Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The fun grannies have...........

Hello. I will skip the fact that Mother has another abcess on her gum, Marge's computer was struck by lightning and died a miserable death, and that summer is almost over. I know. I saw autumnal leaves today. And I will dwell instead on the fact that granddaughters are SO much fun.

Missy is hilarious.From the early morning bellow "HELLO down air.....Missy coming down a stairs" (We were sleeping downstairs) to the "Night night, Norganny, see you in a morning", she was a delight. Sure, there were a few tantrums, the girlie is 2, after all, but there were far more giggles and smiles. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun she had trying to knit. That means Norganny was knitting, so Missy ran to get to flags from her golf set (plastic sticks) and announced that she was going to knit too. So she dug the sticks into the middle of my ball of wool and yanked thwool out  and tried to get it to stay on the sticks This went on until Norganny reached the end of her row and downed tools. Then spent hours untangling the ball of wool. If I tried to sneak a row in, the child's radar kicked in and back she raced to find her sticks "Missy knit too, Norganny!!!"

So the knitting did not get very far. At all. But the fun just grew. She did my hair with the same knitting sticks. There were lego towers and trains, dolly pram races. Picnics.Tea parties. The golf set was a great hit, Crystal, and she got the two handed idea rapidly. It is amazing how quickly little ones learn, isn't it......


I have loved playing with her.

I am using David's old laptop.The one with the letterless keys, which stick. The one which skips letters. The one where the return key fails to return. It is doing my head in, people. I cannot tell you how long I have been sitting here trying to write something coherent. I have spent three times as long trying to fill the gaps and make sense of what I have written. So that will do for today.

I will be back.

PS: I am, however, very thankful I have a live computer to bash away on. Defects and all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oaths and water and other random stuff.......

First, just let me say that no, I will not be going to the 40th reunion in November. South Africa is quite far down the "where I want to go next" list. New Zealand is at the top. Actually, it is first, second, third, fourth.... you get the picture. I have a daughter I want to visit, so the old school friends do not even get a remote chance. That is the past. I am looking to the future.

And the present too, of course.
Today I had to go and visit another lawyer, and sign things and swear oaths. She actually asked me if I minded putting my hand on the Bible. I wonder what the options would have been if I had said that I minded. But I didn't. I grinned and said I was very familiar with the Bible, and that it was no problem at all. A pleasure, in fact. So that was sorted and posted and I dusted the hands. Done.
Home to try to restore some order to the domestic chaos which seems to be the norm at the moment, and then I dragged on the bathing costume and Jean and I headed off to aquarobics again. I cannot begin to tell you how much I LOVE going to the classes. We were relaxing in the spa afterwards with some of the other ladies in the class, and I said that I really cannot see this as a luxury. It is so important to me right now. I am working on getting fitter, and the exercise is working wonders on my psyche if nothing else. Yet. It is essential "taking care of me" time. And I am complying with the doctors' orders (more than one doctor). It is hard, believe me. But the sense of accomplishment is wonderful when I make it through the class. I do what I can, but every time, I get to do more and more. That is a great feeling.

And it helps me sleep too.

Life would be so simple if we could just focus on the good things, the nice things, wouldn't it?

But reality is not simple. Hence the oaths and signatures, and papers and STUFF.
But then, there are the roses, and the flowers, and the garden, and the blue skies. Did I say blue skies?????? We had blue skies today. For a couple of hours. And then the black clouds of doom re-appeared. You know the ones, they promise rain, and then just sit there casting a grey pall over the land. And me. They must either do their thing, or vacate the skies. And at this very moment, I hear the pitter patter  thunder of rain falling. Finally. After I watered the garden.

And tomorrow......... well, tomorrow I get to play with dollies. :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An A4 sheet on which to write my story.......

The sounds of a home are what I hear right now - the woosh woosh of the washing machine as it cleans the bed linen, the whir of the tumble drier,  the sound of gentle rain drops on the skylights of the kitchen (hence the whirring of the drier), the click of my fingers as they fly (stagger) over the computer keys, the ticking of the clock on the wall, the soft rumble of boiling water in the kettle, the sizzle of bratwurst cooking on the stove, the soft murmur of voices from the TV and the ring, now and then, of the phone.

An ordinary day. A comfortable day. The sound of the pen scratching through things on the ever present "to do" list.

Yesterday, I wrote a brief synopsis of my life from age 17-57 for the 40th School Reunion booklet being prepared for the November gathering  in South Africa. There will be many with a great number of accomplishments to relate. Interesting women. Daring women. Trail-blazers. Wonder women.



This is how I started it........

No great achievements here, girls – no awards, fancy bits or starring roles. I never did head a fortune 500 company either. Nor did I grace the runways of fashion houses (at this point I am bordering on hysteria here at the thought). No.

