close by, so the 3 of them could go to the new Indiana Jones movie, which they were less than impressed with. Apparently the plot left something to be desired. And me?? I walked around the shops. It was sensory overload. I never go shopping, because then I spend money. And today, half of England was in this shopping centre, because it is a Bank Holiday and it is raining. So the nation goes shopping.

It has been so long since I browsed, that I didn't know where to start, and I spent what money I had with me very rapidly. Little things. But so much fun. For a while. But after an hour, I had had enough, and the queues for every restaurant were miles long. So I sat and watched people instead.

Close to where they live, there is a road which is prone to flooding, and both yesterday and today, we had to drive through deep pools of water. It is amazing how the sight of large pools of water makes people very wary. After fording the flood 4 times in 2 days, I was beginning to wonder if I had terminally damaged my car, but even though it coughed and spluttered a little, it kept going. And we got home too.

So there you have our break away. Wet. Very wet. But with a house full of your own kids, life looks good, no matter what the weather does!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Time to choose...

There is something wonderful about the first day of the holidays, isn't there.... just the thought of all the possibilities and options there are to choose from. I was lying in bed this morning thinking of what I might do today and even though I continue to wake at 5am, it was such a lovely feeling to run through the things I love to do, and mentally take them out and savour them.

The greatest thing is having the opportunity to direct my own day, instead of being directed. This is something I have been giving a lot of thought to recently, and some things are beginning to fall into place neatly. I think I have found a way to be able to use my talents and to be able to spend time doing the things I believe I am meant to be doing. Everything I have learnt over the past couple of years is, in a way, preparing me for the next phase, and seeing it, and realising what I can learn, makes the waiting easier.

While a lot has been whirling about in my head, I have started talking to some people about it, and the response is wonderful, as are the perfectly timed calls from people like my old boss. People who know how things happen and what is needed. So watch this space......

So today I got on with my quilts, and crawling over the floor of the sewing room pinning things was a delight. Not the floor bit, the pinning. It means that my creation is slowly coming together at last. I love the hand work stage, and that comes next.

I have visited some friends, chatted to others on the phone, and also to my children, and have pottered about the garden doing some tidying and sweeping. Everything is growing so fast now, and around here, the labernum is in flower, and the trees are no longer sticks pointing to the sky. They are covered with new leaves and growth and colour is bursting out everywhere.

Tonight is the Eurovision song contest. This is something one has to see to believe. It is always a source of great mirth here in the UK, and we are all devastated that Ireland's entry of a singing turkey was eliminated in the last round. We always come bottom or 2nd bottom, as the rest of Europe does not like us. But that is fine. Voting is definitely political, and we roll with laughter as the countries name their choices.

I have the option of going to 2 different friends' homes to join them tonight for Eurovision parties, but you know, I may just stay here, curl up on the couch with my quilting, and relax.

That is the beauty of holidays. Time to choose.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Of sea and ships.....

First let me just say that this holiday is for a week only, people..... we still have till the 19th July to go before we break up for the summer. Heaven only knows why it is so late. I know Europe breaks up for their holidays round about the end of May or beginning of June. And our system means that our kids are writing their important public exams in the heat of the summer, sneezing away with hay fever and the like. Ideal.

However, a holiday is a holiday. Even when it is just for a week. And David and I are going to visit my son and daughter-in-law for a couple of days too, which will be wonderful.

While I was writing about the books I gathered to take to sea with me, I was remembering how amused the rest of the officers and crew were when I arrived to do a deep sea trip with Geoff, with Andrew and Diana in tow. The sight of the mountain of luggage certainly had them in stitches. But I am a mother, and I believed in being prepared.

Geoff was a senior officer in the merchant navy, and he travelled mostly on giant container ships. The accomodation was good, great even, and there was a swimming pool as well. I used to get the officer in charge to fill it with about a foot of water in the mornings, (it was about 15+ft deep I think) and we would climb down the ladder and play in the waves created by the ship's movement in the bottom, until the officers came to swim, and then it was filled completely.

But back to the mountain of luggage. I always took a huge box of paper, scissors, glue, sticky tape, pens, crayons etc, so that we could do craft things together. When you are at sea for a couple of weeks, you need to be creative. In more ways than one! We made the most wonderful collages. I usually let the children pick a theme, and covered one of the cabin walls with the background, of say, under the sea, and every day we would make more things to stick onto it. Diana loved making fish and mermaids, buried treasure etc. Andrew did the submarines, warships and divers. I did the fancy seaweed.

Well, the first time we took Diana deep sea, (she had to be 2 years old, and Andrew would have been 6) we had just been at sea for about 3 days when Geoff woke me one morning and said...I think you need to look at your daughter. (Please note the "your"....the children were mine if there was a problem!) She is covered with spots. Gee. Thanks. A great way to wake up. In the middle of the ocean with a child covered in spots. She had chicken pox. The captain got out his huge captain's guide to medicine, and came to the cabin door and asked me if I was sure it was not smallpox. I informed him that I could rule that out as it had been eradicated from the earth (this was 1983) and he was somewhat mollified. He did tell me, though, that according to his great book, Indian people ran a high risk of complications from chicken pox, and that as most of the stewards were Indian, we were confined to the cabin.

That mountain of luggage???? It saved my sanity.

We made paper chains long enough to decorate the entire ship. And it was a BIG ship. We glued and stuck things everywhere. We comandeered every toilet roll on the ship and made rockets, people, cars. You name it. When it was lunch, and everyone was having their meal, I was able to take the kids outside to get some fresh air, but not for long. The trip was over Christmas, so I knew I had a good few presents stashed away for Christmas day, and as they were the only children on board, on Christmas morning, everyone arrived in the cabin to watch them open their presents The Captain was the last to arrive. And promptly lifted the confinement order, because most of the ship's officers were scrunched in the cabin anyway.

So we were able to go and see all the decorations we had made all over the ship. It has to be the most festive one ever. And those men stopped laughing at my magic box of tricks. In fact, they used to tell their wives to bring similar stashes when they travelled. I must find time to scan in my old photos and then I can share some of them here.

