Monday, February 28, 2011
I am turning into one fast, and so are most of my friends who happen to be my sort of age. It is the source of great mirth at times for us all, though. I mean - take the age of all the reporters - the "experts" on TV. Give me strength. And when did policemen become policemen at 12? Or that is the way it seems. And who decided that school holidays were a good idea? I went shopping last week and it was like negotiating a fairground....... all those little ones tearing around at knee height. And we all know my knees are sensitive souls, don't we. Not to mention the bigger ones, some of whom I happened to have taught. They were pushing prams. I will say nothing. Memo to self: Avoid shops during school holidays.
Sigh. Yes, I do remember being a young Mum. And I also remember being young and knowing all the answers to global problems. I think I remember my parents rolling their eyes a lot at that stage. I also remember how we were going to fix the world.
Well, didn't we do well.
Music - another source of grumpiness. The hearing may not be what it once was, but good grief, does the music HAVE TO BE SO LOUD?????? If I am in control of the volume, however, I can have it as loud as I want. The same goes for the TV volume but this is why I qualify for the Society of Grumpy Old Women, you see. I make the rules to suit me. Oh the power.
And did you know that apparently one can buy a thingy into which one puts nappy wipes so they can be heated??? WHAT??? Exactly how far are they taking the "make your baby into a super wimp" idea? In my day, pure luxury was a squirt of baby lotion onto cottonwool. They survived to tell the tale. Their rear ends were soft too.
Ah yes, the good old days.
And speaking of babies and toddlers, there seems to be a tendency to treat the lot with kidgloves, and ask instead of tell. Please do this, that or the next thing, darling. (Insert sugary sweet voice.) Darling completely ignores all requests, and yet the firm instruction and expectation of obedience never seems to follow. Hmmm. (And no, young Mums who are close to me, I am not speaking of you here.... I have had a morning with little ones unrelated in any way, which launched another GOW chat with the older friends I happened to be with too. You may relax.)
Rules. Boundaries. Groan. This could move to an "I used to teach" post, and that can wait until I feel ready to inform Mr Gove of my view of how education needs to change and how the kids I happened to encounter seemed to have no idea that they are actually supposed to follow rules. Rules? What are they?
The price of petrol - I remember when it was 30 something p a litre. The price of bread. The price of just about everything on earth. See? Don't I do well at the GOW thing? I am so proud.
Have you ever watched any police reality shows? Does anyone remember when "yes sir" was a standard answer to a policeman? Not today. Policemen are more likely to get an earful of verbal abuse coupled with a screech about rights of the human variety.
Health and safety.
You know those little badges with numbers on which you get for birthdays? They all used to have pins on the back. To my knowledge, not one of my children ever managed to insert the pin into their bodies. I am sure I would have heard if they had. Now, they have little plastic clips which do not seem to stay on very well. And on a more serious note, there was the horrendous incident here in the UK a few years ago where 2 policemen watched a little boy drown, because they were forbidden to enter the water on H&S grounds. I still shudder when I think of that. Risk assessments for everything. Even climbing a ladder at work. One with 3 steps.
We are drowning under layers of legislation intended to wrap the nation in cottonwool and protect everyone from everything. Life isn't like that. No failure allowed because little egos may be dented. No competition, because there are losers in competitions. Aiyaiyai. And sterile environments which lower our resistance to absolutely everything. Allergies are on the increase. And that could well be because kids never come into contact with germs.
When my oldest was a baby, I sterilised everything known to man. And he was constantly developing infections. By the time #3 appeared, I was beyond worrying about germs. His dummy (pacifier) was picked up dusted off and plonked back in the mouth. He is as tough as nails, and never got sick. One of the ladies I was walking with this morning told of how her father-in-law, who was a GP, put her baby on the not pristine carpet on its stomach, to her horror, years ago. He apparently grinned at her dismay, and told her - that, my dear, is as good as a vaccination. Point well taken. Her child survived.
By now, I am sure your eyes are glazing over. I am not at all surprised. I do believe that this will become a series here at RCR. Consider this Episode 1.
I am on a roll........
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I would post photos, but I just sat down, you see, and I do believe it will take a miracle to get me up again in the near future. They can wait till tomorrow. Actually, I haven't taken any photos yet. But I will. And anyway, I still have one lot of bunting to do. I made it all and then didn't like the first one - the colour of the binding was not right, so I am making another one. And in the process have wrecked my pinking shears. They really don't last forever, do they.......
There is a big box of Easter things waiting till we are nearer Easter to put out and to decorate the Easter tree. I do not need another Easter or Spring thing for the rest of my life. I have enough for a few houses. I can see it all from where I am sitting.
Yesterday, because the weather was foul, I levered myself onto the deck in my sewing room and tried to sort out the seasons up there in boxes. Well. You have NO IDEA. At one stage, I was buried. There is not a lot of room to manoeuvre up there. By the time I slid down the ladder, I was ready for bed.
However, I had a 60th birthday party to go to. There were many calls to and from friends, discussing the dress for the party, because the suggestion was 50's style. Hmmmm. I decided to forget that part, and wear the first thing that I could find that was complete. As in all on the same hanger. My cupboard is very small, you see, and I reckon the last time I bought anything glamorous was about 10 years ago and heaven knows when last I wore any of it. Everything is still lovely and will not date, and most of it mixes and matches, but it is all silky and wearing silky stuff is like setting fire to my leg, so any of the options would be uncomfortable.
But we got there in the end. I found something vaguely suitable to wear and the party was great and we all had a wonderful time - I caught up with all my friends, and the food and music were both superb. Sue, the birthday girl, wore the most stunning 50's dress - red with black polka dots, and many petticoats! Just beautiful. One requires a waist to wear such creations. I have forgotten what a waist is. It is on the list for this year. Rediscover the waist. Sigh. And we will not discuss the deliciousness of the cupcakes. (The chocolate ones.......)(See above reference to the quest to re-discover the waist.)(Hopeless.)
I have just been trying to sharpen pinking shears by cutting fine sandpaper. I do not think it is working and the mess.... Time to retire to the sofa. If I can get up.
