Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guess what???

I have been very restrained.

I have waited for my daughter-in-law to break her news.

I am not usually restrained.

Not really.

What? You hadn't noticed????

This morning, I had a call from my son to tell me that their baby, which is due in February next year - my very first grandchild - is a GIRL!! I see pink in my future! Girly things, dresses, curls, dolls, ballet......

All right you lot, you can shut up now. I have a daughter, you know. A lovely one too. A beautiful young woman. Perfect, in fact. She had the curls and the pink things, and did ballet too, but forget the dresses and dolls. She was, and still is, unique. My adventurer. She wanted to climb trees. She howled every time I put her in a pretty dress, screeched that she wanted to wear "teeters and torts" like her big brother, and the only time I ever got her into a dress, I lied. I told her it was a long sweatshirt. And she totally bought it. But she did love pink. I distinctly remember the pink party we had one year.......

It will be fun to go and look at all the new little girly things for my granddaughter, and who knows, she may even like wearing dresses! Especially when she is too young to have an opinion. I know better now. Dresses when they are very, very small. Once the opinions take shape, I rather suspect she may have acquired a great deal of her father's stubbornness, which appears to be a family trait, and will have a mind of her own. I can't think where they get it from.....

Her father has already announced that she is grounded until she is 26. I think we can interpret that as "he has not got a clue how well his little girl has already wrapped her Daddy around her little finger, has he???" And she has not even been born yet!

So there is my news for the day - plenty to smile about - my little granddaughter is due to arrive at the start of February. And even if she does prefer climbing trees to dolls, teeters and torts to dresses, and karate to ballet, this Granny will love her to bits. Not to mention all the other members of our 2 families who are bouncing off the walls with excitement as I speak. Just like me.

Alphabet Soup - the letter C

Here we are - it is Tuesday again and today is the letter C in Morning Glory's Alphabet soup. Just click on the button to go to her blog, and leave her a note if you are joining in! Remember to list things which bring you joy and pleasure......

  • The smell of cinnamon cake wafting through my home. This is a real family favourite.

  • My car - which gets me from A to B with rarely a problem. It goes.

  • Cards from friends and family - and the ones I like to make.

  • The countryside - with all the changes of the seasons out there for us to see. And here in the UK, the right to roam through it too.

  • Cameras - for obvious reasons! I have given mine to David, so my photos will be rather sparse for now. Capturing the moment is such fun!

  • Seeing the cows in Switzerland, with their cowbells and garlands of flowers going up and down the mountains.

  • Chocolate! Especially Swiss chocolates....

  • Choirs - singing in our local music society when I can, gives me a great deal of joy.

  • Candles - I love the flickering light and a subtle scent.

  • Coffee - need I say more?

  • Carols - singing them in the Square on Christmas Eve.

  • And my CHILDREN, of course. Most important. They give meaning to my life, and I love them dearly.

There are lots of Cs to list and I could go on and on here......

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mutter and mumble...

It is supposed to reach 17 degrees C here today. I feel this may be a trifle optimistic at the moment. It is cold! I am not sleeping much at night - and I have run out of things to read. You get the general mood.

Tomorrow I go to see my GP, and hopefully we can discuss what has happened so far, what will happen next and what the heck is happening inside my knee, but, I do not hold out great hopes for anything illuminating. The arthroscopy was basically to see what was going on, and to clean out anything evident not needing much effort. And because I have not seen hide or hair of the consultant since 2 August 2008, I have no idea what he thinks. And i still have no treatment plan.

And yes, it is ridiculous. I have the distinct disadvantage here of having grown up in a place where, if you are injured, you immediately see a specialist, who immediately orders tests, oversees all immediate treatment him/ or herself, and you are fixed. You deal with one person who sees you regularly and alters or amends your treatment plan as it is needed. I understand that the NHS works differently, but that doesn't mean I forget how things SHOULD work in a First World country.

So you may say I am a trifle frustrated. I come so close to wanting to just say oh forget it, and then I remember that I will want to crawl around on the floor with my grandchildren. I will want to walk in the Alps. I will want to keep driving. I will want to be as flexible and mobile as I was 4 months ago. I need my knee to work.

I do believe that this is a blue Monday. Well. It is right this moment. I am not a ray of sunshine right now.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On a serious note.....

The world is in a mess. This will not be news to anyone with half a brain cell, I realise. A mess. Financial mismanagement, greed, speculation, bad economic policies and banks which have failed due to all the above and more, and here we are, wondering what tomorrow will bring.

During the night, another bank here was nationalised. The second one so far. Others have merged to save themselves over recent weeks. America's government is wrestling with decisions which fly in the face of their constitution as I speak, and the world's stock markets will either plummet when they open for Monday's trading later on today (the Asian Markets open first), or will level off as a consequence of that decision. For a while.

This is global, people. It may have started in the States, but the ripples have become a global tsunami, sweeping us all up together. Nations all around the world are going into recession, if not depression. The bottom of the housing market has fallen out, and jobs are disappearing. People are losing their homes, and businesses are failing as demand dries up and customers stay home to conserve what little cash they have. Preferrably in a box under the bed at the moment.

I don't talk often here about things like politics and economics, but I read a great deal, and watch and listen, and I think. I have a very keen interest in what is happening around the globe. I have a brain which works very well. Conversation amongst my friends is different, as I am sure it may be with you too. This is the hot topic of the moment. We talk and speculate on cycles in history and what has happened before, and the potential for things to get very much worse in the coming days, months and even years. We discuss the possibility in the future of combining assets and homes to survive. We discuss cost-cutting measures, and share ideas. Every single one of us is working on down-sizing and simplifying our lives.

