Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks on a Thursday......

The wind has certainly blown today. I could bemoan the fact that the daffodils are all flattened (or are now picked and in my vases around the house) or I could rejoice in the fact that all my washing is bone dry and smelling of the fresh air. We will go with the latter, I think.

I am in a thankful mood.

Yesterday, my youngest son had to defend his expert witness testimony in a court for his law module. A pretend court, but he was cross-questioned by a real barrister, who I suspect, eats students for breakfast. The good news is that David survived. The great news is that it appears to have gone very well indeed. You have NO idea how relieved I am. I cannot believe that the child - well, man - he is 22 this Sunday - will be graduating this summer. It was just yesterday he was a power ranger. Or so it seems. Sigh.

So back to being thankful.

  1. David's court thingy went very well

  2. The washing is dry

  3. A friend has offered to paint the room I want to turn into my study

  4. Coffee out and a great chat with another friend this morning

  5. Lamb stew bubbling away

  6. Crocheted flowers in a pile next to my couch

  7. Finishing a totally forgettable book. It took forever. But I hate giving up.

  8. Discovering that a "weed" is actually a daisy

  9. The excitement of discovering that the lovely gentle movie I watched yesterday afternoon has been made into a whole TV series too

  10. Skyping with Missy this afternoon, and hearing her new words.

Now, if Blogger would actually post this with paragraphs without me having to resort to fiddling with the html, that would be just peachy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Spring seems to have disappeared for a few days. It is cold and wet, and grey and revolting, so there is a big pot of butternut soup bubbling on the stove and I am about to retire to the couch with the bag of wool and crochet hook and make some flowers.

Watching TV was a little odd this morning. As in all the BBC channels had disappeared into the ether. Then I remembered that today is Day One of the phased digital switch over here in my part of the land, and so I had to work out how to re-tune the televisions. Oh happy day. The little one was no problem at all. The big one, however, took ages and was totally confusing. But hallelujah, the good old Beeb is back in the right place at last. And the cheerful news is that we have to do the whole thing again in 2 weeks. Oh well. At least I should remember what to do. It is just 2 weeks, but you never know...... I tend to forget things 5 minutes after I learn them nowadays.

The fashion comments from yesterday were hilarious. I realised that I had not even got as far as the unfortunate trend in floral leggings, so there will definitely have to be more "down memory lane" posts. Mum and I were discussing fashions this morning, and she started talking about Christian Dior's influence on hems - how they were a foot above floor level, and then she moved on to the fifties styles with masses of petticoats and tight waists, and I had to remind her that THOSE DID NOT APPLY TO ME!!!! Even if it does seem as though I have been here for ever. I was wearing knitted pilchers and bonnets and......does anyone know what I am talking about????

Something else I thought about after I read a comment by an English friend, is how much the war influenced fashion here, and around the world. My mother could wear a designer dress for her 18th or 21st birthday in the late 40s. That would not have happened here. Rationing went on for a long time after the war. All of the fashion industry had been absorbed into other essential wartime manufacture.

Fashion was out of the picture, quite understandably. And that would have significantly altered the way people dressed. I mean, for goodness sake, what would you do with an evening dress when everyday clothing was in very short supply?? It was not important. The fancy stuff. But elsewhere in the world, things were available. Other new world countries had not been bombed to bits. They could keep the element of choice available. But was very different. And that difference lasted a long time.

How very different our worlds are. We speak the same language, but the ways we dressed, grew up, lived, are all so varied. That is one of the reasons I love meeting new friends here. We have wildly different stories to tell.

I remember reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang many years ago, and being totally appalled to realise that while she was the same age as me (or round there), I had had absolutely no idea of what growing up in China was like for my contemporaries. None whatsoever. And this from someone who has always had a fascination for the globe, and its peoples, and who had spent decades trying to learn as much as possible about it all. I mean, I knew more about the Luo people in Africa than I knew of China. There were not many evening dresses in Jung Chang's early life.

And then there are the contrasts in the ways my British friends grew up in post-war Britain and the way I grew up at the bottom of Africa........

But that too can wait for another time. If I remember, of course!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fashions long gone........

When you get to the top of the stairs and find you are clutching the butter and not the washing, you know you are losing your mind. It has been that kind of day. Do not even bother asking where I put the washing.

I was thinking earlier, as I plodded off to pay the bills, about clothing. As one does. How it has changed. When I was a student, it was the era of mini skirts, hotpants and maxi dresses. The era of extremes. I had one outfit I loved - a dress which was short, with buttons from the waist to the neck, and matching hotpants (shorts) to wear under it. It was orange floral. And those of you who are YOUNG can stop wincing this instant. It was classy and I looked stunning.

I remember walking up the thousands of steps at university wondering if my pants (as in underwear) were visible. We all did. Our skirts were SHORT back then. And then, we had the long floating maxi dresses too, which were a lovely way to feel cool and feminine. They created their own breeze. Hell to walk up stairs in, of course, especially when we were clutching heavy files, and couldn't hoik the dress up. It is a wonder our teeth were not knocked out when we tripped.

In res, we were required to wear academic gowns to dinner. And any evening function meant evening dresses. I must have had about 6 or more when I was a student. Probably more.....

If you went to the Opera House (the Nico Malan in Cape Town) to see an opera or ballet, the dress was black tie. Men in dinner suits and ladies in creations - long and formal. I can tell you it made going out ultra special. You would get there early and waft about in your long dress, sipping cocktails before the performance started. My Dad loved sherry over ice. I remember that well. We went to every ballet and every opera. And then there was the theatre....... we had 2 main theatres back then - the Nico and the Baxter, and you dressed smartly when you went to a show.