I have lived an ordinary life, which has included both hemispheres. I have travelled, seen a great deal, experienced more, and along the way, I raised 3 children which I count as my greatest achievement, and one which makes me very proud. My life is good, and filled with a million things for which I am deeply thankful. 

There have been spectacular “ups” and monumental “downs”. But retaining the ability to laugh, to believe, to hope, and a commitment to go and enjoy each and every moment of my days – these are what have shaped my life. Faith. Family. Friends. 

And then I wrote about other things. The things I love. The people who matter. Assessing one's life on an A4 page. Well. I have never had a problem dreaming up words. It is getting them to stop which is the problem.  The content is another story. 

I wonder what everyone else will write? I was speaking to a friend who is contemplating retirement one day in the not too distant future, and this was a comment made - "My work seems to define who I am. I have spent all my working life giving 150% to my job." I understand that. I have also always been unable to simply do what I have been expected to do. Paid or not. I have put in endless unpaid hours trying to be better, do more, and do the best I could possibly do. 

Take it away, and who is left? What is left? 

I know that when my father retired, he made it about a couple of months before he was back at work in an "advisory" capacity for supposedly 3 hours a day. He worked normal hours for him - 8am-5pm, 6pm, or maybe later. And got paid for 3 hours a day, but he was happy. His work defined who he was. 

So my chosen career, at 22, was that of mother. And I probably put in more than 150%. And it defined who I am too. It still does. There were no contracted office hours. Actually, the small print may have said something about life, but I was too busy being a mother to read it. I tried to do more than my best. I knew just what was riding on it, and it was the most important thing in the world. To me. ultimately, to my children as well.

The hobbies, and skills I have now were acquired along the way, alongside the mothering skills. Andrew needed exercise books stitched together. You can stitch paper? Really? Let's experiment. Diana needed her name embroidered on her sport shirts. Get a book and learn how, and ooh look, there are more fascinating stitches. Let's try some. The children wanted bright sweatshirts - so why don't I buy an overlocker (serger) and learn how to zap them up? David needs to have a Power Ranger costume, Diana needs a chicken costume, double-sided sticky tape is great for covering school books, but why don't I try fabric covered notebooks, Andrew wants a castle party....

And so the fanciful cakes happened by trial and error. I took cake icing classes. My friends and I taught each other. The clothes were made, the scraps used to make quilts, and so it all began. Because I was a mother. 

Now I am just talking about me here, but so many things the children were interested in triggered interests for me too, which became passions and delights. And then there was the house which needed to be altered to fit us all in, the garden, and so it went. More skills because I needed to make our home somewhere my family could enjoy being in. The books came and stayed. The machines came and stayed. The skills were fine-tuned and grow and keep growing. 

I taught myself to crochet last year because I wanted a ripple blanket. And then my daughter wanted a hat, and so I taught myself how to crochet a hat. There is no signing out time to motherhood. The hours don't count. I learned along with my children, and I hope they will keep doing the same with their kids too. 

I see my daughter-in-law baking with Missy and I grin, because there you are - motherhood in action. Not just one cake now and then, but regular baking and fun and enjoyment, and skills which keep growing for both of them. Daring to try something new and different, and finding what works, and what you want to forget too. There have been plenty of non-starters in my life. But, as I said, trial and error. You don't know until you try. . 

My work defines who I am too. Who I have become. And in a sense, this could be the time when I "retire" sort of, from full time motherhood. However, all those years of learning and growing - they are what fill my days now. Those skills. There is never enough time in a day.

Every job we do, whether paid or unpaid gets to define a huge part of who we are, doesn't it? Our character, the fibre inside us. Just as long as there is some balance in there, and the focus remains on the most important things in our lives - the people - then I reckon we are doing really well.  

So I will read about everyone with delight and interest but I have nothing to be ashamed of either. I have had a great job, and I have given it everything I had to give and more. 

And loved every moment. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Procrastination is my middle name......

The sun is shining.

I went to pilates, and lived.

And yet, here we are at 2 something pm, and the to do list has not been dented. I would rather sleep, actually. There was not much of that going on here last night. Isn't it funny how I can drop off when on the couch, and yet, climb into bed and..... forget it. It does not happen.

So I am pottering. Dead-heading. Making coffee. Looking at the list, and then doing more pottering.

Yesterday was very busy. I was on coffee duty at church with Jean, and I knew I was going to a lunch time birthday party for a friend (and taking a cake) so I got up early and made a blackberry cake, and then discovered that the oven was covered with chicken fat after the chicken I roasted the night before exploded all over the place. Gross. So I had to clean it first, which threw my finely honed timetable into disarray totally, and I played catch up for the rest of the morning.

But everything got done eventually, and church was good and coffee duty went well, and then I popped along to the party, and only got home when my body decided to go on strike at about 5.30. The staying power is history. As is my youth, it seems.