I have been aware for a good few years that our global economy has been like a runaway train and that the track was running out. Maybe this is where age and experience has a lot to offer. Who was it who said that everyone has a right to own their own home? Most Europeans do not own a home at all. They rent. Who said everyone had a right to more? To whatever their hearts desired? Who started this credit debacle?

When we bought our home, you had to have a minimum of a 10% deposit. Then, in more recent years, people started buying homes with 100% mortgages. Because they "had a right to own their own home". What? That is seriously crazy. Once upon a time, the maximum mortgage you could get was 3 times your gross annual salary. Then it went up to five times your gross annual salary. Again, crazy. Unsustainable. If you buy a home with 100% mortgage and the housing prices fall...... anyone can do the maths.

When I got married, you had second hand furniture, made do with things, and worked to get new carpets, kitchens etc. I am still waiting to get a decent new bathroom, 18 years after moving into this house. You bought things like sofas which you expected to last 20 odd years. Or more. You went to auctions. Now, things have a built in obsolesence, so they fall apart after 7 years. To stimulate markets. Why???

And then came credit. The credit card. Ironically, I still get letters inviting me to take out new credit cards weekly. It used to be daily. Why wait? Buy it now! You can get it! You all know what I am talking about, because every one of us has had them. The news is that new is not better. New is not always wise, and new can be seriously dangerous to your financial well-being. Perfection is something we will never attain, and making do is what we had better get used to, and fast. A perfect home? What is that? All shiny and new? Oh no. People, not things.

Once upon a time, your bank manager knew you. He was in the same branch for his entire working life. He knew all his customers, and their families, and he made decisions based on that knowledge, not on a series of computerised calculations. He advised and he was generally working in your best interests as well as the bank's. Remember those days?

Now, bank employees have targets to meet. They have to sell you stuff, which costs you dearly, and raises their individual salaries. Banking no longer even pretends to be a service, which it used to be, but a money making industry. And if those employees don't bring in the business by selling you stuff you do not want or need, then they lose their jobs. Everything is performance related. Target driven. And all those employees appear to be 12 years old. They don't even know of a world where there was not a credit-driven economy. A simpler world, which I can remember clearly.

Think about it. You deposit your hard-earned money in a bank. They then use it and they charge you for that privilege. Capitalism at work. And I do believe in capitalism, and a free market economy, believe me. But it was what they did with your mortgage and credit debt - selling on and selling on again and again, in the effort to make bigger and bigger profit which was the disaster. Any investor knows that big financial gains come from taking big financial risks. And sometimes you lose, and lose big. BIG.

So we have the catastrophe. And those risk takers may well lose their jobs, and even their golden parachutes too, but they still have their millions paid out in bonuses over the years to cushion their fall from grace. The rest of us are the ones facing the real consequences.

Northern Rock was the first bank to go here, and as far as I, and a great percentage of the population is concerned, the chief exec, as with the chief execs of all those other banks in trouble, should be in jail. Simplistic, but true. The tragic part of all of this is that in reality, if governments were not so focussed on elections and popularity stats, common sense says, let the market correct itself. We would all lose, but the worst would be over, and then we could rebuild, guided by sanity and common sense. Governments around the globe can't afford for that to happen though, through pure self-interest. But history shows quite clearly that, painful though the self correction may be, it is the quickest way to emerge from this crisis.

We have a leadership crisis here in the UK. And an election not that far away. The American election is just weeks away. Whoever becomes President has a formidable job ahead of him. An unenviable job. I wonder if either of the 2 candidates has thought of running away?? People here and there may be tempted to vote in the coming months, guided by fear, instead of reason. This is never a perfect scenario. Informed choice is always better. And to be informed, we cannot be ostriches. We need to know. The good, the bad and the ugly too. Sigh. This is not comfortable. At all.

We have watched trillions being spent on wars, and God knows that money could have been better spent on reducing poverty around the globe, improving healthcare and education, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Climate change. Orphans. Wars. Poverty. Failed crops. Misery. And we have all helped make this happen in one way or another.

We do indeed live in a fallen world.

I am no economist, nor do I hold a string of impressive business degrees. I do, however, have a great deal of common sense, and an awareness of what is happening all around the world. I don't know the answers. I wish I did. All I know is that what is happening is not over by a long way, and it will get a lot more difficult before it gets any better. The temptation will be to focus all our energies on looking after Number One in the days to come. Please make sure you don't forget to focus on your wider communities. No matter how difficult things may get, there will always be others in worse situations. Don't forget them. Be informed.

We all face an uncertain economic future. We may well all end up back in the barter system. Sustainability. Self-sufficiency. Who knows. And I, for one, can see a great deal to smile about that. The circles go around. And my vegetables are growing.

If you made it this far, I am very impressed! There are times when the swirling thoughts have to come out of the head. This was one of them.

Have a good Sunday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I am alive


I am back. I got there at noon, and only had the arthroscopy at 5.15pm, woke up at 7 and came home at 10. Well, home to my friends' place, because you have to have someone with you for 24 hours after the op. It is not 24 hours yet, but hey, I am fine.

I didn't see any doctors. They are mythical beings who flit in and out of the shadows. The sister and I read my notes, and from what we can make out from the diabolocal hand writing, they did the scope and washed it out. There is Grade II, III and some Grade IV damage to the bones. I have no idea what that means. But believe me, it all started with the injury, because my knee has always been perfectly normal, and the other one is fine too.

