Sunday, October 31, 2010

An autumn weekend.....

Well hello, from Middle England on a grey and decidedly damp Sunday morning. The clocks went back last night, so I am a trifle discombobulated. I HATE clocks going back. I want to stay on summer time all year round. The thought of dark afternoons just does not work for me. But there you go. I cannot stop time. But the powers that be can it seems. And reverse it too.

Before I ramble on, please pop over to Notes from the Frugal Trenches and think about whether or not you could help with leggings and sweaters for babies this Christmas. Make, buy - whatever. And a toy too. How simple is that. And what a difference we could all make. Little steps, people, but together, giant strides.

So, what have you all been up to this weekend? It was lovely weather yesterday morning, so my stick and I poddled off along the road to the next village with my camera, to take more photos of the trees in their Autumnal Glory. Beautiful. And a great deal colder than I thought when I set off. By the time I got home, I was all red and blotchy in a highly attractive fashion from the cold. It took some time to thaw.

(The little cradle is finished. The stickers are the room decor type which you can remove and change. But they looked cute. I hope Missy likes playing with it when she comes to visit her Moregranny.)

Back to yesterday.....
And then I went to look at the garden, and 3 hours later crawled back inside. Hacking, heaving, filling bags of leaves, emptying growbags, yanking. Did I overdo it? What do you think? So I washed my hands, surveyed the wrecked nail varnish ( I didn't pause to look for the gardening gloves) and retired to the couch where I fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Waking now and then to crochet a stitch or two.

The curtains. In place. And you know what - I am really happy they are up. Until a few weeks ago, our garden has been completely private, and I have never bothered with curtains, because I love light, and don't like closed curtains. Actually - I love the illusion of space, I think. I never draw the curtains in my bedroom either. Yes, I know about losing heat, but I LIKE open spaces and light etc etc etc! The yellow dangly things are for summer - to keep the flies out. I just pull it over the open door and wildlife thinks twice before attempting entry. I have to say that the kitchen is warmer with the curtains up and closed in the evenings. So it is all good.

I forgot to mention that a parcel arrived at the crack of dawn yesterday. Well, I was still in bed, and we will not discuss the fact that it was 9am at this point. Anyway, I managed to get to the front door. My friend, Cheryl had been to the States to visit her sister, and she brought home some bits for me. Just look at it all!! I am eating peanut butter M&Ms as I speak. Divine. And I had never seen the Southern Living magazine so many of you talk about, so that was lovely too. Sigh. Such a surprise, and such fun!

That is all for now, my friends. Enjoy your Sunday, wherever you may be!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The T-Mobile Welcome Back

The new T-mobile ad aired tonight. Just wonderful. I wish I had been arriving at Terminal 5 on Wednesday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I need to clone myself. One person is not enough. There needs to be at least two of me. Mind you, looking at the house, I could do with an abode cloning too. There is certainly enough stuff here for 2 or 3 houses, and I am sure you all have the same problem - what to do with it all. Back when I was young, we snapped up any old furniture from grandparents or parents. Hah. Now we are stuck with the lot. Forever. Those were the days when you bought a lounge suite which lasted your entire life, with a few recovering episodes along the way. Not any more. We live in a disposable world. (And have you any idea how expensive it is to have anything recovered? And how few upholsterers there are left on the planet? )

I keep having this dream where I have a new house and NOTHING to put in it, and I have to start from scratch. Ahhh.....dreams are good. It will never happen, of course, because I happen to like old things too. But there are two sides of me, which is why I need to be cloned. The one wants clutter and stuff, and piles of books and crafty things. The other wants a simple home, with order. Unfortunately the two are at war with each other today. And living in a war zone of my own making is not a comfortable thing.

Part of me loves the mountains. The other part loves the sea. I love too many things and there is not enough time to do them all. Sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, photography, adventures, woodwork, writing, reading, people, gardening.... the list goes on. The energy and the legs, however, do not. So two of me would work out quite nicely, I feel. One could rest while the other one moves. Perfect.

Extrovert. Introvert. Talkative. Quiet. Leader. Follower. For heaven's sake, I am Mary and Martha rolled into one. Actually, I am more Martha, but we will not go there now.

All my life, I have been the person who does things. Makes things happen. After the mindfulness workshop, I gather I am supposed to stop the doing, and start the being. I am a trifle confused. However, I now have a book which will explain all. I hope. I don't want to stop the doing part. Well, I could slow down a little more, maybe. Hmmm.

On a practical note, today I actually hemmed the curtains for the french doors in the kitchen. Making curtains does not make the list of the top 10000 things I love to do. They are up as I speak. The goal for the day was achieved. But the other me kept sidling off to edge quilts, make coffee, phone a friend, sit on the couch and entertain the babes and their parents this afternoon..... anything rather than finish hemming. I even waved the duster about for a while. But by nightfall the curtains were indeed up. Something is finished round here. At last.