You know, it was great to have the chance to dress up. I loved it. And I have to say that I have never met a man who did not look stunning in evening dress.

When we got married, I did bring a maxi dress or 2 to the UK. My mother-in-law was appalled. So they were relegated to the back of the cupboard. But when I went to sea with Geoff when he was in the RFA, the dress code was veerrrrry strict. You could wear jeans ashore, or during the day, but absolutely NOT into the lounge or to a meal.

Mind you, in those days, wives were not allowed to darken the doors of the lounge without a male escort, so if G was working through meals, he had to organise one of his junior officers to escort me. There was much rolling of the eyes on my part, I can tell you. And we had to wear skirts at lunch time, and long dresses at night. Just as well I had so many.

The officers all wore their uniforms at lunch and the monkey jackets and dress uniforms at night. The ones with short white jackets, cummerbunds etc. Gorgeous. The stewards used to love washing and ironing my evening dresses and would be vocal in their advice about which one to wear each evening. Accessories too. Hysterical.

And when we had our first home, and entertained at least once a week, our friends wore evening dress. So did we. Unless it was a BBQ, of course. It all changed when the kids came along, though. The entertaining was more family friendly, because we were parents and exhausted! And it was often a last minute gathering of groups of friends, which I loved. I still love impromptu gatherings.

When Geoff left the RFA and joined a commercial company instead, he still wore uniform for dinner, and we (wives) still changed, but not into evening dress. Just into something smarter, usually a dress.

And now??? I think I own one or two dresses. I seriously doubt if they would fit. Scarlett o' Hara had the right idea. You remember the scene where she was hanging on to the bedpost while she was laced into her corset? I need one of those corsets. Urgently. Not to mention the bedpost to hang on to and the maid to lace me up. Everything seems to have lost elasticity and expanded alarmingly. And forget layering - unless it is of the elasticated variety. Layering just makes me look even more rotund. Groan.

I happened to be in Tesco this morning, and I saw a floaty top. It actually reminded me of the tops we wore when we were pregnant. All the fashion nowadays. Floaty can also hide a multitude of sins too, remember..... Anyway, I went to try one one, and it didn't look bad, but what do I know, so I opened the door to the changing room, and asked a passing young Mum (about the same age as my children) if I looked ridiculous in it. Whether my children would be horrified. Whether I would "pass in the dark" as my Dad used to say. She liked it. She also told me she would not say so if she didn't mean it. That was after I said she was free to be totally honest, and gave her the beady eye.

It is almost a full circle in some ways - wearing something which is the same as I once wore when I was young. That sounds strange, but I know what I mean. I miss those long dresses. the way they made me feel. The opportunity to dress up. Feel special. Pretty. I almost wish they would also come in full circle too.

Nowadays, the only opportunity to dress up happens at the occasional "special" birthday. I have some evening outfits - I love them, and they are timeless. But I miss the dresses. And the high heels - oh heavens, they were high. But we can talk about shoes another time. I am certain I wouldn't make it more than 2 steps before I did serious damage to something. White boots.......

Enough of the nostalgia for now. I don't think I have finished talking about fashion from days past.... I may return to the subject. It is fun looking back.

What fashion item do you remember most? Tell me.... I would love to hear!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Many "bags".......

I think I have taken the 40 bags Challenge to new heights, people. That is, if you count having a lorry arrive from the auctioneers this morning, and depart an hour and a half later with many many boxes, 2 grandfather clocks and a huge 3 door ancient oak wardrobe. And assorted sundry extras. And the house seemed lighter for about 20 seconds, and then I started trying to sort the things which were once in the cupboard.

Oh well.

Jean and her sister-in-law, Judy, arrived early to help me get all the things which were going together from around the house, and the auctioneer's moving men were due at 1.30. They arrived at 11am. So things were a little busy around here, but it all got sorted and hopefully the things will find new homes. I have no idea when the auction actually is, but I plan to be there to watch. Jean wants to go too, so we will fit in a coffee somewhere, I am sure. They are based in a small town north of us, which is very pretty, so it will be a good day out.

Does anyone know how possessions seem to expand when there is a space available????? So help me, the stuff in this house seems to have a life of its own. It is growing to fill all vacant areas. Not in the plan. That is why I have been doing battle with it all afternoon. I am not on the winning side. So, although it has been a beautiful day, with sun shining and doors flung open, I have not had time to appreciate it.

Another dear doggie in Switzerland, Sandy, had to be put to sleep today. My sister and her husband have looked after Sandy for years, and she and Naxos were best buddies. But her legs had failed, and so their dear friend, June, Sandy's "Mum", had to take her to the vet this afternoon. After many years of dogs in their home, right now there are none, and it seems very empty and quiet to them. A sad time. Such faithful friends, both of them.

Back to the packing. One of the drawers in the cupboard held all Geoff's things. The RFA ties, the plaques from the ships he sailed on, old passports, the small things he treasured from the children, and other bits. As I opened the drawer, it held an unmistakable trace of him. The scent. Smell. So familiar. And then I started laughing, because, together with the important stuff, there were fuses, new plugs, batteries, and electrical things which are totally foreign to me. I have no idea what to do with them. That is SO Geoff. Coins from decades ago - from all the places he visited. And boxes and boxes of slides of times before me. On his travels round the globe. He never did get round to having them made into prints so I could know where they were or anything about them. Don't put these things off. Do them now.

Actually, that drawer was the hardest part of the day for me. I had not been in there since just after he died, when Diana and I sorted everything. So I bundled it all in a box and will deal with it another time. I am expert in delaying tactics.

Well, my friends, it is good to chat, but the bones, I do believe, have seized up as I sit here. I need to propel myself out of this chair and onto something horizontal. I will be back.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

If Blogger would co-operate.......