PS: I wonder how The King's Speech will do at the Oscars - it deserves to win the lot.
Friday, February 25, 2011
But Christchurch has moved my appreciation of it, and the young people who have always had it in their lives, to a whole new level. Put the students and the technology together, and you have a powerful combination.
Did you know that there is an army of over 18,000 students out there in the city? Highly organised, and all through the Internet. Their appeal for volunteers went viral, and they have this amazing band of students on the streets, responding to the needs of people all over the city. They are digging gardens, cleaning streets, taking food and water to people who can't get to depots, dealing with liquefaction, which is something I had never heard of. Have you?
The Student Volunteer Army is highly organised and has the full support of the Civil Defence department and the powers that be in Christchurch, and if you are on Facebook, you can check out their page - AC Student Volunteer Army. People throughout the city can text them, using a code "help me" and list their needs, or do so on their Facebook page, and a team of students will be dispatched to help, armed with their spades.
I am totally blown away by their willingness to get in there, to do the dirty work, to help and to make a difference to so many people in their city.
And it doesn't stop there.
The students in Dunedin saw a need, and stepped into another gap. Communicating via the Internet, they volunteered to provide lunches for the Student Army. They wanted to help. So today, they are organising over 10,000 lunches. Their website Keep them going is up and they are asking for people to provide food for the volunteers. They have also got companies providing the transport of the lunches, farmers providing fresh fruit.....all through the Internet. Wonderful.
Christchurch is a devastated city. Over a third of the buildings in the city centre will have to be demolished. The city has a really difficult time ahead. More than 200 people are still missing, and 123 have been confirmed dead as I write. It is a sad sad time for the people trying to put their lives back together. Imagine a city centre being off limits for several months. TVNZ has excellent live update coverage. The only way it can be rebuilt is with the entire community working together, and these young people are a credit to their university, country, city, their parents and themselves. I am SO proud of them all, so impressed and so encouraged by them. Every one of them.
With their use of Twitter and Facebook, and with their huge knowledge of the Social Media phenomenon, they are in a position to spread the word at incredible speed and meet a need. This is a shining example of the Computer Generation in the best of ways. Armed with their smart phone, laptops, energy, and spades, they are making a huge difference. We can all learn from them.
In recent weeks, this new method of communication creating change has been transforming the world, you know - the use of Social Media in the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan revolutions is well documented. President Obama brought technology into the political world during his presidential campaign, but here - it is moving on to amazing levels.
There are of course, times when it is used for diabolical means too, but I don't want to talk about that right now. I want to celebrate the good. The students in Christchurch deserve all the cheers today. Just wonderful.
(This is the second time I have written this - or a variation of it. Blogger decided to eat it, and then sign me out. I ws less than thrilled. But I really wanted to tell you about these amazing kids, so started from the beginning. Again. )
So another week barrels to an end. Yesterday's sun has disappeared, and instead we have the wetness yet again. Isn't it amazing how much more productive we get when the sun shines? It energises people. Well, it energises me. Unfortunately I expended a little too much energy yesterday, what with all the "have you got a saw/screwdriver/sandpaper/drill/vacuum" etc etc etc. The end result was worth it, but there is always a price to pay.
The sparkling dishes make up for a great deal.
I need to stop discussing my dirty dishes.
I had a long chat with a friend today, who learned recently that she has been made redundant. We talked of opportunities, not misery. Plans, not hopelessness. Trust, not worry. Leaps of faith. I will forever be thankful that I was born with an optimistic approach to the challenges life has a tendency to throw at me, you know. My friend has a similar approach to life, and I know she will be fine.
I am working on awareness - being aware of the tiny things around me during my days. Opening my eyes. It is not quite as simple or easy as it sounds, but I refuse to get caught on a treadmill of just existing, and not really living. It is not about deliberately deciding to do something interesting so you have plenty to notice. No, it is about noticing things in the mundane. Like the sparkling dishes. (I need to STOP talking about sparkling dishes......) The way the sun shines on a photograph. The rows of threads, the way the tulips in the vase bend. My eyes glance over these things without taking note usually. They are not out of place and so don't stand out to me, and yet, if I do take note, they ARE special. Beautiful.
And at the same time, I am still caught up in the NZ earthquake disaster. The devastation of a city and the pain of its people. The troubles in Libya and consequences for us all. The revolt of the people in the Middle East. My mind considers the potential catastrophic rise in fuel prices, and an unstable world. And to be frank, there are times when just looking at the tulips slows down the racing thoughts. Thank heavens. Now there is talk of using all manner of methods to retain/regain control by Pres Gaddafi - things like germ warfare. And my heart shudders.
I put petrol in my car today. It was a quarter full when I got to the petrol station, and it cost me £52.00 ($83.70) to fill up. That means that it will cost nearly £70.00 ($112.67) a tank. And that is today. Tomorrow it will be more. The day after that, more again. And again.....
So many things to keep us awake at night.
So now, I have tulips in 3 rooms. I split a bunch so I can always see them, and remember the little things. In a world like ours, today at the end of February 2011, we need to remember the small things too. There is still beauty to see.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Remember the free dishwasher my friend Margaret spied on a notice board at her church? Well, today was the day I arranged to get it. So last might, I moved the old one out, cleaned the floor and undid most of the pipes. That meant emptying the cupboard under the sink and we will not discuss the state of it. But then, I couldn't undo the cold water tap. So I called a friend and he arrived and sorted that one. Then another friend came round to load it into my car. It was destined for the tip. I have great friends.
And then I went singing. That was lovely.
So this morning, both the guys who had offered to collect the dishwasher were indisposed, so I popped into the shop to get a big bunch of flowers for the kind people who were giving me the dishwasher, and then collected another friend to help.
Off to the tip, and then on to the other side of town. And then home to do the "quick and simple" connection and start washing dishes.
The cold water stopper thingy would not shut, so we had leaky water everywhere, which meant finding the stopcock and switching off the water to the house, and when another friend called to see if it was installed, I said no, bring tools. So there they were, my two valiant friends, masquerading as plumbers. There was a trip to the hardware store involved. I had the jigsaw out to cut out the back panel, followed by resorting to ripping the whole thing out.