Actually, thinking about the two sides of me - they can be totally summed up by the fact that I love freshly baked croissants with Boursin cheese (soft white cheese with black pepper, not the garlic one) and jam (jelly to my US friends). Sweet and savoury together. Perfect. Opposites and all that.

Now I need to go and hunt for more red binding. One of me will be back.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hibernation time......

Well, just about every post I write seems to start with the speed of time. The fact that it is flying by. And where have the days, weeks, months gone..... I am not the only one seems that those of us slightly older than 25 all feel the same. Maybe my mother and grandmother were right after all. Time flies by as we get older. Or maybe we just notice it now.

So now that we have got that out of the way, where have I been and what am I doing......

I am not lolling about on the couch eating bonbons being fanned by a slave, you will be disappointed to hear. No. I have been living my life. In real time. Living as in managing to sort a few cupboards, start putting the garden to bed, making bread now and then, firing up the crockpot, making more recession heaters. (Well, I found the gigantic sack of rice I bought for the first lot in one of those cupboards and thought I would make some more.)

Playing with the embroidery machine, making Christmas lists, making an autumn quilt from the Biggest Stash of Fabric in the Northern Hemisphere. And making up a Christmas quilt. See above re stash. I could make 497865. At least.

I don't know what it is about hibernating weather, but I suddenly have the urge to be creative. If you could see my list, you would be mightily impressed. The fact that it is unlikely to get done is irrelevant. Stuff to make. Dreams of stuff to make. I swear I do not need to leave the house for 5 years to get anything crafty. It is already in residence, and occupying a great deal of space, so the sooner I start getting it out and using it the better.

There has been plenty of tossing out going on as well. And hopefully I will soon be able to move my computer corner into another room and have a study, in which there will be books and papers and that sort of stuff, so I can get them out of my sewing room, and have more space on the shelves for that crafty stuff. Stuff. So much stuff. I found boxes of it in the attic. You have no idea how many more boxes I still have to sort through. Sigh.

And I want to make some wooden things again. My scrollsaw is calling. I have ideas.

Add in a workshop on mindfulness I went to on Saturday, coffee with friends, a trip to Ikea, and curtains to shorten now that my neighbours can see straight into my kitchen/family room..... Autumn photos I wanted to take before the rain came yesterday, and the bright sunny ripple blanket in the basket next to my couch. There is something strangely hypnotic in the rhythm of the stitches my fingers work as I sit there under my fleece in the evenings crocheting. The rhymn. Love it.

So that is what is happening here. The crockpot is bubbling away, and I have a wallhanging and quilt to pin. Lots of hand quilting to do in the evenings too now. Books to read. I have the new Max Lucado book on the couch but have yet to start reading it. I sit and work with my hands, and drop off to sleep now and then, while I watch - or listen to - some tv.

Hibernating time.

I feel like cooking. I feel like baking. I feel like making. I love how my home is all autumnal and cosy. It is a feeling of contentment.

I like it.
(Please note the new glasses. The ones which actually enable me to SEE!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Current affairs.......

I have come up with the perfect plan to get rid of the economic woes of the globe. On a pre-determined date and time in the not too distant future, every head of state around the world will press the delete button, and eliminate all debt. Genius. And we will start again with zero debt. Simple. All slimming down of departments in all the governments will continue. All overdrafts will be wiped out and will cease to exist, as will credit cards. Good old debit cards and cash will be the only currencies. Banks will become places which look after our money as a service. Like they used to do. Developing countries could look ahead, instead of paying off the crippling debts of yesteryear. As could families.

And pigs would be flying over central England.

Wouldn't that be good? Not fair, of course, to those who did the lending in the first place, but life is not fair, after all.

Cloud cuckoo land. I know I know. But what IS this debt?? It is not real money, because our venerable governments saw fit to pop the printing presses on overdrive and printed money in abundance. I always thought it had to be backed by Real Gold. But we sold ours, here in the UK. Oops. And all that new money flying off those presses? I have no idea where it went because I can assure you, the stimulus never actually reached the Casa de la Rocking Chair. I would have noticed, and been sure and swift to press the "buy now" button at Amazon.

The country has been dwelling on the spending cuts announced yesterday, and what they mean personally. 490,000 public sector jobs will go. Cuts everywhere. We appear to be acquiring 2 new aircraft carriers which will unfortunately have no planes to fly onto or off them, because they haven't got any suitable ones. Huh?

I tell you, people, we need to move into parliament. We, the women who know how to manage tight budgets. Mind you, I did mention in my letter to the PM that I could teach the Chancellor of the Exchequer a thing or twelve about managing a budget. I am an expert. He has chosen to ignore my suggestion. Oh well.

And the other piece of news which has the nation (well, except for moi) enthralled, is the fact that Wayne Rooney, aged 24, football (soccer) superstar, wants to leave his club. Poor lamb is not wildly happy that he is not earning as much as some of the players at other clubs. Among other things. Not enough. He earns £100 000 a week and wants to up it to £1 million a month. I will say no more.