The post I have written for today is not behaving. As in no paragraphs, no matter how many times I play with the Html stuff. Sigh. So it can sit there in the folder.

The concerts are over, and they were wonderful. I, on the other hand, have discovered that 2 rehearsals and 2 performances in one week is pushing things way beyond the "I can do this" barrier. I am a wreck. Up, down, up, down, repeatedly, has taken its toll. So I am heading for the couch where, no doubt, I will fall asleep in seconds.

But I loved it all. The still plays in my head. Worth every minute of the consequences.

The other post? It was about one golden day 35 years ago today. But that can wait for another time.

Screech......this one has no paragraphs either!!!! I give up.

Once upon a time......

Before I write anything today, can I just say that THIS IS A HAPPY POST, people. Remember that. Now, where was I...... It was supposed to be early Autumn, but the temperature was soaring towards 30C by early morning. No-one stayed in bed past 6am. There was so much to do. Some of us headed out just after 6 to the hairdresser, and others had tables to sort in the garden, flowers to put out, and thank heavens, sun umbrellas to put up. Great baths of ice were filled round the side of the house to chill the drinks. The gardens were watered, the kitchen was full of people, and there were queues for the bathrooms. The front door stood open, because people came and went and cars arrived, were parked, and carpets vacuumed. The lady with the big cameras arrived and make-up was done and the fact that the hair was not right had to be overlooked. As did Marge's broken glasses. Nails shone, and petticoats were ditched - the heat was overwhelming. It looked beautiful. The house. The people. The flowers. The garden. The tables. Beautiful. And then I slipped into the long white dress with the full circular train, fastened the pearls which had been a 21st birthday present from my parents just 9 months before, the veil was adjusted and the photographer darted about. Then the make-up had to be redone because it melted in the heat. Oh the heat. And the photographer darted some more, and people moved in a kaleidoscope of colour, and little girls in white arrived, and four lovely young women took their place, and picked up their flowers. So many smiles. And the make-up was redone yet again. In small groups they left. The cars bore them away. Until just the people in the kitchen and gardens remained. Except for my Dad. And me. The friend driving the car stood waiting. So we got in, folding that huge train around me, white ribbons flying from the bonnet of the car, my heart pounding. Flowers on my lap. We talked a little on the way there, my Dad and I. He did say, and I remember it clearly, "It is not too late to change your mind, you know...." I grinned at him, and said "Mum would kill us" and he smiled. It was never an option. Colin, driving us, also laughed. And then, there.....outside the church I had grown up attending from a baby to an adult - albeit a very young one, looking back, we arrived. It was time. Standing outside, letting the dress fall into its perfect lines, four of my closest friends adjusting it as I walked slowly to the steps. Dad, right there beside me, strong arm to hold on to, and the music swelling as we got closer. Beautiful music. Blazing sun. Blue skies. The church, so full - people I had known all my life, who I loved dearly and who loved me too, all a part of me. The choir from my school, the minister who had married my parents. Uncle Bob. Walking slowly down the aisle, seeing a sea of faces turned towards me, and thinking, of course I will remember everything. My Mum, my family. And then seeing right at the top of the aisle, the man waiting for me. The smile on his face. I handed my bouquet to my sister, who stood beside me, and so help me, I can hardly remember anything more of the ceremony. It is a blur. That was 35 years ago today. I gather, from friends in Cape Town, that today is the most beautiful of days, much like is was 35 years ago. I do remember the garden back home, filled with over 200 guests - the colour, the laughter, the chatter, the sounds, the food, the pool shimmering in the heat. I remember my train floating out over the pool as I walked along the edge to talk to friends. I know that it was the most beautiful, perfect wedding day anyone could ever have wished for. There was nothing formal about it at all. It was just beautiful. Our wedding day. It is filed away in the depths of my memory for all time now. A golden day. A long time ago...............

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday - worms and music.....

The sun is hiding today, and instead there is a cold wind blowing, and being out in the garden for any length of time is not an option. I did lever 3 old growbags out of their boxes, and put the new ones in, and then I came in to make coffee. Again. My hands were dirty, so that means I did garden today! I also watched a dislodged earthworm slink across the patio. At full stretch, it was over a foot long. Now, I loathe worms and slugs and snails and snakes - anything without legs of the slinky variety,{{{{shudder}}}, so it was a major thing to watch it. But it was so huge, and had to go such a long way to find soil, that I felt it my duty to stand guard in case a pesky bird though it may be a nice snack. And I know worms are good for the garden. I just don't want to see them. Or think about them. And heaven forbid I actually touch one......

So I have been searching the wardrobe for something to wear tonight. We have to wear black skirts or pants, and a bright top. Any bright single colour top - red, blue, green etc. Hmmm. Given that it is freezing out, the ones I can muster mean I will not be warm. Mind you, there are so many of us squashed into the seats that we should be okay.
Setting up for the final rehearsal..............
My friend, Sue.....
Those are some of the altos over there. The church has a gallery all around, and the sopranos and altos sit on opposite sides in the gallery, and around to the organ gallery too - half and half in there. The men sit downstairs, and the band is under the gallery with Jon, the musical director conducting and playing from the front. There are so many of us that we take up half the church!
Three of my friends - we all sit together. These three are all soloists and have the most beautiful voices. It is great singing with them. We have fun - there is a lot of laughter involved in our rehearsals, and somehow, we all manage to learn the music before the shows. All ages sing together - two of our soloists are in their final year at school, and the oldest member of the choir must be in her 70's. There are 91 of us in the choir tonight. Not bad for a little village in the middle of England!

The Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race is about to start now, so I am off to watch. Another very British occasion! I hope you are all enjoying your weekends - our clocks go forward tonight. Great. We lose an hour of sleep. But that does mean we are on British SUMMER Time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sun and fun in the garden.....