I have to keep the enormous bandage on for 2 weeks and then go back to the clinic to have it resized. Whatever that means too. And I have no idea what to do when it starts slipping, which it appears to be doing today. Hmmmm. I may ring the sister later.

Anyway. It is done. Whatever done is. And then I was taken to see my MP this morning, who was unsurprised about the speed of the arthroscopy once they knew I was seeing him. But what happens to people who are not seeing Members of Parliament? He is writing to them about the 14 weeks of knee debacle, and they have to respond to him by law, so I should get a response too. We also discussed other things.

And then I came home. I am now going to flop on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Thanks so much for all your prayers and lovely messages. You are wonderful.

PS: Just been back to the fracture clinic to have the bandage redone. Apparently there is "too much damage to the patella for a tubi-grip" . How nice to know.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday has arrived....

Morning all.

The sun is shining weakly, and I am starving as per instruction. Isn't it weird how most days I can go without food all day at times, and never worry about it, but just say "You may not eat or drink anything after 6am" to me and I become ravenous. Totally. Food is dancing before my eyes as I speak. I may be suffering from coffee withdrawal. I am sure it kicks in very fast. Or something. Hallucinations.

Gee - just think - this is BEFORE I have any anaesthetic! I will be on a roll by tonight. Always supposing the thing actually happens.

Mary , bless her, from Random Thoughts, has given me this award. What a wonderfully sweet thing to do. My children may beg to differ, of course, but I am so touched by it! Thankfully, after I yelled at her, she has agreed not to stop blogging after all. It must be my superior yelling skills acquired over 3 decades of parenting.


Ho hum.

I am being fetched in an hour. I did think of taking my plastic bag knitting project with me. However, that may be a little too pointed, and rather tiresome to explain. Not to mention noisy. I have a book or 2. And some hand quilting. And a pen and paper.

Behave while I am gone. I will be back tomorrow. Or maybe tonight if it doesn't happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday may be the day....

When I was making all those hideous phone calls on Monday, I happened to mention to the hospital people, that I had an appointment with my MP (Member of Parliament) on Friday. Casually. In conversation. Which I DO have, by the way. They had told me at that point, that I would possibly get the appointment for the op in the new year. I was restrained. I said very little. There was no point. They hold the power, and seem to wield it as they see fit.


Yesterday, very early, guess what? I had a call from the hospital. Oh, they said, we know you want to be seen quickly, so we THINK we will be able to squeeze you in for the arthroscopy on Thursday. Which Thursday? January, maybe? No. This Thursday. As in tomorrow. As in the day before I am meeting the MP. Irony? Oh yes.

Is this what it takes?

They have told me though, that is COULD be cancelled. MAY WELL be cancelled. But there is a CHANCE that tomorrow it will be done. And believe me, even if I am trundled in to see the MP in a wheelbarrow, I will be there on Friday morning. Oh yes. With all my paperwork. We have a lot to discuss.

For good measure, I popped in to see my GP today,and told her what was going on. She was unsurprised. She grinned. She is a lovely lady and a wonderful doctor, and her frustration has mirrored mine throughout this nightmare.

I am not holding my breath though. I will go through the no food or drink thing from 6am, and have to be there at noon. If I have it, I will be spending the night with my friends afterwards. If not, I will be here. Of course. We will see.

And now for something completely different.....

A young friend of mine is off to LA on Sunday for a holiday. I know that over the past few months, I have seen everyone writing about great autumn magazines, and can I remember any of them? No. Not one.



If you were to recommend one great magazine for her to buy for me, which would it be? Tell me which American magazines you love and why! Which are your favourites? Which can't you do without? We don't get any American ones here. Sigh. I am deprived. I need to know!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The letter B

Today is the "B" day for Morning Glory's Alphabet soup, where on Tuesdays, we share things which bring joy and pleasure to our lives.

  • So first I am listing babies. Of course I am. I am going to be a Granny, and I can't wait, and babies are such a blessing!

  • Beans. We grow beans at home and on the allotment, and I love fresh beans picked and cooked straight away.

  • Butterflies - always different and beautiful, silently fluttering about my garden. Impossible to catch on camera though.

  • Blogging. For so many reasons, but especially for the wonderful friends I have made since I started. You enrich my life.

  • Books. I can't be without them. I adore reading and having books at hand makes me feel that all is right with my world. Being able to enter different worlds and times simply by turning a page is such a blessing.

  • Blankets. The lovely ones my Mum has crochetted which are all around my house, and the soft fleece one known as the cloud, under which I curl up with a book on the couch. They keep me warm!

  • Biscuits - cookies to you in the States. Chocolate ones, ginger ones. Home-made ones. Perfect with the blanket and book. And coffee.

  • In fact, there are a great many Bs I can think of in the food department - bread, butter, bananas, butternut, broccoli, berries (it is time to go blackberrying here at the moment)

  • Bonfires - Autumn is traditionally when bonfire night happens here - November 5th to be exact. Guy Fawkes. It is such fun to stand around huge bonfires wrapped up warmly, and watch the fireworks going off on crisp cold nights.

  • Balloons. Hot air one, or party ones. They make me smile.

So that is my list. What Bs bring joy and pleasure to your life? Pop on over to Morning Glory's place and leave a link if you join in!

PS..... In my last post I meant life after children AT HOME. After 32 years, I no longer have any at home any more. Believe me, I know they are still there and I love them all dearly. They are just no longer here. And it is right that they are off and flying. I just need to adapt. This is new for me too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The sun and the son....