I made coffee.
And took photos.
There was much laughter and talk of strange things I have NO NEED to know...... Plumbing is not on the list of things I want to learn.
One friend in the cupboard sorting out water pipes....
Two friends in the cupboards sorting out water pipes.......
I made more coffee.....
They got the dishwasher connected without leaks, and 3/4 of the way into the hole....
They decided that they would rip out my old microwave and install the newer one.
I was lavish with my praise and thanks, believe me. The guys did a great job, and I am SO thankful. They informed me that it was like Men at Play - sort of meccano for big boys. They also had a ball, I have to say and there was a great deal of laughter.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
My friend, Linds's son happened to be in Christchurch on business, and missed being in one of the buildings which is rubble now, by minutes. His car was tossed over the road, but he is fine. He saw things he never want to see again. Absolute devastation.
So it has been a high adrenalin sort of day, and I am so so thankful that everyone I know and love is okay. But your prayers for the people of Christchurch and New Zealand would be wonderful. So much loss, grief and shock.
Hey - I just love you all you know - you care. And it means the world to me.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I was just thinking how the profile of my blogging friends has changed over the years. So many of my dear friends have slowed down, or stopped for now, and yet, yes, I know, there are new friends to make and get to know too. That is always exciting. But I miss my old friends from the days I started out so tentatively here. I miss their words. Their wisdom. Their lives. Sure, many are on Facebook now, but it is not the same. I may know what they are doing at any one time, but I don't know what they are thinking. And if your Facebook status is anything like mine, it is what I am NOT saying which is the point. Sigh. How to get the balance right.
And another thing - I miss the ordinariness there used to be in the blogging world. Before super organised, streamlined blogs became the norm. Some of my friends have become mega-bloggers and while I am delighted for them, I miss the times when we all seemed to know each other. Blogging was never a business back then. It was simply stories we wanted to tell. Progress, I suspect, is what I will be told. Things evolve. Oh yes, they certainly do.
Sometimes I hesitate to comment because there are already 298746788923900 comments, and what I wanted to say has already been said a thousand times or more. And I wonder if they remember.......
I like being able to tell my stories. I love(d) reading their stories. I loved Becky's Alphabet soup. Barb's Sunday Meanderings. Susie's wonderful photos of California. Chris's hilarious stories of her life and family. Mary's tales from Australia. Shannon. Antique Mommy. Diane from Diane's Place. Jeana. Heather. Jenni. Scribbit. Heidi, Kelli and Pam. Some still write now and then, and that is a total delight when I see them pop up on the reader.
Nostalgic. That is what I am. Not for something that existed decades ago. But for the days before the power-blogging started. Just a short while ago. Maybe some people felt they could not take their blogs to the next level? I don't do levels. Is that necessary? Does it matter? I am happy right here. It is so much less, yet so much more for me. Maybe people are writing books. That is great too and of course I want to read them. They are all moving on with their lives, I know. But I think of them often. And wonder how they are really doing.
But I still miss the simpler days. Them.
Sigh. (Setting the rocking chair in motion and reaching for the coffee)
Maybe I am getting old.
Maybe I will have to think of something different. But in the meantime, I am going to play with templates. Time for Spring, I think.
Friday, February 18, 2011
One busy busy little girl, who loved her chocolate birthday cake, fed her Auntie and Grauntie noodles she had cooked on her stove - the noisy one - on the TV (which could do with a clean after the feeding episodes) via skype. She has now got a jungle gym/slide thing in the garden and a trike and a little car to sit in and push around, so she is more than thrilled, and once the weather gets a little warmer than freezing, she will be out there. She did get bundled up a few times yesterday to try it all out, but her parents and grandparents were frozen, so the garden play did not last very long.
Another reason to hope Spring is not far away!
Ah, how I love that little girl. She is starting to talk more now. I distinctly heard "shtoopid" when the door of her kitchen came off. Not quite the vocab we were aiming for, but accurate, nonetheless! It was a stupid door to fall off when yanked with considerable force.
The grown-ups celebrated her birthday with a raclette last night, after she fell asleep. She was zonked after her very exciting and busy day. So were the grown-ups too, may I add. If you could bottle the energy a two year old seems to have we would make a fortune.
So I am one very happy Moregranny. I got to "Mum mum" (Come come) and do puzzles, and build duplo and put shoes and bibs on dollies. I got a wrestle (with her Mummy) a little girl into her clothes in the mornings - did I mention she never ever stops wiggling running or moving???
And I loved every minute.
Being a (More)Granny is wonderful.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I had a list of things to do today, and while I seem to have been moving all day, somehow half of it remains undone. Sigh. I did learn about cross crawling this morning though. A friend is helping me with some exercises. Not crawling on the ground - but doing the kind of thing soldiers do when they march. You know - opposite arms and legs moving.
I used to be able to do this without thinking, but we are trying to retrain the brain. You would roll with mirth if you could see me. SO frustrating when you get out of sync. And I do. Frequently. Things like "midline" and "crossing it" have become a challenge. But I am working on it.
The strangest thing happens when I try these sort of exercises, you know. Every nerve in my body starts prickling. That is the only way I can describe it. Like pins and needles only sharper. As if the wretched things are trying to stop me. They are confused. So I "soldier on" with the prickles. Then the hair starts standing on end.
Oh well. I will win in the end.
On to more mundane things. I have wrapped up Missy's presents for her 2nd birthday. Two years old. She is a real little girl now. Not a baby any more. And strong willed too. (She says with a grin - remembering 3 strong willed children she had to deal with in years gone by!) But so cute and so gorgeous. Not that I am biased or anything. I do love my granddaughter.
And after a short trip to the supermarket with the classy coffee shop, (yes, I stopped for coffee and a bite to eat) (and patted the laptops) Glynis popped in for a visit. That was lovely. And I have just spent the past 2 hours on the phone discussing my slow-as-a-doped-snail internet speed with my broadband supplier and its arch rival. It may be time for a change.