Ah, Spring................ the sun has been shining, the skies are blue, the washing has been flapping in the breeze, doors and windows open, and birds chirping all day. I moved one of my chairs outside and sat there for a while, just soaking it all up, with a grin on my face. The baskets have new soil in them, and so do the pots which are free, and there are seedlings coming up in the greenhouse of the flowery variety. The vegetables are in my sewing room, near the window, which is a sun trap. They should start emerging in a week or so. I think. But I am in there each morning, just checking.Oh, how I love this time of year!
Since I have been back, the days have flown by - sorting paperwork, discovering another lovely place for coffee, getting ready to send some things off to the auctioneer - that takes the 40 bags in 40 days to new heights, doesn't it - how many bags would one giant cupboard be equal to????? And spending some time with friends as well. I had a lovely afternoon yesterday with my friend, whose birthday I forget. Every single year. And so I take her out to tea as a grovelling apology. It has now become a tradition. But it was just so good to sit together and catch up for a couple of hours, with no time constraint.
And then there is the singing too. One rehearsal last night, and another tomorrow. What we don't manage in accuracy, we make up for in enthusiasm. It will be perfect on the night. Well, it may not be quite perfect, but we will sound outstanding anyway. There are 2 performances this weekend, and they have been sold out for weeks. I did mention to the musical director, that it is impossible to sing any African sort of music without moving. You will never see an African choir just standing and singing. Hmmm. Jon, the musical director, keeps asking me if I am feeling homesick yet. If the sound is perfect, according to him, I should be homesick. Right. Not yet. Maybe it is the moving bit.....
So, apart from the singing and the friends, and the sun, being outdoors and doing small things around the garden has been the best. A little weeding, and trying to remember what I planted where and when, and grinning at the thought of the colour to come...... I am thinking about how to work out the vegetable garden here. I may change things around, when I can gather some people with muscles together. Those growbags are heavy!


All of the above was written yesterday. I sort of got side-tracked and ended up snoozing on the couch in the evening. All the sun and fresh air, you know!

And today was more sun and more garden. However, it has been a trying day. Starting with a call to find out when my hospital appointment is actually going to be. In my next lifetime, it appears. Well, they have no idea. 18 weeks ago was when I was told there was a 16 week waiting list. Fair enough. But now they have changed their booking process, and in the middle of April, they will be sending out letters telling us how to go about making an appointment. And the waiting list could well be another 16 weeks. As I said, in my next life.

So I was a little ticked off. And decided to get out in the garden and breathe and be. Hah. Everything in the garden was wrong. The ideas in my head do not meld with the reality of the size. And everything in it was in the wrong place today. So I stomped about and .......

Is is just as well I have not had visitors. I have not been all sweetness and light. But I am about to have some chocolate pudding and will then go and sing. It is the weekend. Smile, Linds.

OOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I forgot to tell you about the huge bright spot in my day! I won a giveaway at Helen's place and it dropped through the letterbox this morning. I was SO excited! It is a quilting book called Fresh Quilting by Malka Dubrawsky and it is absolutely stunning. I can't wait to start some stash busting. So you see - something nice always happens!

Thanks again, Helen!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Play time........

Dolls and their pushchairs, little red cars, jungle-gyms, play food, Peter Rabbit books, playdoh.....can you guess where I have been? A little blonde-haired tornado and I have been playing. One just over 2 years old. The one who never seems to run out of energy. Unlike her Moregranny, might I add.

On the way home, I told Jean that it was just as well she was driving, because I would have been asleep at the wheel in seconds. It was a battle to stay awake.

This past weekend, Jean had planned to visit her Mum who is over 90 and in a home near my son's home, and suggested we go down together. The petrol, you know. You need a mortgage to fill the car. So I called and announced that my arrival was imminent. They did not say no.

And early on Saturday - so early that I completely forgot to lock the back door and had to phone a friend, while we barrelled down the motorway, to hotfoot it over to my house and do so immediately - we set off. It promised to be a beautiful day, and it really was. Sunshine and blue skies. And not freezing.

I met A and A at Costco as the doors opened. It was just off the M25, so easy for Jean to drop me and my Stuff, and then she zapped off to see her Mum and go to the seaside with her brother. Missy and I re-acquainted ourselves among the groceries, and she remembered me. I think. I gathered up the olive oil, peanut butter etc that I needed, and today, I remembered that they were still sitting in Ann's kitchen. Well, that did not go to plan then. I will have to go back. The olive oil, you know. It is important.

And so I have spent the past 2 days playing with Missy. She is super cute at the moment - even with a cold and runny nose, and is trying so hard to talk. She is into bags in a big way, and carries 2 or 3 around with her all the time. Full of Stuff. And she loves beads, as in my beads, so she hijacks my necklaces to wear. My attempts at a play-doh bunny were pitiful, but she enjoyed the process. But i an very good at playing with cars on road mats. And dressing dolls. And drawing flowers and trees on the patio with chalk.

So there was a great deal of laughter, a superb BBQ - the first of the year - and I did not stop smiling. I also crocheted many flowers in the evenings when all was quiet. And nearly nodded off.

I have told you the story of "Moregranny" before, I think. Emma's other Granny, Granny2B2, is called Granny. So I am Moregranny. It is a family name, and reminds me of my much loved granny.