Except that his timing - all this exploding at the same time as the nation is told it will have to work longer, earn less, pay more tax, and probably lose their jobs - could be better. I prefer rugby to football, so this is all just information provided by the national press today. It is really astonishing how involved the phone-ins on the radio are though....maybe a little light distraction from the more pressing economic woes. Just a point to add here - the "bread line" (poverty) is about £16,000 @ year in the UK. Average salary is apparently £24,000 @ year. You will see why I am a little bemused. He is 24 for heaven's sake, and spectacularly underperformed at the World Cup. And now I will forget I ever knew his name.

Right. Not exactly scintillating stuff.

In more personal news, you will be happy to know that I am no longer frozen. I switched on the heating and it works. At the moment. And the house is warm. I no longer have a cold nose. So much for my stubborn determination to be cold but frugal.

Money money money....... and as for the banks.......

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random nothingness....

Well, hello, all.

I did not intend to take a small blogging break. It just seemed to happen. The neighbours decided to have all their greenery removed from our boundary, exposing our gardens to one another, so there has been much laughter and over-the-fence chatter going on. Their new fence will be arriving in a week, so I need to get my old dilapidated fridge out and round to the front for removal before that happens.

I use the word "I" loosely here. I will be weak and feeble and call some friends of the strong male variety, of course. It weighs a ton. And then it rained, and got cold. And then I sat and made a list of all the things I wanted to make and when I started on a couple, I sort of over did things a bit again. Sigh. Not to mention the fact that I can't find some fabric I know I have somewhere, and then we had the P60 debacle on Monday. Give me strength.

I lost my tax certificates, (the P60s) which I needed to re-send to the Student Loan people because "you have been randomly selected" blah blah blah etc etc. I called them to remind them that the very place I needed to send them to had already made copies of them. Just send them they said. right. Hmmm.

11 hours, 3 black garbage bags of shredded paper and a full recycling bin later, I found them, in a file behind my filing cabinet, under my desk. Do not ask.

I have never had such an organised desk in my life. It is spectacular. But does not feel like home in a sense. I like piles.

And a lunch with more friends from 39 years ago, a sick friend and the spending review today for the country add up to the rest of my week. Exciting stuff.

I am sure I will think of more scintillating stuff tomorrow. I hope.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not a stellar day......

A brief word before I retreat to the couch for the second day running with my recession heaters and fleece blanket.....

I don't know what I have done to my leg, but believe me, if that wretched medical assessment person could see me now, things would be very different. I am perfecting my aged crone look, and even getting out of bed involved much wriggling round on my stomach to roll off the end of the bed on the good leg, avoiding the bad one, which for now seems to hurt from hip to toe. Getting up the stairs involves hands and feet. And time.

Yesterday, I had a cunning plan to ease the pain by re-doing my exercises. To oil the creaks, you see. Hah. Possibly the worst idea in living memory. It involved much muttering as I tried to get back inside the house from my step in the garden where doing the exercises seemed a good place to be. And don't tell me my grammar is up the creek. I know that.

Once I reached the couch with a tray of vital essentials, I flopped and immediately fell asleep. 7 hours later, I woke. Rinse and repeat. I do believe I will be doing the same today.

Once I get moving, which takes a while, let me tell you, I can cope. But the getting moving bit is a real problem. I went out with Glynis the morning to order her new carpets, and so help me, I was a wreck getting in and out of the car.

Aiyaiyai. This does not suit at all. Add to this the fact that at my advanced age, one needs to retain the ability to leap to one's feet and head for the bathroom at speed when nature calls and you will see that I have a slight problem. Leaping to one's feet is not remotely possible.


I can't be doing with any of this. Oh, I had a response from the PM's office. He is sorry to hear about the drama, and has forwarded my letter to 2 government departments. Gee thanks. I have no desire for more officials to mess things up further. Oh well. LIFE IS JUST PEACHY.

That is all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Sunflower.....

There once was a Sunflower.

It grew tall and strong and then one day, a strong wind came and snapped off its beautiful big head, just as it had started opening its petals to the sun it followed each day. And the Gardener was sad.

So the big strong stem just stood there. The Gardener went away for a while, and often thought of her Sunflower which was cut off before its prime. What a waste, the Gardener thought. All that care, and all the protective ties to the stake had not been enough. Other sunflowers grew, and each of them had one beautiful head, but none were quite as big or splendid as the Sunflower which snapped.

And then the Gardener noticed something special. On each side of the Sunflower's stem, little shoots appeared, and then one day, a small sunflower appeared. And a few days later, twins arrived too! Not one beautiful sunflower, not two, but three!

And the Gardener smiled. She knew, you see, that life can be like that. Something dies, and then a while later, something beautiful appears from the ashes. And something beautiful is usually not one, not two, but three times more special.