One day I will write more about those days at we used to lie on our stomachs at the bow, watching the porpoises and dolphins dance in the bow wave.... how we saw whales and flying fish, how beautiful it is to get up at dawn and watch Table Mountain appear on the horizon, of storms and sunny days at sea, of wives doing aerobics in the lounge every morning, of near misses when a ship cut across our bow, of bbqs on deck, the challenges of keeping small children safe on giant ships. Of the constant sounds we learnt to identify, how we knew when we were going astern, how attuned we became to the movement of the sea under the ship....... of the day when no-one could find Geoff, and how they tried to keep me from realising how worried everyone was......

All the memories come back when I set off down a path of thought.

Maybe my life has not been so ordinary after all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Books. Words. Imagination.

Long long ago, back in the olden days when I was very young, I fell in love with the written word. I can't remember a time when I did not love books, reading and all the worlds I could enter just because I turned a page. There is no possibility of boredom if you read. I cannot remember ever being bored. And reading fires the imagination and gives birth to dreams you just cannot imagine.

I grew up with the Enid Blyton books. I believed wishing chairs grew wings. I believed in the faraway tree, and I absolutely longed to go to Mallory Towers boarding school. I loved school stories so much that I remember designing the architectural plans for my own school in the Alps, and I even designed the uniform, timetables, rules, menus etc. A la Chalet School books. See what I mean about imagination? Mine was fired all right. I was going to be a champion rider like Jill, a nurse like Cherry Ames, a detective like Nancy Drew.

I remember going on special trips to an old fashioned bookshop in the city centre, which had books up to the ceiling, and those old library ladders to get them down. The smell of bookshops is special. I got to choose my own first grown-up version of the Bible there, and I still have it today, all written in and the holding so many memories.

My friend and I used to meet in the public library after school and we read everything in the children's section long before we were old enough to move on to the adult books. We were such regulars, that we were allowed to borrow books from the grown-up section which the librarian deemed suitable. And she made it quite clear which were out of bounds! Oh the excitement when we turned 12 and graduated to adult books and a whole new world!

Books were the one thing we could get on demand in my family. My parents never refused to buy books. Other things we had to wait for, but books? No. The only problem was limiting my choice. I never could just get one at a time. My father managed to acquire a library bookcase for my bedroom, and it took up an entire wall. And when I was older, I used to babysit in order to buy more books. I used to sit my mother down and say...... name a subject....and I could find something on my shelves which covered it. And I had read them all. I just needed to know things.

Books..... I have many. I am also given to understatement. I have MANY. I have had massive "culls" over the years, when I have been in danger of turning my home into a library with no room for the humans who live in it, and that is always such a difficult process. Books are so much more than bits of paper glued together. It is the words that are the magic.

It appalls me that the children I work with spend so little time reading. This is the generation of instant gratification. Reading is work, and why bother to read when you can see the movie? I overheard some kids talking about studying Shakespeare for exams, and the general consensus was to forget reading, just watch the movie version.

You will never walk around our school playgrounds in 2008 and find a child reading. Or a group reading books. In fact, it is highly unlikely you will find books that they want to read for pleasure in their backpacks. Magazines, maybe. Books? Not really. That is why the Harry Potters of this world have been so important.

To me, one of the greatest pleasures I can imagine, is curling up on the couch with a good book, and the time to lose myself in it. Be transported. Feel my imagination take flight. Move into another world. Escapism? Oh yes. But in a wonderful healthy way.


Words , whether mine or yours, have such power. For entertainment, for influence, for bearing the innermost reaches of our souls, for learning, for teaching, for sharing, for sweeping us up and carrying us into new places. The words are what make me come back here time and time again. Words tumbling about in my mind, and words spilling out, seemingly without my direction.

There are times I sit and stare at the screen and my mind can't focus on the next thing to write, but if I just let the words out, they sort of slip into a rhythmn of their own. Words are what link us all. Every one of us loves words, or we would not be here. We all love reading, and we all love playing with the words, and adding our unique imaginations to the mix we are privileged to share.

I have been known to cook an entire meal while reading a book at the same time. To go on long car journeys, reading all the way, yet still managing to see everything about me. I have also been known to pace the house when I have nothing to read. An Amazon delivery is one of my best things. Ripping open that cardboard to get to a new book is such a wonderful experience!

Hmmm. That sounds a little weird. But I know what I mean.

When I went to sea with Geoff, I had to make sure I had more than enough to read, because my worst nightmare was being in the middle of the ocean with no more books. Thousands of miles from any bookshop. It doesn't bear thinking about. The ship always had a library, but the content was not exactly exciting. I think the books all came from the Mission to Seamen charity shop. And science fiction was never really my best thing. Or books with gore dripping theatrically across the cover.

See what happens when I start to talk about books? I forget when to stop. That could also be because right now I am out of new books, and have not had the time to go and get any. So I will read some blogs instead. I have to read in bed. Or I cannot sleep.

Tomorrow is the last day of school, and I am looking forward to NOT falling asleep at 7.30pm every night from sheer exhaustion. One day to go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pushing a rock up a hill.....

This is proving to be a somewhat challenging week. Nothing new then. Work is tough, and everyone is as exhausted as I am, even if they are half my age. This is reassuring, as I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me. For heaven's sake, people, I was asleep on the couch last night at 7.30pm, and it was just Monday. I woke at 10.30 and was still wide awake at 2am. Ideal for optimum firing on all cylinders at dawn. Of course.

Today was more of the same, except I had the added delight of a chat with the powers that be at the hospital, who seem to think that rescheduling our meeting for the end of June is reasonable. I disagreed. In fact, I was just a little tetchy. Mad even. Yes. Definitely furious. I pointed out that I had been patience personified, and had been waiting since October. Making concessions, and compromises to suit them along the way. And that I was now clean out of conciliatory reserves. When the person I was talking to informed me that I had no option but to arrange to take time off from work (unpaid) in order to fit in with their busy schedule, I informed them that I was, at that point, too furious to continue with the conversation, and that we would continue it at a later date. And I put down the phone.

So I am all sweetness and light at the moment. Dancing a merry jig. Sometimes, I just wish it would all go away.

At times, our own hurdles seem to be the size of mountains. To someone on the outside, it may all seem so minor, but to the one in the middle? Maybe not. And as much as we may try to leave the stress factor aside, it rears its ugly head, and we are toast. I am mixing metaphors with abandon tonight. And that suits me fine.

Almost a year ago, I was talking about jumbled thoughts. Maybe it is a seasonal thing for me. My mind is not the calmest, most tranquil place at the moment. I am writing here, while the brain is composing letters at the same time. I am planning lessons in one corner of my mind, and computing timetables for airlines in another. The "to do" list is growing as fast as the weeds in my garden, and hibernation sounds like a good option.