When I was little, my Dad's parents lived in Pretoria - 1000 miles away from Cape Town, where we lived. And after my grandfather died, my grandmother came to live in Cape Town, to be closer to her only child, my Dad. My mother explained that I had another Granny, as well as the one I already knew, and I said "More Granny?" as a little one would say. And Mum said yes. And from the moment I saw her, I called her Moregranny, and she loved it. I thought it was her name. And indeed it became her name. By the time she died, when I was 11 or 12, I think, everyone called her Moregranny. My friend, my mother's friends - she was Moregranny. Tiny, Scottish and fiercely independent. She used to drive a huge old car and she peered between the steering wheel and the dashboard to see out the front.

We loved her. Everyone loved her. So I chose to be Missy's Moregranny, you see. I didn't want to me Nanny, or Nanna, or anything else. Being Moregranny is very special.

So this morning, Missy and I waved goodbye to her parents as they went off to work, and had a couple of hours alone together. She did not bat an eyelid, thank heavens. And when her Granny came to collect her and take her off to play, Jean and I set off home.

And here I am. 99% asleep. And it is just 3.30pm. I think I will be having a very early night tonight. But it was wonderful, and I am still smiling.

I love that little girl to bits.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I have just been outside in the dark to look at the moon. Have you checked it tonight? Tomorrow, it will be the closest to earth for 18 years. Big. Bright. A full moon. It is huge tonight, and oh, so bright. Just beautiful. And tomorrow it will be bigger and brighter. So don't forget to look at it!

This has been a quiet and introspective day, followed by dinner with friends. A good day, but ironically, very tiring. And hopefully the sun will shine this weekend, and we can all get out into our gardens. I am so ready for it to be real Spring now. I had a look at the apple tree, and there are buds all over it, as there are on the lilac, and the forsythia is blooming with the daffodils, so it can't be far off now.

I wrote a long post today but I am not sure if I will actually push the publish button yet. Maybe. I will have to think about it some more. The eternal blogging dilemma!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

At the dawn of the blogging age.........

I had a sudden thought this morning - I couldn't remember when I first started blogging, so I checked. The first tentative post was on August 15, 2005. And while I did write 5 more posts that year, I only really started blogging in April 2006. Nearly 5 years ago. Sunday, 2nd April, to be exact.

How could I have known then just what would happen to my life, or how much being a part of the blogging world would help me. Those long lonely nights when sleep was elusive. Time after time, there was a voice somewhere out there which I could hear, and which heard me. People. Real people. So I made friends.

Do you remember the trepidation when you first posted a comment somewhere? I was worried I was intruding. Ridiculous now. But back then, it was a whole new thing. The days before books on blogging were written, and before it became the massive engine it is now. Back then, we just jumped in - or rather, crept in toe by toe, in reality.

And here I am, all those years later, writing my 1315th post. So many words. And now, I am popping back and forth, trying to find and recognise the woman I was back then. How I have changed, and some of you have been there through the metamorphosis. Good? Bad? Does it matter? It is who I am and how this life has shaped me.

(6 hours later)

I got lost in the memories there for a few hours. Back then I didn't say very much, but I remember the emotions behind the words, you see. I remember what I did NOT write, and that was the really important stuff. It took some time to recognise me. The good Lord knows I am older, greyer, and a whole lot wiser. A bit dented and brusied too. But, if nothing else, I am a survivor. With sense of humour intact!

So what have I been up to today? Apart from trawling through old posts? I had an auctioneer come round to see about getting rid of a few things. Large things like cupboards. That must count as a few bags, I think. He was here a while, and then Julia popped in for tea, followed 5 mins later by Jean, who was trying out her bus pass now that she is over 60 - she had been on an adventure - and then a little while later, Glynis and Peter rolled in the door too, so it was a wonderful way to spend the rest of the afternoon. The house was full of chatter and laughter and tea and biscuits.....and some of my favourite people too. Perfect.

They all left together and in the silence, I realised how quiet my life is normally. A little of both - balance - is just right, I think.

My beef stew which had been bubbling away in the crockpot all day was delicious. And now it is time to retire to the couch with a coffee. And a chocolate. The bag count, by the way, is up to 18. It is going well. I now have a medicine cabinet sans medicine which expired in 1996. We are finally up to date. And I will never need to buy another plaster again. Then I moved on to the sewing room. I was buried. I have done 2 sets of drawers and 3 shelves and the mess is diabolical, but it is a work in progress. Watch this space!

Time to rest..............

(What is wrong with the spellcheck? I click on it and nothing happens at all.......)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The good outweighs the bad........

Sunday was a lovely day round here. The weather was not so great, but it was filled with church and shared lunch and friends, laughter and chatter. And music. And a wonderful sermon. And did I mention the cakes? I think the ladies at church are taking coffee and cakes after the service to new heights. There was the most divine carrot cake, drizzled with honey at the shared lunch too. (I appear to be obsessed with calorie laden goodies this morning.)

So it was a good day. Until I drove home from church last night and the unmistakable sounds of Something Wrong from the engine happened. Coupled with the warning light which means "Stop this instant or you will explode" flashing. I do not need this. And I recognised the sound only too well, after my 3 year relationship with a VW Polo from hell. Ignition coils. I know all about ignition coils.

How to destroy the good feelings in a second. BUT I am prepared for all, people. I happen to have ignition coils in my cupboard. What? You don't? You see, when I first got my not so new car, one blew, so I had all 4 changed, and when the man wanted to take away the 3 working ones, I said, "Oh no you don't. I am keeping them. You never know when I may need one."

And the day has arrived. The Man Who Fixes Cars is coming tomorrow with his fancy spanner thingy to change it. I would do it myself if I had a fancy spanner thingy. I even know where they are. I hope you are impressed at my car mechanic knowledge. I don't actually want to know any of it. I just want my car to GO.

These things are sent to try us. I am being tried.
But the sun is shining and I went for a walk around the lakes this morning with a group of ladies from church. A slow walk. And that was just what I needed. Fresh air, more chatter and laughter, and the stillness of the water with a swan or two drifting about. And then there is the fun I am having crocheting Japanese flowers.....