So my day has been unremarkable. I forgot to wash my hair. I also forgot to start the washing machine. I did not vacuum the appalling carpets. Nor did I clean the floor in the kitchen. I did not get any more photos scanned. I did finish a small sewing project. I did eat a couple of chocolates. I did drink copious amounts of coffee.
Good things and unimportant things. The bits that make up our lives, and give it colour. Perhaps my day can be called soft jade. Not bright and not dark. Neutral. Sort of. Hmmm. Colours. I wonder if I can make a rainbow in a week. Colouring days. Now that is an interesting thought to be pondered.
Right now, I am going to go and watch CSI and forget the list. It too can wait for another day.
Monday, February 14, 2011
That means a mountain of photos. I have a huge box sorted into years, so we have made a start. But I should try to scan the lot and have them in folders on an external hard drive at the very least. But it takes time, people. Believe me. Loads of time. Maybe a decade or 2. I have been doing this all day and have only scanned in about 200 so far.
The hilarious part is looking at me. Well, at photos of me. Long hair. Short hair. Very short hair. Wild hair. Smooth hair. Then there is the size. From size 8 (very very tiny) to size *!$$*&!. (Not very very tiny. At all. ) We will ignore any measurements at this point. From unfortunate floral leggings (pink) to white trousers to glamorous black dresses and classy numbers (from the size 8 days). And Mummy Gear in between. Baggy sweaters. Long floaty skirts. Tshirts. Long cardigans. Concealing stuff. You know - to hide the post pregnancy extra weight which one is still trying to get rid of 22 years later. Some of us were not meant to be sylphs.
Groan. I am trying to get them in a separate folder and I will do a post of the Changing Me. However, I have to say, I think I look younger now than I did back when I was hmmmm ....about 42. Well, some time ago. And the shoes. Oh heavens. The shoes had some strange periods too. So did coats. There are some seriously weird coats in my past.
I also discovered that one of my favourite tops seems to appear in the 2002 folder. Right. That was a good investment then. But it is 9 years old. I think maybe I had better check to see if my attachment to it needs to be severed. I may be blind to its shortcomings.
Hair. Clothes. Inches. Shoes.
But you know what? There were an whole load of photos of smiles, laughter, hugs and cuddles. Grins and amusement, and happiness.
And me standing on ostrich eggs too.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
And then there are times when I walk into the garden and there is a silence so profound it actually makes you stop in your tracks, so not even the sound of your feet break it. The silence. Last night was a night like that. The stars were as bright as diamonds scattered on a velvet throw. And that silence. Wow.
Now I try to look for it at night. I wonder if I stay up a little longer, will I catch it? Sometimes I do and sometimes it never happens.
Last night, I looked.
I had been talking to my daughter because it was already her birthday in New Zealand, and I was not there. I was here. But I went to look into the sky for a different reason. We live under the flight path, I think. Planes take off from Heathrow and fly north over the pole to America, and then on to New Zealand. I can always see planes at this time. Always. And surely one is going to NZ? I like to think so and I look at the tiny lights up there in the sky, and I think of those exact same lights flickering over the airport in Auckland as they touch down in 24 hours. Closer to where my daughter is.
Imagination is a wonderful thing.
Telephones are too.
It sounds just as though she is in the same village when I speak to her. I forget she is hot and in the middle of summer while we are freezing in winter. I forget she is waking up as we are winding down for the day. I forget the thousands and thousands of miles when I talk to her.
We talk of ordinary things. Of family and friends, and how to work phones. Of cars and plans and things which make us laugh. Of illness and crises and oh....just ordinary stuff.
30 years ago, my little baby girl was handed to me seconds after she was born. So tiny and so beautiful. I never knew what any of my children would be. Boys or girls. I just knew that they were my babies and I loved them. So each was a beautiful surprise for us. It never mattered in the slightest to either of us.
And now look at her - 30 years old. Full of life and love and far away. Living - really living her life to the full. But I am her Mum and I am allowed to miss her, even though I raised her to fly.
Happy Birthday, my Diana. I think I will go and watch for planes in the sky for a while again. I love you very much.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Of course, what is happening in Egypt is of enormous significance, most especially in the lives of 82 million Egyptian people, and I just pray that they use this opportunity well, and choose peace, justice, freedom and democracy. But they are the ones making the choices, and they are an educated intelligent nation, and need to be left to decide for themselves. Things are changing all over the place, and as long as this earth keeping turning, it will continue to be so.
Change. It happens.
In the span of my lifetime, I have seen "history being made" many times. The Berlin Wall. Going up and coming down. Wars have been fought in distant places. Many things. When we think about history, we tend to think of massive events, often particularly brutal. But think back a few years - the New Year's Day tsunami. Remember that? To the people who lived through it, it was massively important, and it will shape their futures for generations to come. It is part of their history now. But to the rest of us, it has become a distant memory of a far off place.
There are concentration camp survivors who will know that their experience changed their history (and their futures) in the most savage of ways, and yet somehow they now find themselves living in a world where knowledge of those times is just found in a few history books. And in some schools here in the UK, history is being dropped as a subject. In favour of more technological modern subjects. Do NOT get me started on this one....... (I have a degree in History.)
Every day, we create our own history. Computers were invented when I was at school. By the time I was at university in the early 1970s, you could study computer science, which involved a lot of "1" and "0" in binary code, and pieces of rectangular cards with holes punched in them. Calculators. Mobile phones. Fax machines. Microwaves. Internet.
There was once an Industrial Revolution. We are probably in the Computer Revolution. Computers have changed the course of history. Our lives. Machines do the work men toiled at in the olden days. With terrifying possibilities and breathtaking speed. They have also enabled man to explore space. Well, to try to explore close bits of it in person, and further afield, oh yes, those computers are whirring away, sending back data undreamed of 20 years ago. Under our oceans. Inside the earth.
The future has endless possibilities, doesn't it. Both good and bad. And the past....
If we stop learning about the past, the future has little meaning.
But back to history being made.