In the end, though, the things that make life good, no matter what happens, are people. The smiles when I walk into the staffroom. The sounds of my son cleaning the patio again as I walk in the door. The phone call from a friend to see how my day has gone. Little things. Small insignificant things which make it all worthwhile. Never underestimate what a simple call or message could mean.

My sense of humour and I will resume normal service when I have the energy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekends need to be longer

Weekends are too short. Have you noticed how fast they whizz by?? And then the week takes forever to pass. But we have just one week until the halfterm holidays, and I do believe I can survive 5 working days. Tomorrow it will be 4. See? I can count.

Today has been marked by many yawns. I woke yawning and have continued to punctuate my words with yawns all day. I need more sleep. I remember how my Grandpa used to have what he called "40 winks" in his chair in the afternoon. He seemed extremely old to me as a child. Now? Maybe he was not that old after all.

Or maybe I am just doing what I call "real living" at the weekends, and trying to cram everything into 2 days and I end up cmpletely wearing myself out. Not brilliant. But fun anyway!

Thanks for all your comments re my missing emails. I can report that things are slowly returning to normal around here. They are dribbling in slowly. I do like it when things work.

Like hot water. Remember my friend with the bad building experiences of a couple of days ago? When I asked how things were progressing , there was a long silence, and then a sigh. And I committed the cardinal sin of shrieking with laughter when I was informed that the toilet was now in place and functioning. The only problem was that it was flushing hot water. The plumber has crossed the pipes. Somewhere under the newly tiled walls and floor. Tiles which had to be collected from up north. A long way away. Expensive tiles I helped to choose.

My amusement was not appreciated. This puts a new spin on the words "flushing money down the drain" given the cost of energy at the moment. (Yes, I am back to that again!) I must admit that my own sense of humour would be awol if I were the one having to deal with this blunder.

Anyway. I need to get some sleep. Oh, and my hot water is not what it should be, by the way. It is luke warm. I am indeed going to have to get the plumber in after all. But absolutely NOT the one working at my friend's house.

Where have my emails gone????

Well, excitement does me in, people. I was alseep by 9.30. I need to get into training for an exciting life, if I intend having one!

I have a question. For some reason, since yesterday, I have not been getting emails of comments posted. Does anyone know what I should do? I have cleared the cookies and temporary interntet thingies. And I have checked the spam thingy on line and there is nothing there either which looks remotely like a comment. Other unmentionable stuff, but no comments. I am assuming you bright people understand all the thingies. They show up on the blog, just not in my inbox. I WANT THEM IN MY INBOX. Help!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

London with friends

Here we go...... my London adventure was wonderful. WONDERFUL!! And before you wonder, the complete picture above is so hideous, I had to crop it. Never let a completely strange man stand up and take a photo of you sitting down. It is an unfortunate aspect. Very unfortunate.

But, here we are. And the happy smiles say it all. I have had the most wonderful day with Morning Glory and Barbara, and I hated saying goodbye. Morning Glory is my very first blogging friend, and I am so glad we got to meet. It was quite amazing how we could read each other's mind instantly, and one look was all it took when we were walking down the street, and we both knew what the other was thinking. So there was much laughter, and the talking. Oh my word. There was a great deal of talking. And also a great deal of coffee. And did I mention the talking???

When I arrived at the hotel, I realised that I did not have a clue what MG's surname was, but fortunately she was there in the foyer waiting, and recognised me immediately. I had visions of holding up her photo and saying... I want to speak to this lady.....

We walked through Hyde Park, and talked all the way. Then we found a coffee shop and sat and talked. And we got on the tube, and you guessed it, we talked all the way.

MG and I met her husband in the Crypt of St Martin's in the Field, a famous church in Trafalgar Square for lunch, and there was more talking before her husband sprinted off up the stairs to hear and watch the bell-ringing, and we set off to meet Barbara at Canary Wharf. In the rain. We spent a great deal of time moaning about the state of our hair, which did not do well in the constant drizzle. And we made a fatal error not having some photos taken at the very start of our day, before the rain.

We had intended to walk along the river at the Docklands, and it would have been stunning had it not been so wet. I think MG was cold here. I certainly was. Barbara was waiting for us, and thankfully, she recognised us straight away, or I might still be trying to work out the map she sent me! We found a coffee shop, and we sat down to chat. Indoors. Where it was warm and dry. The hair did not recover. I had not realised just how huge the development is, or how many malls there are, all inter-linked. There are loads of restaurants with tables along the quaysides and I can just imagine how beautiful it would be on a sunny day. Like last weekend. However, it did not stop the talking. Or the laughter.

We didn't have a lot of time with Barbara, as we had to get back for our various plans in the evening, but it was wonderful to get together. 3 women from 3 countries, drawn together by the blog world. The fact that it was the FA Cup Final, also meant that we wanted to get back before the match ended and the trains all filled up to capacity. This photo was taken as a joint effort by us, as we sat on a bench at the top of the escalators at Baker Street tube station. We had to go in different directions there, and we decided we had more to talk about, so we sat down and carried on talking.

And it was hard to say goodbye. We knew it would be like this. We knew we would be friends. In real life. So much to talk about and so little time!

It was great. Just perfect.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Birthdays and adventures.....

Remember how hot it was last weekend????? Well, today it was 9 degrees C. I am less than impressed. Especially as tomorrow I am off on the train to London for another adventure. I am meeting Morning Glory and Barbara , and yes, I am excited.

Actually, that is a monumental understatement. I AM BOUNCING WITH EXCITEMENT!!!!! Hopefully it will not rain. And anyway, if it does, who cares. There will be much chattering. This is an international gathering, people. We have lots to discuss. Like all of you. I will report back tomorrow.

All my rather unrealistic plans to appear elegant and at least 20 pounds lighter have gone to pot. Bother. Mind you, that would most definitely not have been the real me, would it now. And as I have just thrown the clothes I intend weariNG into the washing machine, I may be a little damp. I can always say it was raining here. This is England, after all. And Barbara knows me, so she would probably have been rolling on the floor in hysterics if I attempted the elegant bit.