Life is all about contrasts, isn't it - the good, the bad. The sun is still shining. That is good enough for me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes, tsunamis........

The world is rumbling, isn't it. Earthquakes, tsunamis........ quite terrifying. Christchurch, and now Japan, just weeks apart. The devastation this time seems to be more tsunami related. Thank God the Japanese build for earthquakes. But that nuclear powerplant that they can't cool is a real worry. That could affect us all.

The wave today was 10m high. That is inconceivable. I watched it this morning with horror. And then I heard one seismologist or earthquake geophysicist saying that the wave which annihilated Aceh in 2004 was 22 metres high. I went outside and looked at my house, which has 2 storeys, and thought of a wave 3 times the height barrelling towards me, and my brain just could not cope. I think I would have sat down on the ground and just waited for it to hit.

So the rumblings of the earth are in both hemispheres at the moment. And to add to the problems, apparently the moon is almost at the closest point to the earth. It will be on the 19th March. This, I hear, could and probably will, affect the global weather patterns, as the moon is affected by seismic events on the earth.


So what next.

I remember all those disaster movies. The people in the movies were actors. Today, as at Christchurch and all those other disasters around our world, there were/are no actors. Real lives. Real people. Real pain. Loss. Death. Destruction. Half the globe is on tsunami alert.

It puts my life and my little world into perspective. So today, my prayers and thoughts are with those people in Japan, and other devastated places, whose lives have changed forever because the earth moved.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wherein I ramble.........

I sat down at 8pm last night and the next thing I knew, it was after 1am. I was right. The pacing sort of got forgotten yesterday and enthusiasm of the ridiculous variety invaded my body. End result = moving verrrrry slowly today. You have permission to yell "I told you so". I can take it. I think.

I had a lovely surprise when I finally crawled out of bed this morning - an email to say that I had won a quilting book at Helen's place! If you haven't discovered her yet, pop over and say hello. I have mentioned her blog before, I know.... she lives in Switzerland and is a total delight. So, even thought the skies are grey, the wind is blowing and I am creaking more than the tree over the road, I have a huge grin in place.

Scratch that, the skies are now blue and the wind is howling. I just went out to see if the greenhouse was about to take off again, and my hair now closely resembles that of a troll. Do you remember trolls? Those little rubber people with bright coloured nylon hair sticking straight up in the air? I had one with orange hair. I remember. I loved my troll. Those were the days when we were so content just to have one of anything. One Barbie. One troll. Hair sticking up in the air looked good on my troll. It does not look good on me. However, as there is no-one here to see it, it does not matter at all. Just a note here - my troll did not come with a wardrobe, unlike modern trolls with designer clothes. It had no clothes. And I made its hair go up in the air. But, this vintage troll looks very like my one from a long time ago. (Thank you, Google images, for the vintage troll picture)

I am rambling.

I want to go and fill another bag or 10.

I have a fresh cup of coffee instead.

Hours come and go and time flies by.....................

Well, I got somewhat caught up checking out artists and galleries and auctions and whathaveyous, and completely forgot I was in the middle of writing a post. Actually, I have not got a great deal to tell you all, hence the rambling. What I should have done was go and finish the Autumn quilt. I have another one to make, you see - in shades of purple and yellow, and I really want to get it started. There is a huge gap between what I should do and what I actually do, though. Then I saw the Japanese flowers everyone is crocheting. And the pointy triangular bunting others are crocheting. And then I read a few more inspirational blogs and realised that I was writing drivel today.

So I will stop digging the hole deeper and deeper. And go and make more coffee. I will be back when I have something coherent to say.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Off to a flying start.....

Well, I am off and running, metaphorically speaking! It is Ash Wednesday and thanks to Sarah at Clover Lane I have a house full of boxes waiting to be taken to the charity shop, 2 bags of things for a friend and my daughter-in-law, and the recycling bin is already full. A huge black bag of rubbish is also out of my house. Pop over and visit her - she is very organised, and has some tips for making the challenge slightly less daunting. Right now, I am on a roll. Towards the end of the 40 days, though I may be in need of some encouragement!

The 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge has caught on here among my non-blogging friends too, and all over the place, people are clearing out sorting and getting rid of the excess. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I was given a beautiful dishwasher? Well, I am hoping that some of the things I do not need will bless some people in the same way. Our church is revamping its notice board system, so people can simply pop cards on to it with things they have to give away, and anyone needing the items removes the card and it is all sorted. Brilliant.

I saw the button above at White House Black Shutters after reading a comment at Sarah's place, so I grabbed it too.

An hour has passed since I started writing this - I have been in more cupboards. I cannot describe the state of the house, but hopefully it will get better once some more bags vacate the premises. I reckon at this rate, there will be 40 bags in 4 days. Total so far = 4 bags into recycling. 4 big boxes or bags for the charity shop. 1 bag into the bin, and 3 bags for others. Not bad for Day One.

I need a darkened room and a cold compress for the brow. Maybe a nap. I may not be moving by tomorrow. (As you can see, my pacing efforts get a -0 for the day. Ah well.)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Time to dream of gardens......