Every time I take a photo, or write about my day, or sew a stitch in a quilt, or copy a recipe into my recipe book, I am creating a part of my history. My family's history. Every child's drawing gently folded and placed in a memory box, every pair of first shoes. Every wedding ring. Part of our history. Every school report kept. Scrapbooks. Diaries. Journals. Blogs.
I come from a family of adventurers, you know. My paternal grandfather who was born in Lancashire, here in the UK, ran away to sea when he was 14, then joined the British Army and went to India and fought in the Siege of Kimberley in South Africa. Somewhere along the line, he went to university in London, qualified as an engineer, started an industrial school and then when he had met and married my Granny, in South Africa, came back to England to fight in WW1 and then studied to be an optician. An interesting man.
My Moregranny, his wife, left Glasgow in Scotland as a young woman, with her mother and 2 sisters, to move to South Africa where her uncle had settled, half a world away. She trained as a teacher, and moved to the north of the country when she got married. Then back to the south when her husband died, to be near my Dad, her only child.
My maternal grandfather moved from Oxfordshire as a small child, with his family, to Cape Town, where his father founded a business which became very successful. He was sent back to the UK to school with his brother and once he had finished his education, he went to work for his father, and managed the business. He and my gran travelled widely.
My maternal Gran left Norfolk as a small child with her family, who were millers, and moved to Cape Town to a really different life in a city. After living on farms for generations, that must have been major culture shock. She, too, trained as a teacher and worked until she married and had her children.
Those great grandparents of mine made tough decisions in the late 1890s. They moved into the unknown, and who knows, there must have been fear or at least trepidation in their hearts. There was no guarantee they would ever see their homes in the UK again, or their families. They left centuries of tradition, of their histories, to start new lives. One great grandmother missed her home so badly, and never gave up dreaming of going back. She never did. They had no idea whether they would be able to build new lives in a new place. They had to work incredibly hard at it. No phones back then. Weeks or months waiting for letters. What bravery.
And now the modern day adventurers......
I married an Englishman, and moved to live in England. I crossed that ocean too. In fact, I completed the full circle my 3 sets of great grandparents and one grandfather started the century before last. My sister married a man born in Germany who moved to Switzerland as a boy and she now lives in Switzerland. She also moved hemispheres. I have a daughter who lives in New Zealand. Well, you can't get much further away can you.......
So this family has crisscrossed the oceans many times in many ways over the course of 120 years. It has been to most places in the world, given that I was married to an officer in the merchant navy and there were not many places he had not seen, believe me. And my parents and sister travelled a lot too. In fact the whole family travels as often as they can. Maybe it is genetic. Their decisions over those 120 years have altered the history of our family. (I also had a part in making one of those decisions, of course.) And it will continue to change as generations come and make decisions of their own too.
So far, to my knowledge, none of the people in my family has changed the course of global history. They have ridden the waves of a century of immense challenges, though. They have lived through the history we read about today, including 2 World Wars. I have lived through parts of it. South Africa....... many many challenges. The Cold War. The rise of terrorism round the globe. Big things. Little things. But they have written their own history books. Unique.
And just sometimes we forget that it could be the smallest of things which could have the hugest of impacts on the history of the world. Tiny seemingly insignificant things.
Like that little baby born in a stable, for instance.
Who knows who or what will change the course of history then? It could be a book. It could be one life. It could be one small idea. It could be one stroke of genius. Or madness. It could be just about anything.
Little insignificant things. Or so we may think. Big things too, like Egypt, perhaps. But our own histories are just as important in the sphere of our lives. And everything we choose to do alters how our history may read one day.
We will have to wait and see what kind of story unfolds.
Friday, February 11, 2011
So I came home and decided that supper was superfluous. I would starve (hahaha) instead.
Then I went to housegroup. And my coffee arrived, and then the array of cakes. Lemon drizzle cake (delicious) chocolate brownies (equally delicious) and something else I managed to ignore. Yes. I had more carbohydrates.
And WHO CARES???????
Waddling is just fine.
I did not eat until supper today.
This has suddenly become a food post.
My day has been spent trying to understand my new phone. This has entailed watching innumerable Youtube videos instructing me what to do, and many many calls of frustration to my phone supplier to ask for help. The last time I called - I couldn't find the contacts from my sim card - had the man in stitches. I plowed on regardless, informing him that no little black phone was going to defeat me.
I have not even begun to think of ring tones and such like at this stage. That can wait. I need a darkened room with a cold compress on the fevered brow after the battle I have waged all day to understand a little thing which fits in the palm of my hand.
And I am old enough to remember those first mobile phone closely resembling bricks.
And car phones? Does anyone remember those?
Now for a little down time. I did cut out a little dress for Missy today (while waiting for the helpline to pick up the phone). I have a quilt to finish. I will be back tomorrow with something hopefully more interesting than phones and cakes to talk about, I promise......
Thursday, February 10, 2011
I had a wonderful time and we all laughed and sang our hearts out - isn't it wonderful when there are enough men with great voices there at rehearsal at any one time who do not waver but belt out their harmonies with confidence??? Love it. Everyone raises their game then. However, if the men are wavering, heaven help the lot of us. Last night, they were stars. There were over 90 of us. Rehearsals are once a week but on different days each week to accommodate those with other commitments. And this way more people get to join in. So we all sang wonderfully well and even our very hard to impress conductor(s) said wow - where did that come from then! Les Mis last night and more West Side Story. I am so glad I went out in the cold.
And here are a couple of things I thought of after yesterday's post, under the heading of Things I have Learned (Finally)(Reluctantly)(With Great Difficulty).....
- I used to move fast. Everywhere. Impatience was one of my less than stellar attributes, and I used to get extremely impatient. Hmmm. Actually, I still do at times. Sigh. Lesson One. Linds, you will slow to the pace of a snail and learn to put up with it and everyone will get impatient with you. Oh yes. Just this morning, the DHL delivery man departed BEFORE I could get to the door. And that doddery old woman in the supermarket? Hello? That is me. Groan. Be nice to
- People who walk with sticks are invisible. Take a look around when next you go out.