And I left the best part of all till the end.................
Most important of all, today is my oldest son's birthday. He is 31 today. This is the wonderful son who, with his lovely wife, arranged for Diana to fly home for Christmas. The son who travelled at sea with his parents for a year before his sister burst on to the scene. The son who is super bright, and super stubborn. The son who gave me plenty of grey hairs through his teenage years, but who emerged from those "interesting" times, a man of integrity and honour. A man I am incredibly proud to call my son. How can he be 31 already?
Just look how cute he was when he was either 3 or 4 years old! ( What can I say...I have 3 children. The years tend to blend together!) This special child bacame this special man......

And here he is with his wife, his sister and his brother on Christmas Eve last year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!! I love you loads and loads.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

He does indeed surprise.....

He has been known to surprise me, I said. I should know better than to issue challenges.

After I wrote the last post this afternoon, I was feeling a little emotionally drained. So I sat here, and then absent-mindedly googled some medical query relating to Geoff. And my eyes flew open, my hair stood on end, and I went from page to page and googled more things as they popped up, and I got out the table of blood reports I had drawn up, and flipped through them to double check what I was seeing, and you know what? After 5 and a half hours of research today (I am not counting the zillions I have done till now) and 1 year and 10 months, I am 90% sure that I have discovered what killed him. The infection no-one could identify.

I have double checked and triple checked all the markers against the case studies discussed. They are almost identical. It all makes sense. For the first time. I zapped over the road to check some things with my microbiologist friend, and she agrees with me. And I have the email addresses of 2 leading experts in the field. I will be emailing them.

The coroner said that either the doctors were too stupid to find out what the infection was, or that it didn't exist. It did exist. I have found it. Every single one of the tests they ran lasted 5 days. The blood cultures for this infection take a minimum of 7 days to incubate. And it is there in the tests results, but they wrote it off as a contaminatory factor. It wasn't. It was the infection.

So maybe that doctor was meant to cancel today. Maybe I was meant to find out myself. Maybe this is all meant to be just as it is right now. All I know is that if I do get to meet the consultant, I will be able to tell him what I have found out. Maybe things will change at the hospitals. Who knows. Maybe they will have to alter the way they conduct tests and broaden their testing methods.

And maybe someone's life will be saved. Who knows.

Maybe that is precisely why I have not been able to let it go.

Cancelled plans

Right now, I should be in Oxford, meeting with the surgeon who operated on Geoff. But just as I was leaving work to go to my appointment, I had a call to say it had been cancelled. He is running late. So the meeting will have to wait till he is not running late. Will it ever happen??? I have my doubts. I have been waiting for this meeting, might I add, since the Inquest last October. See? I can be patient.

The hospital people have called frequently all week, to ask for my agenda, a list of who I will be bringing, and all the rest. What?? I am taking no-one. Just me. I have no agenda, hidden or otherwise. I think they were a little disconcerted when I said...Look, all I want to do is to sit and chat for what might be 20 mins, or 2 hours. I don't know. I don't care if it is in the car park on the stairs. Or in the coffee shop. Or in an auditorium filled to capacity. That doesn't bother me. All I want to say is...I don't understand this. Can you please make it make sense? Explain it to me? I don't want politically correct speeches. I don't want measured or prepared words. I don't want official anything. I just want to talk to the man who could have some answers. Have a conversation. And that is probably why he is running late. I don't fit into any little box.

It is not going to happen. And I will never know, probably. Not in this life time.

So I came home. I had arranged to be in school to take my first 2 lessons today, and I get paid for a half day. So I decided to just come home anyway. I did point out to the hospital that I don't get paid when I take personal time, and this seems to be a strange concept for them to grasp. When I suggested they reschedule for the halfterm holidays, they said that a lot of their doctors take time off then to be with their families. Hmmmm.

This is not a cataclysmic event. Most people would have walked away long ago. I know a good many of my friends think I should do just that. Maybe they are right. But then, they are not me. I just need to understand.

I looked through the mountains of notes I had made for the Inquest briefly this morning. And thought, no I don't need these. Not now. They are impressive, but I know what I want to ask. It is simple really. Maybe too simple for hardened professionals to understand. The surgeon is in the business of saving lives. I know that, and I am the last person to want to take time from that, but he only operates 2 days a week. Funny that they should arrange a meeting on an operating day.

You know what my daily reading was this morning? It came from Proverbs 16. "God cares about honesty in the workplace. Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds. Sound leadership has a moral foundation. Good leaders cultivate honest speech. They love advisors who tell the truth. "

Now, while this absolutely applies to my work, it also applies to the man who is a leader in his workplace who I was meant to meet today. He is a professor, and head of his department. I can't make him meet me. Nor would I want to. Maybe God has some other plan. I will have to wait and see. He has been known to surprise me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Building dreams....

Two of my friends have builders working on their homes at the moment. I love plans and houses and seeing things come to life. One is having an addition built, containing a new kitchen and a bedroom and shower and extended conservatory, and the other is remodelling a house, moving stairs, building new bathrooms, and completely redoing the kitchen, not to mention the master bedroom.

Both are living in chaos, and I suppose that comes with the territory. I remember my own chaos very well. It was nightmare time.

When Mum and Dad arrived, and we found out that they would have to stay, because Dad was too ill to travel, we considered moving, but were advised that that would be worse for Dad, so we planned the changes to this house. It was supposed to happen in an orderly fashion. My garage was full of stuff, and as it was going to be converted into a bedroom, we intended the new kitchen/family room extension to be built first, so we could move all our stuff in there while the garage became the bedroom. Unfortunately, one of my neighbours had an exceedingly odd boyfriend, who caused untold chaos, raised endless objections, and generally made life very difficult. So the builders started on the garage.

Just perfect.

That meant that everything had to be moved into the house. Specifically the lounge. The small lounge. It looked like a warehouse. Mum could sit on one chair and see the tv. I could sit on the couch and see the tv. But between us was a mountain of boxes and furniture stacked up to the ceiling. There were 2 small paths to the chairs, and that was it. We could not see each other. You have no idea how chaotic it was. I must find the photos.

In addition, my daughter was writing her A levels, and with all the bedrooms occupied upstairs by Mum and my children, I was sleeping on the floor in the lounge, in one of those 2 small paths between the stacks of furniture. Geoff, very sensibly, was off in the Far East with his ship at the time. I have absolutely no idea how we managed to cope. But we did. And in the end it was so worth it.