However, I did get to watch Tripoli fall to the rebels on the news at 2am. Well, almost fall. The president remains to be found. The sort of stuff which puts you to sleep? Maybe not. More like sitting bolt upright in bed watching with wide eyes. I did resist the urge to make more coffee, though, in the hope that sleep would come.

There is not a great deal of news to relate, I have to confess. Life poddles on as usual, and I am trying to get the last paper thingys done before I have a total break from it all. I think it is time to play with little girls, don't you? Little ones who LOVE "hink" (pink). And who have gorgeous grins and infectious giggles. And dollies, and lego and books, and pots and pans, and jungle gyms and scooters........

And "Norganny" is ready to play.

I could also do with a break from the apple, bean and tomato glut. I become quite frantic about saving it all, you know - making sure the waste is minimal, and it is getting out of hand. A little perspective would be appropriate right now. There is no space left in the freezer, and I cannot justify buying another one at the moment. That would make the apples the most expensive in history.

A little quilting, a little knitting, maybe a little crocheting, perhaps. I may even attempt another book. This sounds like a holiday to me. That is good.

And then it will be September. Time is marching on relentlessly.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The week disappeared under paper.......

The failure of summer to show up around here this year is my fault. I just knocked over the sun umbrella which has been propping up the corner of my kitchen wall ever since I bought it, and remembered that it has not seen the light of day since I took off the wrapper. We had sun in April, so I bought a new sun umbrella - remember the old one was gnawed on by something with teeth in the shed??? And ever since I bought it, the hot weather and the sun has gone awol.

I should never have bought a sun umbrella.

I wonder if it is waterproof?

I am still here. I had a call from the lawyer asking for a paper. Hahahahaha. And there I was, relaxing thinking life could be getting a little less complicated. 2 days later and the filing cabinet has been emptied, I have been buried under the contents, have sorted and tossed out, and I have MOUNTAINS of papers waiting to be shredded.

I also rediscovered a running away letter from my youngest, written when he was 5, I think. "Dear famelliy I am running a way becos you all hate me. " Well. I get distracted easily, you see, and in a flash, I was back in 199something, remembering the little one marching out the door with his backpack. I showed it to him when I found it, and we laughed. He says he remembers getting to the Knoll round the corner. I seem to remember offering to make him a peanut butter sandwich to take with him........

And then there were all the letters to Father Christmas. The letters I had received over the years. The bills from 19whatsit. The rubbish. And WHY DO I NEVER THROW AWAY THE ENVELOPES WHEN I OPEN LETTERS? Do you have any idea how much room 49,349,723,625,729,040,478 letters in envelopes use? I never learn. So now I have umpteen bags of papers to shred, but I am too scared to do it until the legal thing is really over, just in case there is something there which someone needs. Like a gas bill from 1992. Well, maybe not. But you never know. I am absolutely NOT sorting the shredding pile into need little categories. No way. My home decorating is enhanced by piles of shopping bags filled with papers.

So it took a little time. And I never did find the paper. However, a call to the lawyer yesterday resolved the issue. She can live without it. Hmmmm. Breathe, Linds. Oh well. The filing cabinet is done. And I'm still playing with the scanner slide thing too.

In the evenings....oh, around 10pm, after the paper searching,  I have crawled onto the couch and done a little sewing, only I forgot to tape my fingers on my right hand, so now they are sort of hole-y and swollen and sore. I forget so many things. Sigh. I have found the micropore stuff. I will use it. Leaving copious quantities of my DNA on the things I sew is not exactly part of my plan.

And just before I go to bed, I make myself knit 6 rows of my knitting project. I am not thrilled with the colour of the wool (I had it in the stash, so I used it) and it is not my greatest delight. Actually, maybe I should knit today and forget the sewing. The hands may heal a little. And I can't (won't) start the next wool project until this one is finished, so it needs to get done.

So that is what I have been doing. David's laptop misbehaved during the Great Paper Search, so there have been quite a few dramatic moments around these parts. However, after 2 days of copying and backing up and a million other computery things, he restored it to factory settings and life is all peachy again.

And talking of peachy things, that brings me to the fruit glut I am now in the middle of here. Friends with orchards deposit huge bags of apples, plums, damsons, blackberries on my doorstep....... my kitchen is full of them. And I have no freezer space. In fact, I looked at some freezers after aqua on Thursday with Jean. That was hilarious. Neither of us remember to take wallets or bags with us, so we hobbled into the appliance shop and really did "just look" at everything. I even played with an iPad again. It is slowly climbing up the dream list.

So today, Saturday, I have to do something with the fruit. And the washing machine has just beeped, so I need to go and hang that outside.

Wasn't I cute? I emailed this to my kids - Missy is exactly the same age now that I was in the photo, and the obsession with bags is obviously genetic. She adores bags. So, it appears, did her Moregranny. I haven't really cleaned the slide thoroughly yet, or edited it. But it is such fun to see the images of my very distant childhood here on the screen.