- Disabled parking bays. Hah. I have a blue badge. I get to park outside the door. Well, I could, if other perfectly able bodied people did not park in bays reserved for ME. And when I asked one if he had a badge, he replied no. So I asked very politely, why he parked in the bay reserved for disabled badge holders, he replied - because it is closer to the shop. What of it. I nearly kneecapped him with my stick. And another thing I have learned is not to judge people who park in these bays and have badges who do not LOOK disabled. I admit, with shame, that I used to wonder myself sometimes. What a lesson. I look perfectly normal. I have said it before. Pain is invisible. The badges are hard enough to get, believe me. If you have one, you NEED one.
- Boom or Bust, when interpreted physically, as in doing way too much then collapsing, is as dangerous as the financial version of it. And we know all about the cost of the financial version of it, don't we now. As in increased tax, VAT, everything on the earth etc etc etc. There will always be a Bust. I keep re-learning this one. Daily. Sigh. I am a work in progress.
So if you happen to see an older lady hobbling through Waitrose (the aisles are wider, the coffee shop classy and you get to pat the laptops) Tesco or Sainsbury, with a screwed up face, and a stick, who zapped her car into the disabled badge parking place at speed outside the door, please remember, she may not be as grumpy as she looks. She may just be in pain, having a bad day, but determined to get out of the house and have a LIFE. Even if the supreme achievement of the day is a trip to the supermarket.
She may just be me.
And now I am off to lunch with a friend. There are some really lovely perks in this new way of life, you know!
PS..... the first snowdrops are out in the garden!
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
I noticed that a couple of pages had writing on at the beginning, and I was about to rip them out and toss them when I paused to read. And page one was written on Father's Day 2008. The day I learned that I was going to be a Granny for the very first time. Oh, I can't tell you how excited I was (and still am) about being Missy's Moregranny.
I am not ripping that bit out. Of course not. And I turned the page.
I am going to write a little of what was on the next page. There were just two entries in the book. This is the last one, written over the course of the day at work.......
This is P1 at school. I have 2 covers today - P3 and P4, and I teach in P5. So at the moment, I have a little time to breathe. I truly hate this place. The staff I work with - not my friends - they are great. But the rest not. Thank heavens it is Friday.
I know. I am supposed to be thankful for so much and I truly am, but it is never simple or easy.
Constant rudeness, insults, lack of respect - oh enough. I keep saying it and I am sick of it.
It is now P2 and time is flying just because I am not in class. This weekend I need to sleep and rest. Not to mention finding David a suit and shoes for his prom as well. And he has lost his phone. Not a shining moment. Thank heavens it is a pay as you go one.
Soon, in 3 days time, it will be 2 years since Geoff was told his heart was leaking. In 2 weeks it will be 2 years since he died. How has the time gone by so fast? I am so caught up in the business of staying fed, clothed and sheltered that in a lot of respects I have forgotten how to really live.
But then, because I haven't had time to grieve yet, there is all that waiting. I wish I never had to think re hospitals, and lawyers again. I wish it didn't have to happen. I also wish the legal thing was magically over, in my favour and that I didn't have to worry for a couple of years.
Oh how I pray for miracles. It is all about me and I KNOW that, but I am only human. I am tired of worry. And yes, I know worry is a sin. Again, I am only human. I try. I really do. I need to be led by the hand along the right path for me. Guided, so I don't go off track. Humility. Love. Compassion.
Oh well. It is P5 now and time to teach. It is soon the weekend. I can't wait.
The date was Friday 20th June 2008.
10 minutes later, I blew out my knee in class and you all know the rest of that story. Apart from attempting to go to work the following Monday, I have not been back.
If I had found the book a year ago, it would not have actually meant a great deal. The time would not have been right. But right now, it does. It is. Because I am older, wiser and ready to slow down and see what is right there in front of my eyes. Now.
I asked for a miracle. And I got one. Not quite the way any of us would have wished for, granted, but a miracle, nonetheless. I have never had to endure the insults, lack of respect, and the sense of worthlessness that engenders since. That in itself, has been such a huge blessing. You see, I also, among the papers, found a list of all the incidents I had coped with while teaching, and it made my skin crawl. That part is best forgotten.
So that is the first part of the miracle. I was whipped out of the place that was eating me alive, and I never went back. And because I have been stuck at home, I have also had the chance to be there for my friends and family as they have faced crises, health-wise or other. I would not have been able to do that as well working full time.
Not only was I on the couch, but I was also incapable of doing the things I loved, like reading. The focus, people, the focus. Or lack of it. And zero concentration. But finally, I really understood what my friend with MS meant when she spoke of the same thing. I KNOW now.
So this miracle involves me off my feet and on a couch. Unable to read. Unable to focus. Unable to DO things. It doesn't sound much like a miracle, does it? But it was. Is. All that was left in retrospect, was time to rest. To breathe. To sleep. To think. To be. And heaven knows I did a great deal of most of those things. A great deal. Well, a variation of them, anyway.
Did I use that time wisely? Of course not. I seem to always have to learn the hard way. This is Linds here, the one who tries to fix everything for everyone. But another part of the miracle is just that. I realised that I cannot fix everything. Or anything, actually. I can try. But now I know it is out of my hands. So much I used to whizz through easily now appears to be written in some incomprehensible language. To me.
I have had time to listen. Time to learn from listening. Time to work out how to crochet. Time to play in my garden. Time for lawyers. Time for research. This is not a shining use of the time either. Because I try to control everything around me, more so than ever after Geoff died. Surrendering the control is very, very hard. But I try.
Refining by fire, perhaps.
I am not saying God made my knee explode that Friday afternoon. But I am saying that I really do believe He didn't stop it. He knew things had to change. And once they had changed, He has been extremely patient, as I have tried to work my way to the point where, instead of wailing and gnashing the teeth, I was ready to find the notebook. And realise just how prayers are answered in the weirdest of ways.
He has always had my best interests at heart, and over the course of the years since that Friday, I have fought so hard. Tried so many different things. Read, researched and experimented. But I was just putting off the time where I could see it as a true blessing, including the financial turmoil of losing an income. Because hey, Linds is still here. Different. But still Linds. Dreams intact. But subtly altered. With a new awareness which grows by the day of oh so many things.