My friends are at that chaotic stage. The frustration of having no room organised, things piled all over the place, never being able to find anything really gets to you some times, even though you know it will be wonderful in the end. One of them has had builders on site since February and I have to say, I would have been a lot less understanding of the lack of speed had I been the one paying the bills. I sense tempers starting to fray a little. Totally understandably.

The other friend, has only had builders there for 3 weeks and is still bouncing with excitement each day at the new developments. One has endless problems with things going wrong, and the other seems to be going smoothly. Two very different people. Two very different experiences.

One of my greatest dreams is to one day build my own house. I know just what it will be like. Not a mansion by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, very simple. Very eco-friendly and sustainable. I have drawn up the plans. I want to have a home filled with light and warmth, designed just for my needs and my family. I don't know what it is about having this need to design my own home. I know my father felt the same way. He designed and owner built the 2 homes my parents had. He knew how to do it, and why he needed to design something for his own family. Almost like the little house on the prairie. A home that suited the family living in it. I am a lot like my father in that way.

The home of my dreams also has the infrastructure to be self sufficient energy-wise as well. Ironically, it has had for all those years I have been planning it. And now, those ideas sound even more reasonable and sensible, given the soaring costs of energy. Not to mention everything else.

So I walk around the building sites of my friends' homes, and I look and learn and check out options, and I dream. And I bounce with excitement right along with them. I love helping them with suggestions when they ask for them, and sometimes I think of things they haven't, because my mind works like that. I have said before, that I am very good at visualising things, that I can see the 3D home, when I look at plans. I own books of plans. I just love them.

I may never get to build that dream, I know. And my whole life is most certainly not wrapped up in it. It is a dream. Not an obsession, and dreams are always good. But when I crawl over building sites, the dream comes closer for a while. I can share in the excitement my friends feel. It is a wonderfully warm feeling.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It feels like summer!

Wow. What a hot weekend that was. Weather, I mean. And today was more of the same, and tomorrow? Yes. More warm weather. I do hope this is not our summer. It has been known to happen!

Yesterday was stunning. In fact, it was 31C at lunch time. I know this, because we were at our monthly shared lunch and everyone walked in with the same temperature reading in their cars, as they arrived. The babes spent most of the time in the large paddling pool, and they would have been joined by all the adults if there had been enough room. Me included. Hot!

So I spent most of the rest of the day in a heap snoozing. As one does.

Today was back to work. The good news is that we break up for a week next Friday. I had forgotten how soon it was! I came home to the sound of the power washer. David gets back from school early on Mondays, and there he was on the patio, doing the cleaning. Well, he did write his initials on the slabs with the washer. I informed him that while I was very grateful he was doing the work, he could get rid of them tomorrow. Actually, he was hot, so I think it was more like a 19 year old's version of playing with water. I never did find out how all the windows managed to get wet.

Right. I am off to get coffee and find my book. I am still waking at 5 and as I only ever get to bed after midnight, this could have something to do with my constant need to snooze. I don't seem to be able to have a conversation without yawning!

I will be back.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I love England in the spring....

I love weekends. I love weekends when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and I am pottering about in my garden barefoot even more.

For some bizarre reason, I have woken up for the past 2 days at 5am, and then been unable to go back to sleep. On the weekend. Ridiculous. So yesterday, I decided to go and do the food shop early. And then I went to the garden centre to get my plants, and discovered that they do not open until 9. So I spent a useful three quarters of an hour twiddling my thumbs in the car park. But my plants and I were soon whizzing back through the valley, avoiding all the walkers on a Big Walk around the local countryside. This is an annual event, and lasts all weekend, and it does make driving a little more challenging because there are no pavements (sidewalks) on some of the roads. But the sun was shining and the birds were singing, and I had plants and food so that was good. I also managed to avoid mowing down any walkers.

I love having all the doors and windows wide open in the summer months, and the whole house seems to sigh with satisfaction as the warmth seeps into it, with the scent of freshly cut grass and my lilac in the air. This year I bought geraniums, fuschias, million bells and petunias, and some Cape daisies. I have planted all my hanging baskets and tubs, and have repotted some plants, and I have prepared the pots for the tomatoes which are shooting up in my kitchen as I speak. And peppers. And outside I have trays of beans and cauliflower on their way too. I also planted beans in the pots which have trellises (that looks a little odd!) so they can grow here in the garden as well as on the allotment. Everything is growing and shooting up and soon there will be buds on the roses and they will start blooming.

My washing dried in minutes outdoors, and then I decided to have a BBQ in the evening. A couple of my friends came round, I cooked our feast, and we sat out in the garden chatting all evening. As it got a little cooler, the chiminea was lit, and the candles in the garden as well, and it was just great. This is my favourite time of the year here. Summer can get very hot and humid, and that is not pleasant. I don't mind heat, but I do mind humid. I am not fond of having my clothing bond to my body in a highly unattractive fashion.

There is a dove cote close by, and for some reason (probably my neighbour's constant feeding of the birds - and pesky squirrels) they seem to have attached themselves to my roof. Then the pigeons, which as far as I am concerned could be bald headed eagles they are so huge, the sparrows, robins, blackbirds and other sundry small, medium and large birds of different hues all sit around my garden and sing. Sing? Last night there were times when we had to shout to be heard. They are loud. And when they do their flypast, the wind they create can blow out candles. Wildlife. In my garden.

Sigh. It was a perfect evening, after a lovely day.

And here I am in the early hours of another beautiful Sunday. The sky is blue, there is no wind, and my feet are bare and we have enough food left over from the BBQ to last us a week. What is it about me? The moment I light the coals, I feel the need to cook for the 40 000. Even if there are just 4 for supper. Like last night.

I love England in the springtime. And re-reading this post, the word which leaps out at me is "love". Spring. Sun. Warmth. Garden. Creativity. Friends. Family. Food. Fun.

It was a happy day.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Reporting (and a note for Lori)

Note for Lori: Hi there.... I have a problem getting to your blog at the moment. It crashes my internet every time I click on it. An error comes up listing what my son tells me is a photo. Is anyone else having this problem? I am using Internet Explorer to read things. It is driving me crackers!

Well, now that I am back at work, I am noticing for myself, what must be very evident to everyone else. On the planet.

When I am home and not at work, my world is full of things which amuse me. My mood is lighter and my energy levels are higher. I smile more, am more relaxed , more creative, and I am happy. Back at work for 3 days and the complete opposite is true. I came home yesterday and was as listless as a dishcloth. Then I fell asleep on the couch at a ridiculously early hour, and slept through CSI yet again. Today was the same. I got home, and went and sat in the garden, and so help me, did not have the energy to do anything. And it was early. And it was also a beautiful hot and sunny day.