Oh - I meant to say - I wish you could have seen me skyping with her a couple of days ago. She had made a "choo-choo train" with her Duplo, and we had all the sounds as well as we skyped. Then she put her two little chairs in front of each other, and I said - oh look - a train! Well. We played trains. Just like I used to play trains with her Dad, and all his little friends. We had long trains back then. The dollies were lined up - the train was lined up in front of the TV set so I was in the back, or driving, depending on which way she wanted us to go. We had whistles, chugging actions, doors opening and great fun.

Even if I was many miles away.

I did tell her Mum how I used to turn the play table upside down and make boats too. Broomstick, paper sail....... Memories trigger more memories.....

Yes, washing machine.. I am coming.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer is slowly fading........

 My garden is slowing down - a sure sign that summer will be over soon, much though I do not want to admit it. I am at the yanking out and hacking back stage. The apples are ripening and looking great on my apple tree......
 The tomatoes too - they are starting to ripen fast.

And my roses have burst into the fifth flowering this year. Never ever have I had so many roses. I wanted to show you my pink rose tree bush again. It is over 7feet tall, even though I prune it drastically each year. It shoots up to the skies and just keeps going every year. This year, it has been covered in roses.
 And then, while I was watering one day, I noticed that under all the leaves, there at the base, there has been a sudden amazing new growth. There are 50 - yes, I counted - 50 rose buds so far under the tall branches, and they are starting to flower. It is just amazing. I go and check them each day just to make sure I have not imagined it. This has never happened before. Fantastic! Oh - and there are at least another 50 buds up at the top of the branches too.

 David took this photo of me in the garden, amidst all the colour. Everything is now twice as tall, of course. The photo is a few weeks old but I forgot to download it. Do not ask how long it took to get up from that step.
 It has been a lovely garden this year. But it is past its prime. I love autumn, but I will miss the colour. Sigh. I am having to sweep up the falling leaves and petals more now. Those peas need to come out too. Tomorrow. Maybe.
Jean and I went to pilates this morning, followed by aqua. We were crazy. I was definitely flagging by the end of it, but it did feel good after the excesses of the weekend and 2 days of sitting and doing the slides. I have not done any today - too busy doing the other necessities of life. Oh, and stewing more apples for the freezer. And chatting to Julia,. who popped in. And watering with David. And........

The sun shone for half the day today. A lovely surprise. Did you see that Wellington in NZ had snow yesterday for the first time in over 40 years?? My daughter was very very excited. And a little chilly too. It even made our national news here in the UK.

I hear that Costco have their Christmas things in already.......

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Old slides.......

I have NO idea where the past 2 days have disappeared to. Well, I do really - I have been obsessed with a little piece of electronic wizardry Ros brought me, actually. A slide to pc scanner. She bought it, and then discovered that the one she got only worked with Vista or XP systems, so she couldn't use it, and so she very kindly offered it to me. OH YES PLEASE!!!

In the interests of my on-going (feeble) attempts at de-cluttering, the mountains of boxes of slides are up there near the top of the "what the heck do I do with all of these things" list. So, while the boys slept yesterday morning, I opened the box, read the instructions (I am a woman - we believe in instructions sheets) and off I went.

I am still going.


I have discovered that, when Andrew was born and we were ready to leave the nursing home, I just got into the front seat of the car, and the nun passed my baby to me, and we drove home with him in my arms. There were no car seats in those days. But it was a Sunday, and the shops didn't open back then. There were few cars on the road. Whatever. It was how things were done back then. And I was wearing heels. What was I thinking?? I was just 22 of course.

I also remember that, at that moment, I had never:

  1. changed his nappy
  2. given him a bath
  3. done anything except feed him
It is a miracle either or both of us survived.

And I also discovered that my father's obsession with photography was restricted to overseas holidays. There are thousands of scenic slides yet to be waded through, looking for the one or two with a human in them to keep, but in the same box as my wedding photos, there are 3 slides of me on the float at the university Rag procession 4 years prior to The Wedding. He did not take many family snaps, apparently. I think he may have taken to digital photography with a vengeance, though, had he lived a little longer. Unfortunately, not while I was growing up. 

But when I went through the wedding ones, I found some beautiful photos I don't remember ever seeing before.

 We looked so young......Who am I trying to kid - I was young. Just 21. Geoff had just turned 33, but he looked so young too........
 And oh, I cannot tell you how hot it was that day. Blisteringly hot.

Nostalgia is good.

And here is the one of me on the float. It was the YMCA one, and it was something to do with Those Magnificent men in their Flying Machines. I almost didn't recognise my 17 year old self.

I will add more photos once I have edited them, and flipped them and cropped them and generally made them presentable. But the bulk I have been through, belong to Geoff. Boxes and boxes of slides, labelled Hong Kong,. Singapore, Retainer, Seychelles, Australia, Kenya, Tsavo National Park, more Hong Kong, more Seychelles, Jamaica, Bahamas, Borneo, Philippines..........