And the Gardener was happy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A modern day wonder...........

Mario....a miner since the age of 12. On his knees giving thanks as he reached the top of the shaft in that amazing rescue pod. Are you watching? Are you wiping a tear now and then? Are you celebrating some wonderful good news today?

I have been watching since the early hours of the morning, and watching on and off all day - and the grin doesn't falter, and the catch in the throat remains. And I want to be watching when the shift boss, the man who was in charge down there in the bowels of the earth comes up - the last of the miners. What a job he has done. In fact, what a huge and spectacular job everyone has done. And hats off to that American driller who went back home yesterday, saying that his job was done. Amazing machinery. Amazing men. Amazing planning and execution of something never achieved before. 33 men are almost back on on the surface of the earth.

And (there are too many "ands" today) what about the families..... the doctors, psychologists, the experts from around the world - all involved, and all players in today's modern day wonder.

I salute each and every one and I am celebrating along with the rest of the world. Phenomenal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Advancing years..........

Apparently middle age / mid life is supposed to be the years between 35 and 45. What????? If I actually think about that, it does, of course, make perfect sense, seeing that I am not really anticipating living to 112, which I would have to, in order to be able to say I was middle aged right now.

I seem to have spent the greater part of my life in a delusion then. When I was 35, I had a one year old, and while I was a slightly older mother, I still felt young. Ish. And I most certainly did not consider myself middle aged at 40. Or 45, come to that. Deluded, I tell you.

Now I am 56, I am finally ready to think of myself, with all my children away from home, as entering the middle years. And then I find out that they ended 11 years ago! No!! How did that happen? And all of a sudden, those little cherubs I used to teach make perfect sense in retrospect, when I remember that they used to refer to me as old. Ancient. Oh help.

Age has never bothered me at all. It still doesn't. What does bother me is that the whole world is being run by 12 year olds, and that thought absolutely puts me in the Granny Category. I am a Granny, of course, and that is lovely, but the bits that come with it are a trifle alarming. I mean think about it - the people with the power to press the button to send us to oblivion are all young enough to be our kids, and so help me, they are CHILDREN. (Never mind that they are all perilously close to MIDDLE AGE!)


This is what every generation has had to deal with. Now it is my turn. And it is not that comfortable. I had a slight problem on the help line to my mobile phone company yesterday (don't get me started on them) and the person I was speaking to could not remember a time when there were no mobile phones, which means she has to be about 16. And I have been a client of that company since before she was born. I rest my case. We did not discuss the amazing advent of the calculator or computer or the slide rule issue. I appear to be very old.

Well, to the people I deal with as I try to sort out Life, anyway. When I was last in the hairdresser, a young assistant came up to me, and asked if I had taught her. Yes, I had. And she was a delight to meet again, especially as she had been a Challenge of the Highest Order, aged 13, and here she is, beautiful, hardworking, and on course to do really well. It helped that she told me that she was really upset when I left, and that she still remembers my classes for what seem to be the right reasons. The laughter, the fun they had while learning, and the fact that I had perfected my impression of the road runner. That works for me. I am memorable. Hahahaha.

Life is always about choices, and I am moving randomly here. I choose to see myself as Me, just the way I feel now. The number of years is not an issue. I still get as excited about things as I did when I was 20, you know. As irate too. I still have boundless enthusiasm and am full of dreams and hopes. Ideas. Plans.

That enthusiasm is slightly tempered by the wisdom which has accrued, I hope, from living for 56 years in a changing world. Not the world at large alone, but my world. Things happen. They leave their mark. See the stress highlights in the hair. And we will not discuss the horror of actually viewing one's face in the mirror while wearing reading glasses or the detrimental effects of gravity to skin. Those wrinkly bits are quite clearly laughter lines. Or pillow creases. Character, I tell you. Character. Interesting stuff.

Young at heart is a phrase I have never been comfortable with. It is more than heart, and yes, Mum, that applies to you too. Young in outlook. Not settled in ways cast in cement. Being open to change. Letting go of things which are no longer important. Trying new things. Challenging yourself to do new stuff. My mother is good at this. Her attitude belies her age. We are "can do" kinds of people. I love learning new things. It may take a little longer to gel nowadays, but that is because I have to get used to the new glasses, of course, or the weather, or the time of day, and is nothing to do with the brain power at all. Hmmm. I like to see it that way.

I love knowing that in recent years, it has been discovered that the brain has plasticity, and changes, adapts and neurons keep growing and developing new paths throughout our lives. The brain is capable of anything, you know. Up until just a few years ago, get this, no-one knew. They thought the brain was set at childhood and that was it. Oh no, it is not. And hallelujah for that.

I am rambling in different directions this morning. No apologies. This is an unplanned post and it will go where it feels like going.