I have tried jet-propelling myself into action, but the spark is absent. And the rockets don't burst into action without that spark. They don't call things spark-plugs for nothing, you know. If they don't spark, you go nowhere. Even highly caffeinated coffee is not doing the trick. Believe me, I have tried. And ironically, it is not as though life has been appalling for the past 2 days. On the contrary, work has been relatively quiet.

It just does something to my spirit.

Exam season is upon us, and my son starts his finals next week. I sincerely hope this is the end of the exams I will have to live through. Once they go off to uni, the reality of exam stress becomes more distant. One way or another, this marks the 24th year I have lived through exams with my children. Not to mention the 14 of my own. 24+14=38. 38 years of exams!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am also writing reports. Now, I don't know about you, but I am very happy to get a single sheet of paper with a list of subjects, the class average mark for each, and my child's mark, with a comment which can be one word. Preferably. Like: Good. Outstanding. Bone idle. Could do better. Fair. Tries hard. You get the picture. My ideal report would be the unvarnished truth. If my child is a diabolical pupil, I want to know. If they are getting fullmarks, please DO NOT TELL ME HOW THEY CAN IMPROVE. It is enough to kill the spirit. I thought unconditional praise was good. Not on reports it isn't.

In my ideal report, the class tutor would write one line in conclusion, like: "Johnny always tries hard, and is a pleasure to teach." Or: "We need to have a chat as soon as possible about Johnny's lack of progress."

Simple, accurate and to the point. Now? Hahahahahahahaha. Modern education practice dictates that 21st Century teachers have to compose essays. We have to write 6 separate lines for each subject. For each child. 3 on achievement and 3 on targets. And they all have to be positive. Never negative. As a parent, I would lose the will to live. Or be deluded into thinking that my child was perfect when in reality he or she was a living scholastic nightmare. I do not want a book to read. Remember that some children do about 14 subjects. I know my child. One word would do. As long as it was the truth. The achievement comments must say what the child "can" do. If they wanted to. Maybe. Perhaps. If they turned up in class. If they ever bothered to do anything. If the moon was covered in green and yellow stripes.

I am becoming very good at writing "can" comments. Variations of them dance in front of my eyes when I try to go to sleep. But as I write them all, I have to wonder what is happening to education in the real sense. Targets are all very well, but children need to learn how to love learning, and that does not seem to fit into the programme anywhere.

Anyway. Enough of that.

Tomorrow is Friday and that means the weekend is almost here. Jeana is back in the States, and Morning Glory has arrived in the UK. Maybe they passed each other in the air. Janine arrives this weekend too. Such excitement! The sun continues to shine and we are having the most beautiful weather. Just glorious. I do believe I may start on my planting this weekend. Then it will really feel as though summer is on the way.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Sometimes we say things without thinking about how they may sound to other people.

I had one of those Eureka moments in church last week, and promptly nearly had a meltdown. A lovely man was doing the prayers and he ended off by saying something along the lines of " and we remember those who are grieving, who have been widowed, or who are alone, and we ask that they know your peace." And my eyes flew open and I looked at him, as he walked back to the pew, sat down next to his wife, and probably went home and sat down at the dinner table with his children around him, and I do.not.have.a.clue. Not one single clue of what you are saying.

Words. Words are easy. They can be so well-intentioned and yet have the power to distance people and you may never begin to realise. Now, before you think I am being judgemental, let me say that I am not. The man I mention could have been me too. But in that single moment, it mattered to me. I must have done the same thing a million times. Not actually considered the words I was saying. And they will have mattered to someone.

The rage that welled up in me was not directed at the man. It was directed at the platitudes which we use simply because they are a part of our grasp of the language we speak. In my case, that happens to be English.

He didn't know. He could not have known. He hasn't been alone, or lost a partner. And he has no idea. Not his fault. In fact, he is enormously blessed. And I genuinely delight in his blessings, and hope he remains blessed forever. I really do.

You can't walk in my shoes any more than I can walk in yours. Here is another example...." I have been thinking about you so much." Said when you bump into someone in the street. How nice. Did it not occur to you to call or visit while you were thinking? "I have been wondering how you are getting on" - Why couldn't you ask? "I haven't seen you for ages...I wondered where you had got to." "I hope life is treating you well."

I do it too. I don't ask. I don't call. I don't visit. Why???? I am too tired. Too focussed on my own problems. Too much to do. Too busy. Busy doing the wrong things. I don't think. I need to do some serious work on myself.

I am in a strange place. I can see both sides, and I am both. I am hurt by the very things which I, in turn, do. This is exactly why everything we experience is designed to be used to help someone who finds themself in similar circumstances.

If only you knew. But I am so glad you don't.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mothers - mine in particular!

Today would have been my parent's 58th wedding anniversary. And because my Dad died 8 years ago, and because Mother's Day is coming up I thought I would write about my Mum.

Let me introduce you to Joy, aka Granny, Mum, Ommielove.

How do you describe the woman who has always been there? Mum is gentle, sweet, kind, and happiest when she is with her family. She is shy and self-deprecating, and the world's worst worrier. Marge and I have had frequent words about the worrying, believe me. You name it, and she will worry about it. Or anyone. If she meets you, you go on the worry list. But in her case, it means on the "I care" list. She is intersted in everything, and everyone. She has a memory like an elephant which totally puts mine to shame. I mean, for heaven's sake, she is the one who reminds me of my friends' birthdays etc. And she is a total whizz at Countdown and crossword puzzles. Her fount of knowledge is astounding.

Not unusual when I tell you that she went to university when she was 17 and has not only a BA in English, but also a Master's degree as well. Jane Austen I think. I have her dissertation on my bookshelf behind me. Super bright. Super intelligent. And a master crafter to boot. She and her best friend Auntie Myra were a force to be reckoned with when we were growing up. They masterminded and totally stocked annual fetes at our church themselves. They made everything. EVERYTHING.

They formed the Busy Bees, a group of women from church, and they catered for all events, like weddings, teas and church celebrations. There was always something to be created. My Dad's study became the sewing room, covered with threads. The cupboards were full of oven gloves, aprons, fabric and sewing paraphenalia.