Blue skies and shining sun means that my little daffodil, the very first one of the Spring of 2011, opened up its petals today!
Look! I didn't even know I had this little crocus in the back garden, but oh, the delight when I saw the purple colour! This is what I love - the surprises in my garden.
I have started amassing some bags of soil. This says it is a planter, but I am using it as potting soil. It was amazing last year, and I am hoping for similar results this year too. One of them is for the tomato greenhouse. That worked brilliantly last summer, and my tomatoes threatened to take over the world. So many. So tasty. And some are still in my freezer.
I started spreading the packets of seeds out on the table this morning to see what I had. Some of the seeds say to plant out now, and some are to be planted indoors. Or under cover. It is that time of year, and I LOVE it. So today, I got 4 trays ready for flowers. I haven't started on the vegetables yet. Another few weeks will be just fine. I am hoping to grow most of the flowers from seeds. And I have so many I saved from last year too. I took a little bowl this morning, and put a mix of seeds into it, and then tossed them into the front flowerbed. What comes up comes up. This is "scattering " taken to extreme!
See the spring bulbs popping up in the front bed????? Loads of daffodils and tulips. And the lilac is in bud too. I can't wait.

I love Spring. I love the moment when I start to get the garden ready. Actually I love the whole garden thing altogether. The dreaming, visualising, planning, doing. My poor little ancient greenhouse with the heavy plastic cover which was decimated this winter, has been pieced together with wide tape. I will make new panels for it when the weather is warmer and I can dismantle the big broken one. That is up and in place, but its days are numbered. However, I can use the plastic to repair my little one, and the shelves around the garden, where some height for troughs is called for. I have little room on the ground left, so I am going UP.

There was a time when I thought gardens were a lot of trouble and we needed the space for the house, so my garden was halved. How could I have known how much gardening would mean to me in future days? How could I have understood the joy I would get from growing things? How could I have dreamed that the peace gardening brings me would soothe my soul? And how could I have thought of the fact that the food I grow would be so essential in frugal times?

Hmmmm. This is so true. We can't see into the future, or know how needs may change, can we. We live in the present. If I look back over the decades though, I can see patterns emerging which I could never have anticipated. Little things learned along the way which I remember now and can use, finally.

If I could build a home the way I would love to now, the plans I once drew up 20 years ago would be redundant. Now things like lofty ceilings, wood, triple glazing, geothermal energy, solar panels, insulation, wood burners and multi purpose space would be a priority. A craft room with walls of shelves too. And a store room big enough to take the boxes of seasonal things, of course! Energy efficient. Grey water. Space for woodwork. Ahhhhh........ dreams are good.

And the garden would be bigger. Not huge, but bigger. With room for my flowers, some fruit trees, and my vegetable garden. Maybe a proper little greenhouse.

Well. Reality is not so bad, though. I can still make my little corner beautiful and fruitful. And I will. It takes a lot more time nowadays, but one thing I did do which has made such a difference, was having raised beds behind retaining walls. So I can garden with relative ease. Pots are good, because I can plant them out on the table and then the hard part is done. Hanging baskets are easy to sort. The watering and feeding is simple.

I love the fact that my garden will grow in a new way each year. There will always be surprises, and usually ones that make me grin. (Providing that pesky rodent family have vacated the premises, of course. Mind you, there seems to be a black cat which has taken up residence on the top of my fence, so that is excellent. I hope he has friends. Many friends.)

Sigh. I am off to look for the other seeds. I want to get the planting order sorted. The sun will be shining all week..........

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Cars, coffee, and chats...........

My car is legal. It was a "gulp" moment. But at least it is legal and safe to drive, so that is good. By the time it came home, I was pacing about impersonating a prophet of doom, believe me. But the important thing is that I have wheels. Nice car. Good car. The fact that my mechanic could possibly afford to book for a week in Hawaii is beside the point. Well, sort of.

What are we told???? We will have enough. Enough for each day. And each day is what we need to bother ourselves with. Not the next 3 months. Remember this, Linds.

Moving on past wildly expensive motor vehicles......

The sun has shone today, and the service this morning at church was wonderful. Yesterday was a day spent with friends - well, Jean sent me a message to say that she had lit her woodburner in the morning, so I was over there as fast as I could get there. I LOVE fireplaces, and fires, and sitting watching the flames dance, while drinking coffee and chatting to a good friend at the same time sounds good to me. It was good.

I only left at all because another friend sent me an SOS - she needed a router installed and her laptop sorted, so I popped in there, on condition that there was a fire I could sit in front of, and played around. I also taught her how to use Facebook. So that was good too. There was more coffee and chat involved.

And that, my friends, has been the pattern of my weekend. The first daffodil in the garden is half open. The sun is doing its work. I would have done some garden stuff, only another friend had a birthday today, so I trundled along for more coffee. And cake. There is a coffee theme developing here.


I nearly forgot to tell you about my exciting chat!! A highlight of my week!! My lovely friend, Kelli, sent me a copy of Ann's book, which arrived on Friday, so I planned a phone call to her to say thank you. Well. I had to deal with some American woman who wanted a 10 digit identifying number, so I managed to sort that one after about 4 attempts, and then got an answer machine. Hmmm. Not quite what I was planning. So the second time I left a message saying I would call back. And I did. And for the first time, my friend and I talked on the phone together.

Most of you will know Kelli, and her wait for a donor kidney. I have been along for the ride since we first met over 4 years ago, and yet we had never talked. So this was special. Only her phone was expiring, so the call was cut short. And she was struggling with her breathing too, which was not good. But I called her back last night - after I woke from an unintentionally long nap on the couch - she was feeling a little better, and we managed to talk about every subject on earth, I believe.

It was such fun.

This world of ours brings some wonderful surprises - connections made which enrich all our lives. The benefits........ oh, I am SO glad I started pounding away here on the keyboard. You have all enriched my life immeasurably. And I am thankful for each and every one of you.

And Kelli....... we will chat again. We may just have missed out on one or two subjects......

Friday, March 04, 2011

The sun shines.......

Morning, my friends...... don't you like the lovely green wooden welcome sign? They happened to be unpacking them at our local bargain shop and I thought - Ooooh! It would look great at the front door! So I bought it. And I love it.