So the first day of life after children is here. It has been a strange day. I have been on the phone a great part of the time trying to sort out work and other related nightmares. Trying to find out when I may have the op. Trying to sort out stuff. Stuff. Stuff is vastly over-rated.

However. Moving on.

My son appears to be having a good time. The photo above was taken on the way down to the university, as the sun rose at dawn. It seems to be filled with golden promise, and was unbelievably beautiful. Even if it was the M25!
Today is the first official day of Freshers Week, so he will have a lot to do, see and discover. He had a great time with his brother and sister-in-law yesterday, and managed to show some new arrivals where to go and what to do too. He did not, however, manage to discover where breakfast was served. No doubt he fixed that today! He is meeting people and making friends, and hopefully, once the proper term starts next week, he will be off and running.
That is Canterbury Cathedral from the lawns outside his res. Such a lovely view.

There is greenery everywhere. It is a really beautiful campus, and everything he needs is there - just minutes from his res, so he is very fortunate. He started jogging again this morning, and says there are wonderful places to run, so that is also great. It is good. And I am so glad he is happy.

I am paying the price for spending rather longer on my feet than was advisable. So I am having a quiet few days. Maybe tomorrow I will have something interesting to say.

I live in hope.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The last chick has flown the nest...

David is there. His bags are unpacked, his room is sorted and looking like home to him, his photos are up, his grin is wide. His laptop is wonderful, and he was greeted by great kids, there to help carry his gear. Mother hobbled along at the rear.

I failed to win the mother of the year award. I left his passport in the printer, where I was copying it. Oh great. He needed ID to get his student card, but happily, they believed he was who he said he was. So that was ok. I also forgot coathangers, but solved that one too. And apart from the little electric fan he wanted to take and some jackets and his other suit, we remembered most things.


Here I am at Andrew's place. They are out at the moment, so I am posting this quick note. The last chick has flown the nest. My baby is at university. He waved goodbye quite happliy, and walked off and didn't look back.

Where have the years gone?
When did he grow up?

Friday, September 19, 2008


According to my dashboard, this is the 701 post I have written. Not posted mind, written. I appear to have verbal diorrhea. Excluding the first random odd posts I did, I really started blogging regularly in April 2006. Good heavens. I never did know when to stop talking.

And, getting some techy things out of the way, I think I have adjusted or fixed the site feed thingamewhatsit. Let me know if you still have a problem with it. MG told me what she did, so I did it too. Do you people use a special feedburner thingy? If so, why? Which one? How? etc etc etc.... I am such a technical whizz.
Ignore the above. I have killed my site feed and I do not know how to fix it. Can anyone help???Wail!



While I was expounding on age a few days ago, I had a moment of pure illumination. I have spoken before of how my view of life, from the lofty heights of approaching the middle 50s, differs from the view of my younger colleagues. How I have learnt what matters most, and it is absolutely not the climb up the ladder of success in life.

Age brings with it a changed perspective. You get the bigger picture more clearly.

And then I remembered how, when I was 43, with perfect vision, I had my eyes tested, and thought I was brilliant. Perfection. And the optician turned over the stick thing I had balanced on the end of my nose. It had a little sheet of print on it, and you had to move it forward to the place you could no longer focus on the words clearly. It said Age:43. He looked at me and said I will see you in a year or two. That was because the length of the stick/my arm was 10 years. In 10 years, my sight would change that radically.


It happens to all of us in one way or another. Sight alters, unless you never read or do anything requiring a change in focus, and quite frankly, I can't think how you can survive life without at least some close focus.

But I digress yet again.

When we are born, we can't focus our eyes on anything other than the food source. Aka mother. Our vision is simple. As we grow, it grows with us, to encompass people around us, and then the little world we live in. Watch a baby chewing its toes. Or trying to get a spoon in its mouth for the first time. When we are children, we don't see danger or world problems. Our focus is on being a child.

When we are young adults, we are usually single minded, and focussed to a larger extent on ourselves. Making the most of who we are. Discovering who we are. Preparing for a career, a role, a life. Working hard to acquire skills and become someone. Life outside our own world is somewhat blurry. It is head down and full steam ahead and if we are honest, to a very large extent, it is all about us. The "I" is the focus of our lives. In good ways too. This is not saying that being young is bad in any sense. Please don't get me wrong here.

Our vision of life is perfect close up. Our eyes focus on things right in front of our noses. It is what we see best. And we are designed to grow through this part. It is the distance we may have a problem with. Blurry. Shadows.

As mothers, we focus on our families and homes, and the work we do. We see, or try to see dangers, and we see life from a protective perspective, but largely, it encompasses a little area we live in. And if my life was anything to go by, there was a lot of survival mode thrown in too. I battled to see beyond the potty training, or sleepless nights. My vision of life was focussed on how to raise a family without any major disasters. My family.

When we get older - like me - our vision changes. We have raised our children and they have flown away from the nest. They are out there - in the distance. Our worlds are no longer contained within our 4 walls. Our worlds are so much larger. Wider. Broader.

It is like zooming out on google earth (satellite). We see patterns in life. We remember things happening before, and see cycles. We know summer will follow spring, and winter will follow autumn. Little children don't know that. Zoom in too close on google earth, and what happens? Everything goes blurry. Our focus has changed.

We also know that bad things happen, and that we will survive them. That money can't buy you happiness. That success is measured by who you are more than what your salary may be. That people matter. It is the things we have experienced throughout our lives which give us the wisdom I hope we have. That is the bigger picture we can see.