Mum was never taught to sew by any teacher, and Granny certainly did no sewing at all, that I can recall. She just learnt as she went along, and somehow, Marge and I have inherited her love of making things. Somethings not quite as well. I think I have mentioned the booties I started knitting for Andrew when I was pregnant. Hah. Mum said, what a good idea, I will knit some too. And I had half finished an inch of one bootie, and she had made an entire layette, of matinee jackets, booties etc. I tossed my needles over the couch and vowed never to knit again. She is good. Very good.

I may have mentioned that she crochets blankets. This house is drowning under the heap she has created. She cannot sit and do nothing, so we will never ever in any ice age, be cold. We give them away to anyone who wants them, and she is happy.

Mum was born in Cape Town to British parents. She was the second of 3 children. My uncle, Geoffrey, died when he was 18 months old, and Mum was born a year or so after he died. She had a younger brother, who we called Unkie, who died when he was just 55. Good grief, not much older than I am now. He never married.

She met my Dad at university, and she fell in love. So did he, and they were married when she was 24, because my grandfather said they could only get married when my Dad earned a certain amount of money which sounds unbelievable today. I think it was about £48 a month.

Mum was absolutely beautiful. And today she still never colours her hair. Marge and I have way more grey hair than she does, by the way. It is a source of much irritation. She laughs. She and Dad were at the Queen's 21st birthday ball in South Africa.

They built their first home, to their own design, and that was where I spent the first 6 years of my life. Dad was a civil engineer, and Mum stayed home with us. She had worked for a few years as a legal secretary after she graduated, and she really loved her job, but once she was married, in those days, you stayed home.

That would be me with Mum in Granny's garden. See? I kept her amused.

And then Marge arrived. And I look particularly fetching with the bow in the hair.

We moved to the second home they built when I was about 6, and that was where they would still be, had Dad not got so ill. Our home in Claremont was the centre of so much of our lives. People dropped in at all times. It was a place everyone knew they would be welcome. Dad had a pool built after we had been on our European adventure, because he hated driving to the beach every weekend in summer in queues of traffic, and so the house was always full of our friends coming to swim and play. Christmas nights were legendary. No-one was ever actually invited, but a feast for about 30 people was always prepared. By Mum. And come they did. Sometimes more than 40. Laughter, singing, playing about, games, fun. The perfect way to grow up. My wedding reception was in the garden at home too.

Dad worked long hours, and as a workaholic, he also brought work home with him, so a lot of the time it was us, the 3 girls together. Mum had a miscarriage after Marge was born, and as she said, they just didn't have the heart to try again, after that. So the 3 girls it was.

Once Marge and I had grown up, she and Dad did a lot of travelling - all over the place. When she was small, Mum travelled a great deal with her parents, so she has always loved visiting new places and seeing the world. She has even flown on Concorde!

When Andrew was born, Mum was there to help. Geoff was in Norway and only came home when Andrew was 6 weeks old, so having Mum to help possibly saved my sanity with a colicky baby. We will not recap on the Linds has a sewing machine and sewed everything backwards bit here. I will remind you that Mum howled with laughter. I seem to recall her being unable to speak at the time. Or breathe. I remember when she took Andrew out for a walk in the pram. And because I was the only person in the world capable of looking after my son, instead of resting, as she intended, I followed her round the block, hiding behind trees. To make sure she knew how to cross roads with the pram. With my son in it. I mean, she had just been a parent for 22 years, for heaven's sake. She coped admirably. It is a wonder I wasn't arrested.

She is the world's best Granny, and she has been a major part of my children's lives. She has crawled around the floor with each of them, playing games. She spoils them rotten, but that is what Grannies do. Always there. Always willing to help. Always a part of our lives. And now the babes too, love climbing all over her when they visit. She has a great deal of patience with little ones.
Mum and Dad at Marge's wedding party at home. They got married in Switzerland and then came to Cape Town to celebrate.

In Switzerland for Andrew and Ann's wedding.
And on her 80th birthday, my brother-in-law, Peter, took her for a whizz around the village on his trike. How many 80 year olds do you know who put on leathers and go off on trikes???? Plenty of life in my Mum! She is amazing. We love her to bits, and so does everyone she meets. She is Granny to all.

So there you have it. My Mum. She should start her own blog. She has many stories to tell!

Monday, May 05, 2008

BHM Part 2

This is coming to you from the floor, where I am lying. To ease the aching muscles. Because I am pig-headed and ignore my own advice. I sewed up a quilt for a friend today, and she paid me some money which I spent on paint. And then, in a fit of total insanity, I painted the small shed. Then the bench thing. Then the big shed. Then the fence. Then I could not move.
They will need a second coat but that can wait. Probably till next year.

After levering myself into the car to go and get something cold to drink, as I had also consumed all cold things in the house, I noticed a gaping hole around the drain pipe from the sink. Which might be an open portal for any passing rodent. So I got out the foam filler stuff and filled that gap. It now looks like it is growing. In fact it looks like a flower. I may paint the pipe green. I have green paint, after all.

And then I repotted all the tomato plants and got the pots ready for the beans, which I appear to have lost. Oh, and I planted some seeds in the garden. And now I am ready for bed. It is 5.49pm.

I need a holiday.

Bank holiday Monday

I am a delicate flower. Stop laughing. I am full of good intentions.

After church yesterday morning, I sauntered out into the garden, and started cleaning one chair. ONE chair. One hour later, and I stopped. I contemplated calling a chiropractor. I was scrubbing away with vigour, and I started doing some calculations in my head.....if I were to hire someone to clean this chair, I would have to pay them the going rate. Times how long it would take to get the chairs clean. Minus total from cost of new chair. Times 4. And at that point, my arm (and my brain) decided enough was enough, and I wiped the sweat from the end of my nose, and retreated to the couch with a cooldrink.

I was chatting to my mother, and she said...but what happened to the cushions for the chairs? And I reminded her that the chairs were almost antique and I had no intention of sitting on antique cushions. And besides, the rodent population ate most of them 10 years ago. And then I abandoned all and went out for coffee with a friend.

However, in the cold light of a new day, I have decided that I could just see if I can get new cushions. To hide the marks. But then, they may cost as much as the new chairs...... Ignore me. I did pick up the sponge thing this morning and every muscle in my body yelled NO! See? I am a delicate flower. Hahahahahahahaha.