The man went everywhere. And those are just a few of the boxes. Unfortunately, out of all those mountains photos, the sum total of photos of him comes to 17. He never did see the need for, or master the art of, taking a photo of himself in all those places. These photos were all taken long before I knew him. When I started high school, he was sailing the seven seas, discovering new places and learning new customs, and lying on the beach in the Seychelles. Or having a BBQ on the coast of north Borneo. The great thing is that the photos are all of him at a similar age to my children right now. The earliest one is of him at 24, and David is 22. But the kids can see their Dad in his early 20s. 

There is hardly a place he had not been to, either in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, or in the Safmarine/Maersk days. So when he came home on holiday, he thoroughly enjoyed staying at home, completely forgetting that I had been at home for the previous 9 months, and would have LOVED a holiday away now and then. Ah well - we did get to travel with him, of course. But I am talking about the family on holiday. All together. That didn't happen many times, but when it did, it was really great.

So, I had better get back to the little scanner thingy. It also has an attachment for negatives too. I may be here for the foreseeable future............ 

Friday, August 12, 2011

My kind of day.....

The weekend is almost here, and tomorrow is Saturday. I wonder what the day will bring......

Today feels like a Saturday too, actually. This morning, my friend came round, and we talked quilts, crochet, Molly Makes and life in general. And decided what quilt she will be making for her soon-to-be-born granddaughter. Exciting times, She is coming back soon to cut out the quilt and learn how to pin it too. I love having company in my sewing room - I get to show my friends how to do the things I love doing, and then I carry on sewing at the machine while they get started. I am there to help when needed but I get to chat while I sew, and that is wonderful. There is always some project waiting for attention!

Watering patrol for a few gardens with David (who also slapped a coat of paint on the door, as promised) this afternoon and then we had unexpected, but very welcome visitors from Scotland. The creative part of me was slightly stretched, but Ros and I managed to concoct a delicious meal from the combined contents of the fridge, garden and cupboards. Ros was my first friend here in the village, and even though they moved to Scotland 11 years ago, we have remained the best of friends. Working together and chatting and laughing as we did (and as I managed to slice my fingers not once but TWICE - just as well she was here to open the box of plasters) reminded us of the many family meals we have shared over the years. The ease with which old friends glide through our lives is a wonderful thing. Through, alongside - just there.

So that made my evening, I have to say. Lots of chatter and laughter, and memories recalled. And we have an over night guest - their son is here in my living room - I can hear the boys chatting and laughing  as they watch TV together. They have known each other virtually all their lives. I remember them as little boys - David was only 15 months when we met. A lifetime ago.

So the grin is still in place. It is a good feeling.

It has been yet another grey humid, un-summery day here in Middle England. The promise of rain has yet to materialise, and summer is almost at an end. Summer? Did I say summer? There has been no summer here this year. Scotland has had record rainfall, but down here, the rain just never came. And yet the heat and sun never came either. But the garden has grown, and seems to keep growing. The tomatoes are ripening now and the beans (we ate a lot tonight) are prolific. I will have to get out there and pick the peas and see what else is waiting to be harvested. I like that word. Harvest.

But I can do that tomorrow. It is Saturday, after all!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No more paperwork for a little while.....

It is late and I should be in bed.

The enormous envelope full of vital papers, covered with those horrible calculations are en route to the lawyer, and so help me, she called this afternoon, just as I was sending her a text to tell her they were done. This was after yet another letter from her had arrived today, asking for more papers, which, thank heavens, I had right here on the desk, so she will probably pass out from shock in the morning when they thud on to her desk. Such an instant response is not something she has come to expect from moi.

So I went to another aqua class at dawn with Glynis. Oh, how I love these classes. They are wonderful, and our teacher yells "Smile" every now and then (along with "Breathe- don't forget to breathe!") while we are gritting the teeth and attempting contortions in the water. You can't help but grin. And go back for more the next day.

The weather has been changeable. In the truest sense. Torrential rain for 20 seconds, and then it stops. The wind blows things over then stops. The sun shines for 30 seconds, then stops. Repeat. So the washing stays indoors, and so do I, apart from the garden watering, of course. The torrential rain dries before it reaches the water butts, much to my dismay. I keep checking.

I popped into town this afternoon, after posting the evil letter, because I heard there was a 75% off sale at my favourite cheap bargain shop, but (insert mournful face here) there was nothing I needed. So I bought envelopes, a chocolate (reward for posting the letter) and a small tin of paint and came home. I have informed my son that he is to paint the door tomorrow. Holidays are all very well, but there is STUFF to be done.

And then I headed for the sewing room and actually got out the embroidery machine. I even plugged it in. I love this machine - I programme it and thread it, and off it goes, and I go and make coffee while it sews for me. Perfect. I will do some more in the morning. I have a friend coming to learn how to make a patchwork quilt. That I can do.