The irony here, though, is that we all have to go through each stage ourselves. I can't change anyone else's vision of life, or focus. I may want to. But I can't. All I, or we, can offer is a different perspective of the situation, seen with older eyes.

And back to the eyes again.......

As we get older, we can no longer see words close up. Books with large type are treasures. I used to complain about my arms shrinking. We can't see to thread a needle. We take off our glasses and can't see our faces close up any more. Make-up becomes more of a challenge. We can't focus on the close up, the "me" part, easily any more. And you know what? The me part doesn't matter so much any more. At all. I once made the mistake of looking at my face in the early morning with my reading glasses on. Do not try it.

What we do have is a clearer vision of the world though. Our distance vision is entering into the perfect phase. The world out there is no longer blurry. We see. We understand. We know.

Is it just possible that the stages of our vision over the span of our lives is not random, but intended? That as we age, our focus changes in our vision, mirroring the changes in our lives? Maybe right now, the close up for me should be blurry. And my eyes should be focussed way ahead.

Right now, I could look down with my reading glasses on, at the piles of debris I am trying to climb over and get bogged down at the enormity of it all, but I can also choose to take off those glasses, and look up and see the blinding light ahead - over the mountains. I can see it clearly. I couldn't see it when I was younger.

Anyway. That is it. I hope it made sense. I need more coffee.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Awards and tags...

I have been given this award by Jeanne of At a Hen's Pace - thank you very much, my friend! And now I have to pass it on to 6 more people. I am the absolute WORST at awards and things, I forget to post them, and even worse still, I forget to pass them on. I am dire, and apologise to everyone who has been gracious enough to give me awards in the past. I am a reformed woman.
So here goes.......

Heidi at Butterfly Mama

Jo at Moodscapes

Mary at Random Thoughts

Judith at Flight Song

Morning Glory at Seeds from my Garden

Susan at Swiss Family Olsen

While there are familiar faces there, I have also added a few new blogs I have found, and absolutely love. Go visit them and see! And for heaven's sake, tell Mary NOT TO STOP BLOGGING. Mary lives in Australia, and Susan in Switzerland. Judith is of course, Barb's Mom, and the others are old blogging friends of mine. Great reads, and lovely ladies, all of them. Pass them on to 6 people if you wish!

This is why I hate passing on awards. I want to give them to everyone. I love you all.

Then, Jeanne also aske me to list 6 weird or odd things about me. My children or sister, or friends, or mother could probably come up with a whole book of odd things to write about. Hmmmm.
  1. I go barefoot as much as possible, and in summer, would hardly ever wear shoes if I didn't have to.
  2. I have to read in the bath every night. This is why my library of books is "interesting". Clean, but interesting in shape.
  3. I am knitting chopped up plastic carrier bags. Why? I have no idea. I am making an interesting bag. It makes a noise when I knit.
  4. I have yet to learn how to operate the DVD player. It arrived in this house in 2000.
  5. I can never find my glasses. They are usually on top of my head.
  6. I have a scroll saw in my kitchen. Everyone should have one in their kitchen. It is very useful.

There you are. See? I actually managed to post something. Feel free to do this one, if you haven't done it before, and come back and tell me so I can come and see if I really am very odd or in the company of friends!

Tomorrow we will discuss eyes.

New look!

Hello. So what do you think??

Morning Glory spent ages yesterday trying out different templates for me. This was true international collaboration, let me tell you. My daughter was on MSN in New Zealand, and my sister on email in Switzerland, and MG and I were on MSN - all at the same time. 3 continents and 4 countries. And my son was loitering behind me. I am too much of a chicken to do weird or wonderful things, but MG is Wonder Woman personified. There was much international laughter. Not to mention international suggestions on how to get the tomato marscopone sauce out of my cream sofa cushion after beloved son dropped some on it. Do not ask. We have reached the dull orange stage so far.

Back to the new look. I initially found a beautiful template with flying birds on it, after looking at a zillion. Do you know how many are out there??? Unbelievable! Unfortunately, the birds looked like flying furry caterpillars when it was up. And I really didn't want you to think I intended to have flying furry caterpillars. I am not partial to any sort of caterpillar. And as I am too afraid to change my own template, people, deleting furry caterpillars was not an option, and nor is designing my own header. Not yet. It is on the "to do" list for 2087. Finding a way to get INTO my own blog was a trifle challenging this morning as the little bar had disappeared, but, as you can see, I managed in the end.

Enough waffling on.

Morning Glory is wonderful. She is a star. She is brilliant. And I am happy to keep her from being bored. We can't have that! Thank you so much, my friend.

And now I am off to refill that coffee cup!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Alphabet Soup....

Morning Glory from Seeds from my Garden is back with her Alphabet soup! Here is what she says:

"Well, here goes another round of Alphabet Soup. Tuesday will be the day of the week to share a list of things that add joy and pleasure to your life, all beginning with the specific letter of the alphabet."