Anyway, I think the painting can wait. I may actually go and get the paint and then I can look at it in a productive fashion, but as I would be using the same arm to wield the paintbrush, I rather suspect I would be doing my crone impression if I painted anything more than my nails today.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Spring cleaning the garden

The apple tree is full of blossom!

Please note old white furniture. Built to last. And last. And last. But I have started scrubbing with Astonish, and so help me, it is working. You will get before and after photos. One day. It is HARD work! And I have yet to master the power washer to clean all the paving. But I will. Or else will get out the scrubbing brush. But let me just tell you that the patio was covered with a most unattractive assortment or leaves, twigs, branches etc. And now it is not. All the rubbish is in that brown bin. I have to paint the sheds and the bench, and the fence...... Maybe on Monday. If I get some paint.

And the lilac is in bloom. It has the most amazing scent and the air outside is full of it. Beautiful.

Just a "quiet" Saturday.......

There is a downside to buying "quality", people.

Take it from me. Oh yes there is. I still have the towels my mother bought me when I got married. They were attractive shades of yellow, olive green and tan. All the rage back in 1976, I can assure you. They are Martex towels. From America. And even though they are 32 years old, and in desperation, I cleaned the insiode of the car engine with them, so help me, they still wash and dry perfectly and there is nothing wrong with them. Except they are now a little thinner, and consequently dry so much better than new towels. They have been used for the dogs over the years in a vain attempt to wear them out too. Anything gross? My towels rush forward to do the deed. And the wash and come up beautifully.

However. I HATE those towels. I want new and beautiful ones. I am sick to death of them. But my parsimonious nature means they stay in the cupboard. Sigh. Quality? It has drawbacks.

This is a very long-winded way to report that I have just spent the morning in the garden. Getting rid of weeds in the patio, dead stuff, old twigs and leaves and branches etc. And then I cleaned the garden furniture. Quality. I bought Allibert (French white patio furniture) back in 1985, because it wouldn't collapse after 2 years. Now I wish it would collapse. I hate it with a passion. And while there is nothing structurally wrong with it, it has patchy dark bits all over and looks dire. But it doesn't fall apart, because it is QUALITY. Snarl. It has been out facing the elements all year round, and it survived. My displeasure has nothing at all to do with the fact that I spied a beautiful garden table and armchairs at Homebase this morning. It would be so perfect for my garden. It is made for my patio. I need it. It is calling me......

But quality rules here. And until things die, they have to do. That is why I love Ikea. When I was younger, everything you bought was designed to last a lifetime. My parents only ever had 2 lounge suites, which they had recovered when the Sanderson linen expired. So ringing the changes was a trifle more difficult back then. I love the fact that nowadays, it is actually possible to change your furniture more than once a lifetime. I also spotted a beautiful leather couch at Homebase. On sale. Buy one, get one free. I don't need one. But it was beautiful. And a bargain! And no, of course I didn't buy one.

If you could have been a fly on the wall, you would have howled with laughter, people. Jean needed to go and get the tiles for her new kitchen floor, and asked me to go with her, so that is why we were at Homebase at the crack of dawn. We got a friendly man to assist with loading the 23 boxes of floor tiles on to 2 trolley things, and he also helped load them into her car. Yes. That was when we noticed a slight problem. I looked at the rear tyres. They were flat.

The tiles weighed a ton. So we looked at each other, and she said...Right. We will go very slowly along the dual carriage way to the nearest garage. I looked at her, and rolled my eyes , and said...Or not. Let's call Simon. (He has a tyre pumping up thing for cars), so we did, remembering that of course he loves getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to rescue his friends, and that it is actually Jackie's birthday today. He said they were on their way to help. He is a star.
They arrived with the babes, who decided the carpark was a playground, and he inflated the tyres while we had a resounding chorus of Happy Birthday to you to entertain the masses.

Jean said all she could see out of the rear view mirror, while driving home, was the road, the back was so low. I watched as she drove off after dropping me and I swear the front wheels were doing wheelies. Without me for ballast!

Ah well. It made us laugh. And I am doing the dreaming thing, by coming home with brochures of unlikely things to peruse. The sun is shining, and once I have uncreaked myself, we are off to have tea with the birthday girl. And cake. And scones. And don't garden is tidy!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Long weekend!

Well, enough of all those miserable posts. I am depressing myself. It is Friday evening, and it is a long weekend, and I have the house to myself tonight and I am not going to snooze and waste the time. The washing machine is whirring, because I have no intention of working all weekend. I want stuff done now!

The week is over. I can't change any of it, or redo bits. It is all in the past and it is gone. Good. You know what? I am still here and I survived all 7 days of it. Yes. I did indeed.

Tonight would have been the Get a Life Night again, but Louise had the gall to go OUT! Sniff. This is clearly taking getting a life a little too far. She is not supposed to do it without us. Well, it is her brother's birthday, so I suppose it is a valid excuse. We will resume getting lives next week instead. And because I do not have to be presentable enough to fetch a carload of young people later, I can slob around. And do the washing.

The local election results are dire if you happen to be a Labour party supporter here. It amuses me that they seem surprised by the results. I could have told them what normal ordinary people are thinking. The ones who are taxed to death and expected to put up with it. The rage of the nation. My kids' generation is looking further afield nowadays. They are looking for quality of life, and they are not finding it here. They are all highly qualified professionals with marketable skills, and the world remains their oyster. And they will go. To the 4 corners of the earth.

And now for something completley different. How many of you have laptops? How many of you have PCs and how many have Macs? Why do you use the ones you have? Tell me why I should have a PC or a Mac. I am intrigued by the differences and want to know why you like yours. I have a laptop for work. It is as heavy as lead, and is driving me insane. Not to mention ruining my chest muscles. One day. One day I will get a laptop. In the dim and distant future, and it will be for ME. I would love to be able to curl up anywhere and use a laptop, and not queue to use the desk top one we have. So tell me all, please.

Also, how many of you are now using digital SLR cameras? I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the limitations of the pocket digital cameras, and would love one with a mega zoom thingy. See? I am so techno savvy.

This is all about dream time, and I am determined to indulge in dreams this weekend. Dreams are good. And I will also have to start cleaning the house and garden furniture too. And plant stuff, and power-wash the patio, and SEW! I can SEW!!

The excitement levels are rising. Maybe I should clean the house tonight. It is work stuff, really, isn't it?

I am off to find the mop.