Time - seconds, minutes, hours, days months and years pass by at the same speed they always do. We can't alter time. The choice we make is in how we spend that time. I know I wrote about living NOW a few days ago, and not spending time waiting, but in real life, there is a lot of waiting we have to do for things outside our control to be done. I can't influence that. But I do get to make the choice about how I wait. And being older plays a huge part in that, because I KNOW things. I know what is important and what is not.

So what age am I in right now? I don't know what it is called, or why. Are we the Baby Boomers? The Empty Nesters? The Golden Years, The..... Does it matter? If I want to think I am middle aged or about to have a Gap Year, I will. And to heck with the labels. We can be as unique as we like! Now where did I leave my specs and my stick........

Monday, October 11, 2010

A hermit........

I think I am turning into a hermit. A friend of mine popped in yesterday to use my embroidery machine, and she mentioned that she was a bit of a hermit nowadays. Well, I identify, now I come to think of it. Me too. A hermit. Some days I don't leave the house, and some days I may not actually speak out loud at all. (In my head is a totally different story, of course. There is plenty of noise going on in there. I need to practice the mindful stuff more, I feel. ) But the silence is fine. Welcomed, even.

A hermit. I can just see it in the street will start pointing at the house and saying...there is an old woman who lives in that house, but she never comes out. Maybe she is a witch. Or some such stuff. Nothing wrong with the imagination now, is there.....


I don't actually want to go out anywhere - there is so much to be done here, and so many things I want to make. I try..... last night I fell asleep mid stitch on the couch and woke at 2,30am. I look like the old crone (see paragraph above) today. Just perfect.

Oh I must tell you about my abortive attempt to exercise. I decided that, in the interest of rediscovering the missing stomach muscles, I would try sit ups. Brilliant idea. So I rolled out of bed onto the floor, forgetting to establish just how I would get up before I hit the ground. Well, I lay there, and hooked my feet under the huge old chest of drawers which weighs more than a hippopotamus, and started doing sit ups (with knees slightly bent). And then I got sudden and hideous cramp in the bad leg, right up to my thigh from the toes. I could NOT unhook it from under the chest, and was writhing about trying to work out how to disengage said foot and trying to counter the cramp, and then realised I could not get off the floor anyway.

Finally managed to get the foot out, and roll to the bed, and lever myself up. You have no idea. Hair on end, and oh the pain from the cramp. I decided that gym had its pros. I would love to go back to gym and have the experts round to help in emergencies. I have resisted the urge to try again. For now. I need a Plan B. Or C.

Life at RCR. Nothing ever goes quite to plan. I am still waiting for a reply to my letter to the PM by the way. They usually say you will get a response within 28 days, but that has been and gone. I suppose with party conferences and the economy to sort out, he may be a little busy. But I am waiting.

Ah well. There are advantages to being a hermit. I get to have naps on the couch in the afternoons. Just think of all the petrol I save.........

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The perfect time.....

There were a few reminders on Facebook yesterday that today would be the 10/10/10, and so I dutifully watched the clock this morning for many a minute for the time to register 10.10am on the 10/10/10. The message attached to the reminder mentioned that it could only happen once every 1000 years. So it was special. Thousands of weddings are taking place today. The date is "auspicious". Right??


Nothing spectacular happened, might I add. Apart from the instant realisation that I had been wasting 10 minutes of my life prior to "the perfect time". Waiting. 10 minutes that were very special in MY life, because I would never get them back. Gone. History.

There are perfect moments every day, if we just take note of them. We don't need to synchronise watches, or look at the world in general to know them. Or check the calendar. Or play the once a year number game. Next year it will be the 11 November which is "special". And the year after, the 12 December..........

We spend so much time and effort planning ahead, or looking back at the past, and waiting, waiting for something to happen. For perfection,. The right time. It never comes you know. Now is the only time we have. Right now.

Life is about "doing". Not waiting.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Metaphorical post it notes.......

Oh good grief, Blogger has changed itself again, and when I sign in, I have to scroll down forever to find the latest updates. Yes, I KNOW I SHOULD USE GOOGLE READER but it worked for me. Till now. And first thing on a Friday morning, I really do not want to have to deal with change. Any change. Especially not when the computer is doing its scan and is moving at the pace of an arthritic snail.

Oh well.

Morning, all.

I have coffee. All will be well.

A few days ago, while chatting to a friend, I had this mental image of a wall full of papers stuck on it. Each paper had a name on the top, and was covered (or not) with all the things associated with the name. Interests, memories, talents, gifts, experiences etc etc. Some were completely obscured by words, and yet some were strangely blank. Nothing to do with age - just sort of empty. It was a funny feeling, and is largely governed, I suppose, by how well I really know each of the names on the papers.

Wouldn't it be interesting to find out what others would jot down about us, should they feel moved to slap post-it notes all over their walls. It is of course, totally subjective. We see what we want to see in some cases. We are also oblivious to others.