And today we start with the letter A. If you want to join in, please use the logo (I haven't got the code if there is one! Yet....) and link back to her blog, and leave a comment for her too, to let her know you have posted! Thanks!
  • My son and his wife both have names starting with A, so they go top of the list. What a delight they are! I am so blessed.
  • Anticipation - of being a Granny in February next year. Oh, the excitement!
  • Apples - my tree is groaning with wonderful apples at the moment, and I have been sitting down peeling and coring and making apple pie fillings to freeze. Apples and custard is also a favourite.
  • Aeroplanes - yes, they do take people I love far way, but they also take me to see them, and bring them home again. How lucky we are to live in a time when travel is possible for so many.
  • Autumn - golden colours as the seasons change, and the celebration of harvest and all the good things grown.
  • Art - I have the most beautiful paintings around my home. Some of the country where I was born, some of family, some painted by my children over the years, and some by my friends. All bring joy to my heart.
  • Age - Morning Glory lists age as well, and I am following her example because I, too, have learnt to celebrate all the good which comes from the passing years. Experiences, adventures, blessings, together with celebrations and tribulations all add up to what we hope is growing wisdom. Well, a little! And as I get older, I hope I never stop learning, or celebrating the years which are a tapestry in glorious colours, of my life. Age has many benefits. You no longer dwell on the immediate too long, but on the wider picture. That has nothing to do with failing eyesight, though maybe that could be an example of wisdom. Hmmmm. I can see a post coming. Eyes. Age. Perspective. Wisdom. Watch this space.

I am sure there are many more As that I could think of and probably will through the day, I am sure. It is so lovely, you know, to focus on the things which add joy and pleasure to our lives. You can't help but smile as you think about them!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Checking in...

Morning, all - I am watching CNN and the storms in the States as I write, and I am thinking of everyone down in that area. Be safe.

The house is becoming "uni central" at the moment. Things are spilling out of the boxes and bags and we need to get sorted for next Saturday, when David is heading off to uni. He is so excited! Lists are everywhere, and apart from the food bits and the laptop, we have it all, I think. Getting it there may be more of a challenge. I must finish the Mum's Survival Guide I started for him. He keeps thinking of things I need to add - like how to use leftovers etc. Vital essentials, of course.

So this weekend is sorting time.

Not to mention cleaning the house time. I saw a sliver of sunshine yesterday for a very brief moment, and was immediately reminded of the plusses of grey wet days. You can't see the dust.

My duster, polish and I are off to battle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The knee...

I went.

I saw the Consultant.

In the distance.

He saw me.

From a distance.

I saw his registrar.

A new one.

Let's start from the beginning, he said.

I am losing the will to live.

I am starting to wonder if I am losing my mind. They don't know why it isn't getting any better. They are talking about scopes to see what is happening in the knee. And will clean it out if there is anything there. When? In a few weeks. They will write to me.

What do I do then? Rest and take painkilliers. Work is not thrilled. I am not thrilled. I sat in the car on the way back and said to my friend - am I imagining all of this? Is it real? Does it really hurt? Am I having a nervous breakdown? Is it all psychosomatic?

Then last night I took measurements of my knees again, and I took photos. They are hideous. It is swollen and mis-shapen. And hideous. But hey, that knee is not right. Not at all.
I am not going mad.

Am I????

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A special blessing......

There I was, minding my own business, waiting for a friend to collect me for a visit to our garden centre for tea, and the postman arrived. Late. Very late. He rang the doorbell. This is not normal. And I went to see what the problem was, and he handed me a parcel. A totally unexpected parcel. So I looked at it, and recognised the name and stood there saying - it is from Crystal! She lives in Canada!

He must have thought I had a screw loose.

I dashed hobbled inside, and tossed the letters and bills aside, and opened it and ......


The most wonderful, thoughtful gift, from my friend, Crystal at Be the change you want to see !! I have been so spoilt! A lovely set of cards, a Worship CD which is playing as I speak, Hawaiian Colada Rooibos tea, Ginger Bounce Rooibos tea, Icewine chocolate and best of all, a beautiful handmade card, with a handwritten note from Crystal.

Sigh. You cannot guess at how broad my grin is at the moment. And has been ever since it arrived. Thank you SO much, my friend. What a beautiful gesture of friendship.


I googled her address, and came up with a possible phone number, and called her. Of course I did. Thank heavens the number was right. And that she answered. And we talked for nearly an hour and believe me, the conversation never faltered for a second. It was such fun! Once I had explained who I was, that is!

What a lovely day it has been. I can't wait to meet her in person one day, and if you don't already know her, pop over now and visit. She and I are very alike. We laugh about how similar we are, and oh my did we laugh on the phone too. Conversation is so easy when you know someone so well.

If ever there was a good reason to blog, this is it. Chatting to friends on the phone, and meeting them in person too. I have been so blessed here. Both in the wonderful friends I have met and got to know in person, and those I have talked to on the phone. It just keeps getting better! We really are a community!

Thanks again, Crystal!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A day away from the couch at last....

I have been helping to choose doors. Remember the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom of a few months ago? We have moved on to my friend's doors, paint, other bathroom, lights, flooring etc etc etc. In fact, the builder sees me arrive and groans - oh *** here comes trouble - yep. That would be me.

I love building sites. Houses. I absolutely love reading floor plans. I think I may be a little odd. And those sweet little test pots of paint? Lead me to them. I get all excited in DIY stores too. I had to be dragged away from bench saws last week.

However, as I am driven around, dispensing my invaluable advice, and being fed lunch and coffee.... we had to establish coffee as part of the ground rules...... I am happy to oblige. I am a lot cheaper than an interior designer. As in "free". And it is not my couch. I get out a little. Life and all its excitement is just beyond the car. I am easy to amuse, people. Especially when I make decisions suggestions and don't have to pay.