Ye olde chariot is off having its MOT today. For my non British friends, that is the legally required annual health check for all cars over 3 years old. Mine is considerably more than 3 years old and I am really really hoping that it flies through and doesn't have any disastrous ailments. Nice car. Good car. I actually got up at dawn and washed it and towelled it dry. So at least it looks is if it is a good fine car. Old, like its owner, but still on the move.
The snowdrops haven't quite opened yet.... I keep checking.

The sun, can you believe it, is trying to shine. Considering that the temps here have been hovering around 0C and below with the wind, this is a miracle. Weak, but sun nonetheless. I feel inspired to weed. And I have a couple of daffs which are about to burst into bloom - I watch them every day.

In fact, I am going out for a walk while it shines. I will be back in a while. Yes, I am taking my camera. I want to find some blossom along the way.......
I am back.

It is still very cold out there, but the sun is making everyone smile, and I had a lovely walk to Mill Lane at the edge of the village. This path meanders don the valley under the big road and down to the river and the lakes. I didn't go far down it today, but it is all so green and spring-like and the trees are all in bud, and it is just so exciting!!!

I sat for a while on the bench at the top of the lane, in the sun, and there was a bird singing away at the top of its voice close by. I couldn't see it anywhere, but I listened. It was so beautiful. And then, when I got up to start walking again, there it was high in the tree, a little robin. Such a loud voice for such a little thing.....

It is the little things, people, the little things, which make all the difference in this world.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Yesterday was quite a day. What I didn't mention until my son had finished his very important presentation which is part of his dissertation today, was that yesterday morning, my sister's beloved dog, Naxos, died. The family was, and is, distraught. Naxos was not just a dog. He was their boy. And there has never been a tossed away and forgotten dog quite like him.

That was how his life began, you see. But it didn't end that way. Oh no.

He was rescued from a beach on the island of Naxos in Greece 15 years ago, where he had been foraging on the sands, looking for anything to eat. Old tissues were a staple. And then dreams beyond his wildest imaginings came true, and he was rescued. And spent the rest of his life living like prince. In Switzerland. He had a family and they adored him. A huge garden to play in, and plenty of love and attention. He rode chair lifts, and cablecars. He had mountains to romp over, streams to splash in, snow to roll in, and parents who thought he was the absolute best doggie in the world. Not to mention the fact that his Daddy would cook him special meals at times. How many rescued dogs end up with their own personal chefs? Naxos did.

He hated fireworks, loved treats, loved eating toilet rolls, loved Hugo his bear, loved eating rubbish - actually tearing open the bags after opening the door and spreading the contents over the floor, growling at his aunt (moi)(Because I once trod on his tail more than a decade ago - he had a memory like an elephant), and hated being brushed.

But most of all, he loved his Daddy. Adored him.

Missy thought he was wonderful too and loved trying to get him to bark. Mum adored him. Marge and Peter........ well, this is a really hard time for them. Love is a powerful thing. And believe me, Naxos was loved. But better, always, to love with all your heart, and then face the heartbreak than to never risk loving at all.

Pets are very special. And then there are some who are more than just a pet. Like Nax. They are part of the family - an very important part. Actually, Nax always made sure we remembered that it was HIS house. HIS couch. HIS Mummy. HIS Daddy. But he was happy to share. Well, there was always a race to see who got to the couch first, actually. He would prostrate himself over the couch I always sat on as soon as I entered the room. Hilarious. He and Jean also did battle for the right to sit in the sun. He got tangled in her knitting more than once in an effort to hog the sun, and there was much laughter as he was chased while trying to hold the knitting and grab the wool from round his feet.

He died surrounded by the people who he loved, and so, so much love.

Their home feels empty right now. Quiet.

And it hurts.

So, you can see why yesterday really was a day I would rather not have to repeat. Ever. My doggie nephew was special. He has left a hole in quite a few hearts. Like mine.

(David says his presentation was "OK", by the way. Ok sounds just fine. And I dragged myself out the door to a rehearsal last night. Distraction was good. )

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The bunting is up.......

Welcome to my home in its Spring regalia!
Sky News on the TV. You will see why lower down the page.......

The bunting is done and up and it looks Spring-like so I am happy!

This is one of the birds and butterflies I have clipped on to the little fibre-optic tree which stays up all yes. basically because I have nowhere to put it, but then I started decorating it for the seasons and now it is part of what I do. Christmas is Christmas, of course, and then the rest of Winter is red gingham bows. This is Spring, and when Easter comes, it will also have Easter decorations on it, although my real Easter tree will be at the front door. Then in Summer, there will be the birds and butterflies and flowers too. Autumn has all the Autumn leaves, and little pumpkins etc on it, and there you have it. An all year round tree.
See? It looks much nicer in real life, though!
I would like to restart today. March.
It has not got off to a stellar start. It is grey and cold yet again, and getting the news that there was an earthquake in Wellington this morning did not help either, but I spoke to my daughter and she is just fine. She did say that she broke all records getting out of pjs and into jeans though.

And then I popped along to have my 3 monthly chat to my GP and decided that she needed to actually see my knee, so I wore a skirt. Now wearing a skirt is a nightmare because it brushes against my leg as I have mentioned before, so that was not a great start. Then, in my warped wisdom, I said it was ok for her to touch or prod the knee. So she did. And after that I could not string 2 coherent words together, my head nearly exploded, and I walked out bordering on hysteria, got to the car and sat there and howled for what seemed like ages.
Then I came home. To my lovely Spring house. And I am about to go and curl up on the couch and pretend I am in some warm and sunny place with palm trees swaying and the sound of waves breaking on the beach. They call it mind over matter visualisation.
It better work. .