There is no such thing as a blank paper. It depends on how well hidden people are, and how close we are allowed to get. And then there is the dimensional aspect too. Here, as we all know, huge sections of our lives are veiled for numerous reasons. So you see one dimension of my life, (and me) or maybe two. It is the same in real life, isn't it.

I am very human, and I no doubt irritate my family and friends at times, (actually, drive them up the wall is probably more accurate) just as I get irritated too. Remember the human bit! So then I thought - what if I binned the mythical papers, and replaced them with new ones, just listing 5 major blessings each person represented in my life. Focus on the positive, what they had taught me, and suddenly there were no blank papers. I struggled to limit myself to five. And throughout this mental exercise, I smiled.

But the point I have been plodding towards slowly here is the influence our family and friends have on who we are right now - who we have become, or are becoming. How the courses of our lives change subtly according to the influences we allow into it. The people.

There are always events out of our control which alter us in cataclysmic ways at times. No denying that, or a whole host of other things. What I was concentrating on this time was just how the people in our lives leave little or huge parts of themselves in us, and how that in turn embeds itself in our reality and influences others in other spheres.

Am I making any sense here?

Let me use Jean as an example. She will probably shoot me, but hey, she is a perfect illustration.
Jean is my friend, and I love her dearly. So the five things I can say about her are that she is contented. She leads a simple life, and she laughs a lot - there is great joy in her life. She has a huge and gentle heart. And she has an amazing generosity of spirit, with her time, her actions and her love.

Thank the good Lord I see a lot of her, because I am mercurial, lose my temper, forget to laugh and let complications obscure simplicity. By just being Jean, her influence on my life rubs off, and hopefully, I am learning to listen to her silences when I am ranting on about stuff. Among a host of other things. See?

I have stripped away the talents and the interests, and the ability to make the world's best scones and jam, and the gardening expertise, and the card making, and sewing, and .........

All those are things which add multiple layers to a lovely lady. And yet, the ones I, and everyone else who is privileged to know her, think of as being the essence of who she is, have nothing to do with what she does, but who she is. Inside. This is the stuff which matters in the end. The stuff which changes people.

And so it is with all of us. We all have influence. Let's just hope it is more positive than negative.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

So much to pray for.......

What a day it has been.

I have spent today with a friend in hospital, while she had her pic line inserted and then had her first dose of chemo. That took most of the day. Her breast cancer returned after 10 clear years, which is really not fair at all.

Then home to call my sister to hear how a dear friend of ours is doing after a mega op (she is in her late 70s) for trigeminal neuralgia which involved nerves in the head, veins and silicone leaves.

And then checking on facebook to see how an old school friend of mine is doing. He is having a triple bypass as I speak in Oklahoma City, where he is a pastor. That was as much a surprise to him as it was to everyone who knows him and his family. (So far, so good.)

So I am worn out.

Can't be bothered to cook, so a sandwich will do tonight. On the sofa. With a fleece. I do believe I will be asleep in seconds.

I don't think that I mentioned that I stabbed my finger while making the apple dumplings. I did exactly what I would have yelled at the kids for doing - stabbed the croissant cardboard when it wouldn't open, and the knife slipped and hit the joint of my index finger. Of course it did. I knew it would, didn't I. I am a mother. We know everything. Hmmm. At least it has stopped bleeding, but it is rather large. And not bendy. Oh well. Inconvenient. And trivial.

Today especially, I am reminded that I have so much to be thankful for, even though I creak a lot. And I am also in awe of the bravery I see in the faces of those confronting huge challenges.

I just wish I really did have access to a magic wand.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Flat Princess arrives in England......

The Flat Princess arrived to visit last week. She has dealt with the jetlag, and is regretting not packing more warm clothes, believe me.

She thought my plant umbrellas were a hoot....
And loved the cosmos!

After whizzing about my very small garden, which suited her as she is not very big, you see, she flopped on the couch to rest......
While she dozed, I washed all Diana's carebears which I unearthed from a box, so she investigated them for a while. She is not very old, so they were before her time!

I have some African masks on the wall, so she thought climbing in and out was great fun.

And she approved of the new furniture arrangement, because she had room to pose for photos.

The weather has been appalling, so getting out and about has been difficult, but today we managed to fit in a visit to the village, and she loved seeing the church on the hill......

with the tower which is well over 1000 years old.

And she was intrigued by some of the older houses here too. Not what she is used to at all.....

She did love the church, but was not to keen on the graveyard with the ancient graves and headstones.....
The Square in the village however, really appealed because there were shops! With stuff to buy! Stuff to eat!!

And she approved of the recreation ground - called the Rec. I must say, it looked great in the sun, with the greenery still in place. Some trees are starting to lose their leaves but not many yet..........
She wanted to try out the skateboard ramp, but I was not ready for that.....
And then we went down the valley to the river, and she loved the gate to the fields where the sheep are usually kept. It swings shut and you walk in half way, then move the gate behind you. I don't think she had ever seen one like it before. We were there a while.