When you have no option other than to turn round and say to God, hey, here I am. I have run out of all those options I was so sure would work. It was all about me, but now it has to be all about You. So what happens now? And you head for the couch to close your eyes and just rest. And listen. And you quieten the voices in the head (there are still elements of classroom control left in the far corners of the brain, you see) so you can hear clearly, as you tell your heart to stop racing, your head to stop worrying, and your body to stop hurting. Just rest and be present.
You see, once I stopped doing, and started being, so much has happened, become clearer. Friendships have cemented and grown immeasurably. Pride - oh the pride - has taken a huge hit, and saying yes to help is becoming easier. Even asking for help at times. Tough though that still remains. Thankfulness? Oh yes. Learning to say no. Another tough one.
So how can I not say that that Friday afternoon so long ago was not the answer to prayer? It has taken years to know this, recognise it. But it was, you see. I know that now.
And I will forever be thankful.
Edited to add: I have just been over to The Bloom Book Club to listen to Chapter Two. Well, my friends. Well. It could have been written for me right at this point. I tried to write what she was saying but go instead, and listen for yourselves. You will see what I mean. Grace. Acceptance. Thanksgiving. Joy. It blew me away.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
That makes sense to me. I hope it makes sense for you too.
All day, and what a beautiful day it has been - blue skies, sunshine and no wind, thank heavens - as I have completely overdone things, I have had the words leaping about in my head, tumbling over each other. While my schedule for the day may look like nothing to most of you, it was packed for me, and pacing bit the dust.
I should have stopped 10 minutes after I went out to try and save the greenhouse. And the stuff in, around and under it. I didn't stop.The sun was shining. And then I had bills to pay and that meant a visit to the nearest town, which meant walking and standing in queues. The queue bit was a disaster. My stick and I tried a balancing act. I had Things To Do. So I didn't do the sensible thing and go and have a coffee and rest a while, did I. That would be no.
And so the day went on. People to see. Calls to make. Fixing things. And here I am in a mess and the words I really want to spill out are log-jammed. I never learn, you see. Do something for 10-15 minutes and rest. Hahaha. I HAVE to start following instructions or I will never get it right. And getting it right is the way I learn to manage this, and not let it manage me.
The couch calls. Tomorrow is going to be a very slow day. Very slow.
Monday, February 07, 2011
And the first of the quilts, which measures roughly 42x34 inches, is finished. The second is nearly done too. And the hands, oh the hands..... I hand quilt in a very simple fashion, you see - I love the way the hand stitching looks - but it strips the skin off the thumb and next 2 fingers. I don't wear a thimble because it just doesn't work for me, so I have a new system. I wrap my middle finger in a folded up piece of toilet paper, and then micropore it in place. That works. Sort of. One doesn't really want to add one's DNA to every quilt. I different kind of signature!I was on the couch stitching away last night, and it was dark and for some reason, it seemed like midnight. It was 9pm. I had completely lost track of time. I think I must have made supper at about 4pm. For the first time in my life, I ran out of olive oil. I was making a stir-fry of a mountain of fresh vegetables, and there was NO OLIVE OIL. Disaster.
That set me thinking of how, oh, about 15 years ago, I never used olive oil. I used sunflower oil. I think most people did back then, and then that got me thinking about how the eating and cooking habits have changed over the course of my life time. I remember when the only peas we had as children, came from tins. Frozen things were not really around, and how the vegetables and fruits were seasonal. We had fruit trees in the garden when I was young - plum, fig, apricot, lemon. I think. I remember waiting and waiting for the fruit to ripen, then eating fresh figs straight off the tree. Wonderful. I can picture that tree now in the back yard near the fence......
Now there is the awareness of fair trade and food miles, and organic produce never mind the things we grow ourselves. Things have changed. And for the better too. And "sell by" dates which in most cases are so overly cautious they end up with mountains of food being tossed out unnecessarily. Tins will keep for years - decades even. Having a 6 month sell by date is ridiculous. I use fresh foods well after their sell by date too. You can smell when the milk is off, the cheese is inedible and things are bad. I cut off the bad parts of fruit and eat the rest.
Anyway. I am still alive. So that is good.
Well, that depends on whether you are my lawyer or not. She got a stinging email (I am now sending one weekly to try to get things moving faster than the pace of a paralysed slug) asking for a progress report. Experts who have agreed to revue the case who take 9 months without producing a thing and who are apparently out of the country at the moment do not impress me at all. And the frustration is knowing that, had I agreed to the paper interviewing me and had the story been splashed all over the Sunday paper months ago, things would most certainly have been moving rapidly, if not over by now. There is no focus on justice here. I am surrounded by people focused on their own interests and advancement.
Maybe I will write a book about it all. Or something.
Ah well - what was my word for the year? Quiet. Hmmm. This Monday my mind is anything but quiet. I should retire to the couch and listen to a relaxation tape right now. Or quilt.
Now where did I put the micropore?
PS............ in the hunt for the micropore, I tipped over the coffee on the desk. Oh my sainted aunt.......
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I stood there and just looked. Then I got in the car and went out because there is nothing I can do right now. NOTHING. The wind is still howling, so trying to get it upright and see what I can do to save any of it is ridiculous. And anyway, it is too heavy. AND I can't get to all the stuff in it. Never mind the crushed stuff under it.
You can see that my mood is not stellar right now. Nor am I remotely happy.
I tried to think of some positives. Like ooh look, maybe I can paint the old shed while it is lying in a crumpled heap. But that didn't work. Or maybe the plants won't die, but mutate. That failed to work either. Or - gee look at how many shards of broken pottery you have for drainage in the big pots! No. It didn't work.
Or hey, Linds, you spend way too much time out in the garden anyway. Hmmm. That definitely did not work. I love my garden, tiny though it is. It brings me such joy to see flowers bloom and vegetables grow. If you have been here longer than a couple of months, you will know that from spring, my posts become decidedly garden-ish.
Oh the gloom and despondency abound round here at the moment. If I had curtains at the kitchen window I would draw them so I don't have to see the mess. Out of sight and all that.