It is really hard to relax, you know. I have been so tightly wound up for the past few weeks that I am almost brittle. Sewing this afternoon was the first relaxing thing I have let myself do for what seems like a long time. Well, apart from the head massage yesterday, but that was before I had to go and re-jig a whole lot of figures, so that wore off very fast.  And sleep remains illusive. But maybe tonight it will be easier, now that the papers have been evicted from my house.

My daughter, by the way, says she has made THAT cake - the one I have been trying variations of for the past few weeks , and she used peaches and says it is delicious. Another one to try. If you haven't made it yet, do try it - I can almost guarantee it will become a favourite. It certainly is around these parts. Hmmm. I have strawberries in the fridge. Maybe a strawberry one tomorrow........

I am off to bed now. I will be back.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Saturdays......

The fires still burn and my rage has not abated. Just so you know.

Last weekend, I said that Saturdays were my favourite day of the week. They are, you know. I LOVE Saturdays. For me, they are days which seem to be bursting with energy. Days when everyone is around, and the possibilities are endless, days when sport is the norm, gardens are full of activity, laughter rings out, like the doorbell, and there is always something to do. Maybe even going out for breakfast, who knows. The height of luxury for me.

Sundays are days which are more prescribed, because the mornings consist of church, and then there is always the fact that Monday seems to be racing towards us at supersonic speed, and I get preoccupied by the lists of things waiting for me to get to grips with as the new week gets going. I know they are the day of rest, or are supposed to be, but Sundays have a different feel. On Saturday, you always know that Sunday will follow, and you can rest. The energy, remember......

I love waking on Saturday morning, lying in bed a little longer than usual, and pondering what I will be doing.  I do know that millions don't get to do this - they work on Saturdays, like my sister and brother-in-law - they work Sundays too. And I also know that this will all seem really strange, because I am not working right now, and in a sense, you may think - what is the woman talking about - she can choose what to do any day. It doesn't quite work that way, though, believe me. There is a a great deal I get to wade through. But not on a Saturday. So my Saturdays are special right now.

If the weather is good, there is the garden to factor in - there is always work to be done out there, but that is fun for me and always a highlight. I love being out there.I love chatting to the neighbours over the fence too. And then I think - right - let's freeze some vegetables, maybe bake something, pop down to the village for coffee if it is the Traidcraft coffee morning, go for a little walk, start a new project, make new lists, sort out a cupboard....  And often someone pops in here for a coffee when they are out walking.

Being at home is my best bit. I love being home. So I may cut out some new fabric project, or do some machine embroidery, or send my son into the loft to haul down more boxes, or play with wood, sand or paint, or maybe I will just curl up on the couch with a book or my crochet hook..... the options are endless. I love it. And then, in summer, we may have a BBQ in the evening, and sit outside as the light starts fading (if it is not raining, of course!) and just enjoy the moment.

Saturdays are smiley days, you see. The cares of the previous week are left behind, and cares of the new week can wait. Business people and lawyers are all away from the office, so there is no way they can intrude on the day. It is one day - one little day when I get to choose what to do. And if the weather is foul, as it often is here, well, then nearly all of the best bits I have talked about work in just perfectly. The house may smell of cut roses, and sweetpeas, and freshly baked cake, and coffee - and there will be "stuff" going on.

Oh yes. I love my Saturdays. There should be more of them.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Warning...a mega rant......

I am officially a member of the older generation.

I took one look at the appalling rioting in London yesterday and am now watching police dispersing more rampaging youths again tonight, while listening to people try to explain why it is "all the government's fault", and these young thugs/hoodlums - well...apparently it is not their fault. Nothing ever is. WHAT??

Oh, give me strength.

Call in the army. Bring in the water canons. Or, as my friend's 90 something year old mother says, spray the lot of them with gentian violet and then round them up over the next 2 weeks before the purple wears off. Looting. Homes and cars and businesses destroyed. People's lives wrecked.

There is NO EXCUSE for wanton destruction.

There is NO EXCUSE for looting.

There is NO EXCUSE for violence.

Where is the respect? The justice? The law? The order? Do not come to me with "people have lost trust in the police". "People have no jobs". OH?? So that is reason to take a trolley of goods from a store including a plasma TV???????? I don't have a plasma TV. In fact, I do not know anyone who does. Everyone has a choice about how they act. These hoodlums young people have choices. They are making the wrong ones. And now I am listening to party politicians sniping at each other, and I want to scream, because this nonsense HAS TO STOP.

Some kids grow up with no respect, yet with the expectation that they can have everything they want without any effort on their part. They are taught their rights, but not that with those rights comes responsibility. I used to teach some like them. You have no idea. I see hundreds of young people on TV as I write, taunting the police and running around with hoodies on, trying to obscure their faces, and WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS????????