She saw the mill house, but my photos were revolting. And she had a great time, and did not get muddy. Me?? That is another story entirely!
Flat Princess is made by Nerine and you can follow her adventures here . What fun it has been having her to visit! Now she is about to pack her bags....... who would like to have her visit next?? Let me know in the comments, and email me your address, and we can get her moving again.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So delicious.............

When you look in your fridge and realise that you have 4 tins of croissant dough which expire tomorrow, there is only ONE solution. You haul out Pioneer Woman's recipe for Apple Dumplings. And make them. As you watch the enormous amount of butter melting, you also realise that there is no possible way that the cooked dumplings will be staying in your house, because in the unlikely event you manage to eat all 12 of them, you will immediately have a heart attack.

Well, I did consider that. So the instant they came out of the oven, I popped them into bowls and toottled around the village dropping them off at friends, with a warning that they were not exactly slimming. I kept two for myself. One for tonight and one for tomorrow. They are delicious. If you haven't tried them yet, I suggest you run right over, print out the recipe and get cooking, people. Perfect for a chilly autumn evening. With ice cream. Or cream. Or both, but we will not go there right now.

I would have taken a photo, but you see, I would have weakened and probably kept 6 which would have been a disaster. I am sure you all understand.

Did I mention that the Flat Princess arrived last week for a visit? She is currently reclining on my couch, waiting for a break in the weather so I can show her the sights around here. Maybe tomorrow. And then she will be eager to move on to her next destination. She could do with something warm to wear at the moment. Photos tomorrow, and then you can all fight about where she heads off to next!

How ironic that I should talk about the FLAT Princess at the same time I am urging you all to bake something which will result in waistlines expanding instantly. Hmph.

Right. I need to go and fire up the recession heaters so I can snuggle under the fleece and watch TV while I read. I am a star at multi-tasking.

That is all. For now.

In defence of the stay at home mother.........

I was a "stay at home mother".

It was the best decision of my life. I chose to have children, and I also chose to raise them myself. I was also extremely fortunate that we could afford to have me stay at home. Don't get me wrong - we were never rich. But we had enough. I wanted to be the one guiding my children. I wanted to be the one looking after them, introducing them to new things. Loving them. Cuddling them when they were hurt or ill. I wanted to be the one taking them to the doctor, to the beach, to play with friends. Travelling at sea with their Dad for long stretches of time.

I also wanted a home where they could be free to have friends round to play, where they could be secure and where I could set the boundaries. I had time to check their homework. Take them to tennis, swimming, ballet, music......

And amazing things happened.

Each child brought with him or her a new group of friends for me. Women I met at the schools, who became and remain, great friends. With it came combined family interaction, and a support group which has never let me down. New interests. New things learned. New experiences. New places to go, and we all benefited enormously from the wide circle of people we mixed with regularly.

We watched each other's children. We collectively parented the lot of them. They all knew they were always welcome in our home, and as they grew to adulthood, they all knew that any of us were available in an emergency. If one of my children's friends had called at 2 in the morning, I would have been there. They knew that. And it worked both ways, of course.

The relationships I built with their friends have remained, you know. I still hear from men I knew as babies 33 years ago, with stories of their lives. Some are fathers now, and they still remember.

Did being at home mean I was less of a person? Absolutely not. I have never been bored in my life, and I had the opportunity to do courses as they were growing, develop new interests, practice new skills, and to volunteer in their schools too. Fund raising takes commitment, and time and a whole lot of energy. And we all threw ourselves into that with enthusiasm. And we had a great deal of fun. We also built relationships with the teaching staff which meant that the parent/school partnership was cemented. The teachers were people. So were we. Not just little Johnnie's Mum or Dad.

I got to meet really interesting people volunteering too. Like Archbishop Tutu, for example. And volunteering takes time, as I said, but the huge reward for me was just amazing.

I had time to be around when my Gran descended into senility. Time to go and cook for her, a couple of times a week, to make sure she had good food. I have been able to be there for my parents as my Dad developed Lewey Body Disease. Being a SAHM meant that I could do so much more. Not just helping out at the schools. There was church, teaching Sunday School, playing guitar in the music group, organising bazaars..... the list goes on.

I learned that you cannot have it all. It is simply not possible. So I chose what was right for me at the time. I knew that I was waving goodbye to a successful career, and high earning potential. But it was MY choice, and I will never apologise for not having a visible economic worth. You see, my contribution to society is still there, and has a huge value.

There were no teaching assistants in those days. Mums helped at school for nothing except the reward of seeing their children learn in a happy environment. Work does not have to be paid for to have any value. Take the army of mothers out of the home, and you are left with gaping voids in communities. Who is around to take care of people? Who is around to help out? Who ferries people in need about? Who bakes or cooks for those disabled? Who is there to just listen?