Anyway. I have been on a door hunting jaunt in the rain. It was fun. And on the way home, I had a call from the consultant to say he wants to see me on Thursday morning, which is excellent news. After 12 weeks, I will not be leaving his consulting room without a treatment plan. His secretary, bless her heart, has pulled strings with vigour for me, and I am beyond grateful. I am just happy he survived his cycle trip from Lands' End to John o' Groats. She has even guaranteed to see that he is there in person and not some new registrar. She is a gem.

So today is all good so far. You needed to know this!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Story telling

This morning, I was reading through some blogs, and something Antiquemommy said in her post on photoshop really made me think. She said " At the core of my being is a story teller......." and it stopped me in my tracks. I sat here just thinking, and her words whirled round in my head. She is a consummate story teller indeed. And she is looking for other ways to develop her story telling, through her photography, art etc.

But back to the story teller part.

Centuries, if not millenia ago, story telling was a fundamental part of daily living. From the beginning of time, stories were passed down through the ages. Then came the art, and then the word, then paper etc etc and now we have the computer today. But the need to keep telling those stories is at the core of our beings, as she put it so beautifully.

We are born with a need to communicate, and so that is what we do right here. We tell our stories, and those of our ancestors at times too. We are preserving the past for the future generations yet to come. Our stories about how we grew up, how we raised our families, will in time make up a glorious patchwork of what life was like in our times.

How many of us have found old letters from our great grandparents and read them, enthralled at their lives back then before we were born? How many of us still have living family members with wonderful stories to tell? How did your families come to live in the country you call home? This is history in the "subjective" sense. The best sense.

And we use our words, as well as our hands to create those stories. Some paint. Others take photos. Some create beautiful quilts, or embroider tiny stitches into beautiful pictures. Some use their art, whatever form that may take, and some their voices. We are all singing the song of our lives in one way or another. In real life, our faces are part of our stories, too.

We tell our stories so we can remember. Or so we can warn. So we can share. So we can learn. So we can smile. For so many reasons. In so many ways. We are leaving traces of each of our lives right here.

"At the core of my being is a story teller..."

Me too, AM, Me too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sport is good...

It is raining. I may have mentioned RAIN before. More than once. But just in case you missed that part.....it is raining. Wet stuff.

I hope everyone watched the opening of the Paralympics. Stunning. Gentle and absolutely beautiful, and for the first time I can ever remember, the stands were filled to overflowing, and how those athletes deserved it! If you missed it, go and check it out on the web. As I would again, except that this computer is shutting down every time anything remotely interesting involving Windows media player pops up. The gremlin is alive and well.

Seriously, though, if you missed it, go and watch. It will be time well spent.

And then there is the tennis. Oh my word. It is just as exciting when you have to listen to it on the radio, because you don't have Sky TV. Could Murray beat Nadal?? Can Roger win it again? I love Roger. It is the Swiss/SA connection, of course, and the combination of such style and elegance with superb sportsmanship and ability. Not to mention the fact that watching him move is like poetry in motion. I miss seeing the poetry in motion bit. One has to use one's imagination, which is a bit of a bother. This is the ONLY Grand Slam tournament we have not had on ordinary tv, and I am less than impressed. Something to do with cost. Ahem. America??? You listening????

We are off to a shared lunch today at Jean's house. It is just as well she extended her home. The rain, you know. And the 40+ people who will not want to sit in the garden after all. I have yet to make my contribution.

I will be back. Have a super Sunday!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I fixed it. Sort of.

Hah! She says, dusting off her hands. I fixed it.

Well, CHKDSK what ever that is, did the job. It works. It is not 100% yet, but all is backed up and saved and we can reformat the whole thing if it gives up the ghost again any time soon. The man in India wanted to charge me £60 for a "guaranteed resolution". I told him I could do the guaranteed resolution myself for free. Reformatting would be the guaranteed resolution. So there.

I am back.

Winter appears to have arrived. Storms, rain, floods and freezing temps. I know people who have switched on their heating already. This does not bode well for my decision to try to get through winter with no heating this year. At all. As I sit here, I am wearing winter clothing, with many layers. It is 6 September. And there are many blankets on the couches. Sigh. What happened to the forecast that this would be the hottest summer ever?

I have croissants in the oven. A hungry son in the background. My failure to win the £96 million Euro lotto last night has put a few minors kinks in my plans for the day. What an irritation. Oh well. Dreams are fun! And now I am going to curl up under those blankets on the couch. And dream about Hawaii.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 05, 2008


11.25am yesterday the laptop was collected.
11.26am yesterday the main desk top computer (11 months old) died.
It is a Dell.

I am trying to fix.

I am doomed.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Autumn is not far off...

I do like the new computer chair. It has wheels and goes round in circles. Yes, I am 54, not 4, I know. But it is fun! Small things amuse..... etc etc.

The footstool is also a delight. Getting up from the combined couch and footstool is a somewhat less than elegant vision, but who cares. It has been windy, cold and decidedly autumnal here for the past 2 days, and I have been sitting there in state, complete with a blanket and heated wheatbag for my feet. All that is missing is the zimmer frame and slippers. And knitting. I have books to read and the phone next to me, and I am all set. Don't know what for, mind you. Senility?

The allotment has been producing potatoes, beetroot and courgettes, and my beans are doing really well. I have plenty to pick and the tomatoes are coming on as well. The cherry ones are ripe and eaten, and the others are big but still green. Plenty of lettuce too. Sigh. I love eating food I have grown. I need to plan for more next year.