And the opposition politician says............ they have nowhere to go. WHAT???? They can go HOME. My kids did not need entertainment out every night. They were not there out on the street loitering, causing trouble. And get this, my kids had a Dad who was away 9 months of the year. They didn't live in a "normal" ideal family It was different. They had friends round to our home, and they had a huge amount of fun RIGHT HERE, WHERE I COULD KEEP AN EYE ON THEM.

You may have caught the idea that I am:
  1. irate
  2. shouting
  3. beyond frustrated
  4. angry
  5. did I mention IRATE??????
I am a parent. I believe a parent has work to do, and that work revolves around delivering a law abiding, respected and respectful child into the world as an adult. I get 18+ years to do this. Until then, I need to nurture, monitor, guide, and love him or her, and make sure he or she keeps on the straight and narrow, learns the difference between right and wrong, and how to make good choices. This is what parents get to do. I believe in standing up for what you believe in - including taking part in PEACEFUL protests. I did just that as a student. But violence????? Oh no. Never. Ever. No. Way. 

Arson? Shudder.

I do not need to hear about social deprivation. Nor do I need to hear about "poor kids". They all have mobile phones, and apparently cars at their disposal right now (on TV). And, apparently, a great deal more disposable income than I have. What gives them the right to run as a pack of wild animals? Threatening older people?

Lock them all up and toss away the key.

As I said at the start of this mega rant, I am now a member of the older generation. The generation who was raised right. It is not about race or ethnicity or class or education. It is about very very bad decisions made by out of control kids with no respect for law and order, who should now have to suffer the consequences of their actions. 

Friday, August 05, 2011

An all day sort of post.....

Plunging stock markets, dollar at an all time low to the Swiss Franc, polar bear killed a British school boy...... the world is not a happy place at the moment. And I haven't mentioned unemployment rates, soaring prices, or the weather.


I have been trying to write a post for most of the day, and I have deleted thousands of words, had a major rant and then thought better of it, and am now sitting here with a big blank where the words once were. However, it was very satisfying to write them down. I start on something and then go and wander round the garden. delete, write some more, wander round the kitchen. Delete. Sigh.

My brain has gone on holiday. Unfortunately, it left the rest of me behind.

So here are a few things to ponder....

  • What did you want to be when you grew up? Or...what DO you want to be when you grow up? (Age is irrelevant.)
  • Do you think that a blog called ALL ACCESS should restrict book giveaways to only US readers? All access? Maybe the name should change.
  • Do you have a dehydrator and is it worth buying?
  • What are you watching on TV?
Ah, I think this would amuse some of you - I was listening to a radio programme which was discussing new governmental directives for early years monitoring of children. You can read about it here . They have a new 5 point plan, which apparently includes praise and affirmation. One wonderful caller raised a pertinent issue the government appears to have missed. That if little Johnny is raised on praise and affirmation alone, he will have a really tough time in life. Praise and affirmation are essential, of course - I really do believe that. However, balance is also important. Little Johnny needs to recognise that he can be wrong, make mistakes, be disobedient, and that there are consequences he has to learn to deal with before he hits the classroom. Like discipline. Rules. Respect. And all over the land, teachers were cheering. So was I. 

Too often, kids are raised believing that they are perfect and can do no wrong, and that the universe clearly revolves around them, and finding out that it doesn't is a bit of a shock. A mega shock. One ex head teacher raised some valid points here . 

But you know what, it starts so much earlier than that. What if, instead of one or 2 ante-natal classes the week before the baby was due which is the norm now), young first time mums, instead, went to weekly classes for 6 months, which included antenatal exercises, feeding and caring for children, early years development, and everything that encompasses? Other mums could bring their babies to the class once they had given birth, and the actual reality would go a long way to making things easier for them later . 

You see, the single greatest problem is that there are no longer older Mums around to help or guide any more. Sally Clarkson raised this issue last week. Here in the UK, people either have to work (the government wants every single person to work, including mothers of young children) and that means Grannies are also at work now, instead of being around to teach and help. The cost of living, or most specifically, housing, means both parents have to work, so child minders or nursery staff have more contact with young children. And modern day demographics mean that families go where the work is and all live hundreds of miles from each other. 

It is a recipe for disaster. 

The extended family no longer exists. Children need time and love, and parents who understand the responsibility which comes with raising a child to adulthood. Stay at home Mums need enormous respect, instead of derisory comments. Being a mother is a career. I heard someone say "when I embarked on the career of motherhood..." and it was like a siren going off in my head. It is a career. One of the toughest in the world.


I got on that soapbox again, didn't I. Right. Enough for now. I did not intend writing any of this, but enough is enough and I am going to watch NCIS. 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Apples, shimmying and other such stuff....

Morning, all....