Service is another word I have been thinking about a great deal, but that can wait for another day. My brain did not die because I stayed home. In fact, if anything, I had the time to keep up more with international affairs and financial trends world-wide than a great many people. Because it interested me. And you know what? It interests my kids too now that they are grown. Their view of the world stretches far beyond the walls of their homes.

I have value. I didn't waste my life. You see, I made a conscious and educated choice, and I have never regretted it for a moment. Sure, I could have done many things. However, I chose not to. My choice. No one made me do it.

I am in no way saying that what I chose for my life would be right for everyone. No. It was right for me. I won't judge other people here. I have friends who thought they would wither and die if they stayed home. Until they did. And then discovered that you can save an enormous amount of money when you have the time to cook from scratch, preserve things you have the time to grow. Make things more cheaply than you can buy them. And gain a huge amount of pleasure from looking around your home and seeing the things you have done to enhance the comfort and sanctuary you have created for your family. And the grins at the school gates when you little ones race out and see you? Priceless.

I so wish more young women had the opportunity to do the same thing now, you know. The rewards are spectacular. My kids have left home now, but my life is not over, even though I have been primarily occupied with their upbringing all these years. The list of dreams is still there, and I have every intention of zapping through it at speed. While I can. Geoff's death meant that I had to change my life in so many ways. Not all great. I had to go out to work, and I can now say for sure that I have seen it from both sides. I know which one was best for my children, and best for me too.

Sigh. There is so much more I could say, but that is enough for now.

I have been a SAHM. And I am proud I managed it.

Friday, October 01, 2010

What I have been doing here........

How can it be Friday already? I have no idea. There has not been a lot of reading going on here. In fact there has not been a lot of computer time at all. There has been a great deal of "doing" though, and that is probably why I fell asleep at 8pm on the couch and woke at 2am this morning. I am not firing on all cylinders today.

My friends and I have had a few days of attempting to decide on the arrangement of furniture in my living room. Life is really exciting when one contemplates moving stuff, you know. Anyway, I told the aerial man that I wanted the aerial on the opposite side of the room to where it is at the moment. Then we decided to check out what the room would look like. I could not make it work. At all. This involved international collaboration, ie photos sent to my sister, who agreed that it all looked wrong - in fact, terrible - and PUT IT BACK IMMEDIATELY.


That brought with it more problems. The whole house had to be moved about. Moving the cupboard with all the hifi equipment in, meant emptying it, because it weighed more than a herd of elephants. And so Jean's car was filled with old LPs, tape, videos and the like. Just so it could be moved. What on earth have I been keeping all that stuff for? I have no idea.

Then I decided to paint a little table the TV will go on in the kitchen. The paint took forever to dry. And I decided that while the paint was out, we may as well do the toy box, and the screen. What can I say - I have a type A personality. The paint wouldn't dry fast enough. It is still tacky as I speak and the aerial man is in the loft. So the 3 painted items of furniture are on sheets in my kitchen. You can't see a work surface for all the stuff piled everywhere. I have a headache just looking at it all.

And the chaos spreads through the house. Every room is a disaster, so he can reach the corners and put in the cables. Stuff everywhere. Did I mention that my head hurts?? I had to empty the cupboards in my bedroom for the cable to come through them too. It was like entering an abyss. More stuff out the door into the charity shops or bins. And more boxes out of the attic to be gone through and sorted. Do not ask how many more there are up there. I don't want to know. But it doesn't look as though I have made a start yet. That says it all.

Getting back to that screen..... it is like 2 doors hinged together, solid at the bottom, and very small trellis at the top.


So I painted it with a small roller. Easy to do when sitting. And the trellis part looked hideous, so I started painting all the insides of the little holes - 4 sides of them x a zillion, and after 3 inches, and bear in mind the trellis part was at least a metre (39 inches) high x 2, my arm was falling off, and the temper was rising, and the hair was sticking to the paint as I leaned close enough to see what I was doing, with the glasses falling off the nose. I gave up, tossed the 2 wrecked little paintbrushes into the rubbish and went and bought spray paint. One of life's little miracles. Spray paint.

Only it is now raining and the wind is blowing, and I can't do it inside and.........

So that is where I have been. What I have been doing. Or helping with. Or watching. And my head hurts.

I have also discovered why my bedroom is always dusty, no matter what I do. There is a gap from the attic floor(fibreglass insulation) into my cupboard. All that dust...... But convenient for aerial man to post cables through, of course. Once he is gone, I will plug that hole. Bubble wrap should do just fine. And hopefully the Mystery Of The Dust will be solved forever.

And then I have to put everything back where it was. Oh good grief. I need a darkened room, cold compress and a nap. And I just looked out at the garden which needs urgent attention, and the thought that I should be pacing myself leaped into my mind. Why is it that so much needs doing at the same time? The change of seasons - that could be it. Huge squirrels are racing along the top of my fence outside, carrying nuts to store for winter.

I have rambled on enough for now. I hope you are all having lovely peaceful Fridays, people.