The pound is falling by the day, and the British economy is not looking at all healthy, and the government is trying various ways to prop it up, but everyone is feeling the pinch. Did you know that in the 1929 depression, the banks in America were closed for 100 days? Can you just imagine what would happen today if the same thing was to happen? No access to money for 100 days. Could we cope? Survive?

One of the things our government was not happy to have leaked recently, was a document detailing the potential for a rise in crime if the country goes into full blown recession. Mind you, a recession is technically 2 quarters of negative growth, so I am assuming we actually are in recession. The potential for a huge increase in fraud, and computer/internet crime was discussed. Pawnbrokers are apparently reporting booming business too. Unemployment is on the increase, as are house repossessions. People are struggling. There are a lot of homes for sale around here.

I don't know how I got onto this subject. Growing food. That was it. We will not starve. We have beans. I must remember to plant cucumber seeds next year. I have no idea how I missed that one this summer. And strawberries would be good too.

Right. I am off to make pesto pasta and salad from the garden for supper. Frugal food is good. The weather in the coming days promises to be diabolical, with the tail end of your hurricanes heading this way, so maybe tomorrow I will make soup. Autumn must be here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Goodbye, DELL

Did DELL call yesterday? No. Did I call DELL? Yes. Again. Because I knew Customer Services closes at 5pm, so I called at 4.30pm after sitting here all day waiting for their call.

I was passed around the technical support reception desk like a box of chocolates. 6 times. Until I nearly burst a blood vessel. And finally got transferred to the Customer relations dept, and a lady who authorised the refund. Which will only happen after the laptop is collected. Progress at last.

Oh, she said - is there anything I can do to change your mind? We do not like to lose our customers. I told her that if she had called me back the day I was first promised a call from a Customer Service manager, things may well have been different. They would have retained a customer. However, as no manager had ever called me back, despite daily promises, enough was enough. That she needed to know that there is apparently no Customer Service Department at Dell. Only Tech Support, and that they have no managers. Did she know that? And that managers do not take any calls. Did she know that? And that when you have heard the same thing, read from the same script 6 times in one 50 minute call, you tend to get a little irate. Yes, this call also lasted 50 mins. I will be watching my phone bills to see how it all adds up.

I rest my case. DO NOT BUY A DELL. If you are very, very lucky, it will work, and no doubt you will be happy. If not, however, you are entering what is known on the internet as DELL HELL. (I just googled it now and there are 389,000 entries under Dell Hell.) And before you even consider one, check out the Dell blog, Direct2Dell, and avoid any computer which may have the faulty graphics card. Just read what people are saying.

So maybe this is nearly over. I just want to cry. For my son. For both my sons. And for me too. I hate going to war about things. This time, it was so important that David had something good happen. Given with love, and received with delight. Andrew got his dream computer for him. And it all ended in disaster. As I said before, it mattered. This time, it really mattered and Dell blew more than just the rotten computer. He blew my son's dreams out of the water.

And we still have to find him a computer.

So it is nearly over. I hope. And we can revert back to normal blogging. Whatever that may be. More conversations from the couch, until the consultant returns next Monday. I hope.

Venturing out a little...

Schools are going back as I speak. Some yesterday, some today and some tomorrow. Me? I am at home. Where I have been for the past nearly 11 weeks. My attempts to heal myself overnight failed. I am not a miracle worker after all.

I tried driving a little further afield, and needed a nap. And when I say a little further afield, I mean 2 miles. Me the long distance driver, who loves zooming all over Europe, done in by 2 miles. So that clearly didn't work very well.

Then, a friend offered to take me to get the footstool I need to rest my leg on - please tell me why I only realised this 10 weeks after damaging it? All that time wasted! It would have saved my couch covers too. But never mind. Where was I.... the footstool.

So I was collected at 9, and we got to Ikea and had coffee and something to eat. Then I was so good - I had my list, did not walk round the floor, but went straight to the warehouse part, collected what I needed and checked out. It took me 50 mins in total. I had to then sit down. For an hour and a half. On to lunch, sitting down, and instead of walking round the shops, I sat on a bench for another hour and a half until it was time to come home. I was finished. Exhausted. I snoozed on the couch.

So what did that prove? I was out of the house for less than a full working day, and sitting down for the best part of it. And I could not cope. At this rate, heaven knows when I will be able to go back to work. I am on my feet all day at work, or walking about up and down stairs. And it is about 15 miles drive from here too. And then back. I have a headache just thinking about it all.

Anyway. I have a footstool. Bargain price.

I finished reading The Shack" over the weekend, and occupied an extremely large part of my time afterwards trawling through a zillion blogs to see what other people thought about it. It gave me a great deal to think about, I have to say. Leave your preconceptions behind when you read it, and just focus on the story. It is fiction, remember, and written for the author's children initially, never intended for global publication. Many people talk about the forgiveness in the book. Others, the healing, grace or fear. For me, the main focus in the end, was the justice. It really challenged me. Any book which encourages conversation, discussion, debate or thought is worth reading, I think. And this certainly does that. So read it, and then come back and let me know what you think!

Dell update: No word from them at all. And I spent another hour on the phone to India last night. The man I spoke to says he has emailed their customer service department who will call me today, and he says he will call to check on that tomorrow. Hmmmm. The jury is out on that one. I have had no response to any of my emails or comments on the dell blogs.

And now I am going to call the Consultant's secreatary to find out re treatment etc. Just on a side note - my sister's friend went to the doctor last Friday, because she was concerned about something. She had an MRI yesterday, and saw the doctor a couple of hours later for the results. All is well. However, the contrast with here is beyond belief. This is also a first world country after all.