The BBQ was great, and the monsoon like rain arrived just as we all finished eating out in the garden under the trees. The garden looked wonderful, with tables and chairs set up all around it - my friends have a very large garden! So there was a dash for the indoors, and that was where the older ones among us spent the rest of the evening. Some insect decided to eat my arms, so I now look as though I have the plague with a few large red bite marks which itch like crazy. But I have some (totally ineffectual) cream for that.

And the garden back here is looking a little subdued after the rain. Torrential stuff. Actually, it is lying down at the moment. I did go out earlier to see what needed doing, but it is all too wet and, as it is supposed to be very hot today, I will wait till later to go and chop and check. By then it may have sprung back into place. Or not.

I managed to stew a huge pot of apples and one of plums yesterday, for the freezer. I really must learn how to bottle things. I say this every year. I do not have a big freezer, and there is nowhere to put one, but I could manage bottles. There is another even larger bag of apples on the kitchen counter waiting to be done as I speak. These apples are huge. And so early. But when they start falling off the tree, you forget the date, and start cooking, don't you. Exactly. I have this vision of apple pies in winter. I also got a bag of blackberries, so I may just make another raspberry/blueberry cake, but using the blackberries instead. Before it gets too hot. In fact, I am going to go and sit at the counter and do that now,and start peeling apples too. Yesterday, I was doing that in the heat of the day. Not clever. One does not want to be stewing stuff when the humidity is sky high and the temps reach the 30s. The damsons - we will get them early next week and make some jelly - strained jam.

I think Dawn asked re weeds. Of course I have weeds. If I see them, I yank them out, but I don't hunt them down. And if they are pretty and non-invasive, sometimes they can stay. In spring, as the garden starts growing, I get out as many as possibly, and again in the autumn. But because I scatter seeds of flowers about, I am never sure if little plants are weeds or flowers, so I let them stay till I am absolutely sure.


It is now the next day. I started writing this yesterday and forgot about it. Aqua class, a wonderful head massage, dozing off...you know how things work out. I made the blackberry cake, by the way, and can report that it is just as delicious as the other 2 versions. The bag of apples is still waiting to be cooked, and the freezer is still full. Loads to irritate me, but even more to be thankful for. Including the latest copy of Molly Makes to go and examine in a while.

I went to aqua again this morning at an early hour, and loved it all. I had a chat to the teacher afterwards, and she told me - get this - that my shimmy-ing is getting better. Hah. Me. Shimmy-ing. My mother would have grounded me for life if I had tried this in my youth. Shaking one's assets. And hips. Actually, shaking the lot. And I have a lot to shake right now. It is not a pretty sight. You try. It is impossible. She told us to start with the shoulders, and the rest would follow. Now we have graduated to the hips too. Well, I come from the twist era, and hula hoops, and I know how to move the hips. Sort of. Putting it all together to fast music is a trifle harder than you imagine. All I can say is thank the good Lord this is all UNDER WATER.

Restraint, you see. I was raised to be ladylike. Sorry, Mum - you tried, I know. And I prefer more sporty things, so the release of constraint and restraint on the dance floor never happened for me. But now, in the pool, now that I am older, now that I can wear purple and not worry about what people think..... Well. You have NO idea.

Why not. Some people take up embroidery. I am learning how to shimmy. UNDER WATER. Some young things came to class yesterday, wearing bikinis. The poor teacher had to keep racing down to their end of the pool to beg for restraint. Hahahahahahaha. The older, well upholstered ones (aka me) could throw ourselves about with abandon.

Now, however, I need a nap. But I am still grinning.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Not quite what I had in mind......

Things are heating up a bit around here - yesterday was hot and today will be hotter, and right there in the middle was last night, which was unbearably humid, so I didn't sleep a wink.


However, having the doors and windows open and the garden seat cushions out is good. Summer! The sun umbrella will also have an outing later. And, going to a BBQ this evening with loads of friends (visiting children from Canada are a great reason for BBQs!) should be excellent, without the need for 47 layers of clothing and a fire roaring in the fireplace.

Well, people, I started writing this this morning (it is now lunch time) and then got chatting to my daughter on line, and then my new Addi swing crochet hook arrived in the post and I got all excited about that, and then I fell out of the front door and landed on my back on the drive.

Yes. I know. Ridiculous. I have no idea what happened, but I think I twisted my foot, and fell forwards down the steps and onto the tarred drive, rolling onto my back as I did. Wearing a skirt. You have no idea how elegant I looked. I live to entertain the neighbourhood. Thankfully, unlike a couple of weeks ago, I managed to protect the bad leg and land on the good one. So now I have no good legs. Just wonky ones.

So there I sat with blood dripping off elbows and knees, totally bemused - what the heck just happened???

Anyway. It took a while to get up, get cleaned and get the drips to stop. And you know what just came through the letterbox? A leaflet advertising zimmer frames, mobility scooters, and other such delights like sticks and wheelchairs.

I think I am just going to go and sit in the garden and do nothing. Providing I can get out the door without falling on my face.