Right, Linds, enough of the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Go and finish the bright happy red heart quilt instead and stop looking out that window.
Friday, February 04, 2011
So every now and then I bundle up and out I go to check. I need this greenhouse.
I grow things. My fragile plants are in it.
Oh well. We are used to challenges round here.
Today, I assembled an Ikea filing cabinet. One of the small ones. Then I went through my sewing room, collecting all the paper, and got that sorted in the new filing cabinet, so I could free up a couple of shelves. Actually, I need a few filing cabinets, but I have nowhere to put them, so will make do with the one. In the process, I tossed out a mountain of paper. All my lesson plans and papers from school, and all the resources, because there is no way I will ever be teaching again, so they are gone. That felt really good, I have to say. The definite end of a chapter.
The words "sewing room" are inaccurate, actually. Maybe I should refer to it as the craft room or studio, because I have all my craft things in there, and masses of books which need to move, and woodwork things, and scrapbook stuff, cuttlebug, and then all the sewing things. And wool. And ribbons. And bias binding and rickrack. No, not one or 2 of each. MOUNTAINS. Oh, and doll's house things too. Did I mention the huge house waiting to be assembled one day? Hmmm. I got that when I was running the doll's house shop in the village many moons ago.
See? My studio. It needs to be 5 times the size. Or I need to get organised. Or I need to use up all that stuff.
And that has been the day. Papers and wind and packaging tape and greenhouses.
The book, by the way, is called The Christmas Cookie Club and it is by Ann Pearlman. Light and easy reading.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Weather report: Cold. Again.
I thought you might like to see the book I am reading at night. In the bath. You may have hazarded a guess that it has bonded with my bath water. A few times. You would be right. And now it flops when I try to read it because it never actually dries out completely before it feels the need to go for another swim.
It is not a work of great literature. I do not take those swimming - I have learned that the hard way, believe me. But still, it has some really interesting bits in. It is something about a Christmas Cookie Club, and every chapter is about a different person so I don't really have to remember much, but what I am really loving is the couple of pages before each chapter, talking about an ingredient of the cookies. Like butter, vanilla, nuts , cinnamon etc. The history, the uses, the benefits. I am finding out things I had no idea about before. Mind you, I quite like the idea of a cookie club. I might invent one this Christmas.
It would be simpler if the book was dry though. The pages would not all be stuck together. And it would not be a floppy book.
On the subject of the written word, this morning, I was directed to the website for a local adult education place. Their new list of courses is up, and a friend suggested that there was one which may interest me. The first inkling that the words "Adult" and "Education" do not really mean what I would hope they mean came with the guide to the month. Did you know that it is "FEBURARY"?? I can go to the "FRIST" page, "WETHER" I like it or not.
Maybe not. I did see a one day course in wood carving which had great appeal. (I decided against the suggested one which was something to do with kinesiology. (Yes - that was the spelling. I have never heard of it before.)(Hahahahahha...the spell check came up with gynaecology as an option. It has never heard of it either.)
I have just made a hot cup of coffee to warm the hands. And I happened to see 2 lonely Oreo cookies on the way back to the desk. They are history. I suspect my inner Twiggy may never emerge. And you have to be of a certain age to understand that one I think. I am rambling again.
I also hooked my lovely necklace on the towel rail yet again, so am playing with the long nosed pliers as I speak, trying to repair it. For the 44th time. I have a talent for breaking necklaces on rogue towel rails.
As you can see, I have nothing mind blowing to relate. So my coffee and I will let you get on with your day. You will be the first to know if there is anything exciting happening round here.........
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
However, moving on....
I have Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Buns rising as I speak. I felt the need for Cinnamon Buns today and they are the PERFECT thing for pacing oneself. Heat the milk, then wait. Stir in the flour, then wait - a longer wait - time for coffee and a chat here. Assemble the buns, then wait. See. I am being angelic today. I am pacing myself. And there is a reward at the end.
- The house will smell wonderful.
- I will have cinnamon buns to eat.
I am not making the full recipe - I would have to go out and deliver 6 trays to the world at large. So I have cut it down to a more manageable quantity. And you know, I had to google "what is a quart of milk" because I was brought up METRIC and I have no idea what quarts and gallons and those sort of things are. It is similar to the "stick" of butter thing. Hello????? A measurement in GRAMS would be wonderful. (But I have done that one already.)
So. I am waiting. I had to actually turn the heating on to provide the "leave to rise for an hour in a warm place". It is rising. This has been a long awaited baking day, because finding maple extract was a little difficult. Until, that is, my friend in the frozen north (Scotland) went to the Good Food show and called me as she stood at the fancy stand selling flavourings to tell me she was clutching a bottle in her hand and did I still want it. Eureka! Then I had to wait for her to visit us down south. Then Christmas came and here we are. in February, for goodness sake. A month is already history in 2011.
I will not carry on about speed and time again.
Right. Time to go and lift the dish cloth. I will be back later. Very possibly 15kgs heavier.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
The CRPS post was inspired by the BBC2 Horizon programme last night on the Secret World of Pain, which I am intimately acquainted with, of course. It was fascinating, and they talked about CRPS too, hence my interest.
And once I had started writing, I got into researching places they mentioned, then the treatments, and before I knew it, 4 hours later, I had written a thesis on pain management and potential treatments worthy of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, and totally not worthy of RCR.
And I seem to be doing it all again here now. MOVE ON, Linds......
(insert pause to toss something in the oven, plan to bake something tomorrow and so search for yeast, and make a crumble because it is still COLD......)
The quilting is coming along nicely and thanks for all your sweet comments. It is a seriously easy quilt to make, with no fancy bits at all, but it does look lovely and warm. And warm is good right now. I am wearing my "laptop" gloves and my hands are still cold. Now if I actually HAD a laptop, I could sit in the warm part of the house. This is not it. But I am thankful I have a computer so I will shut up.
Talking about laptops, I did ask about David's disastrous HP laptop when I was in Waitrose. It came from John Lewis, and died after a year, requiring major work, then died again (for different reasons) 2 weeks out of guarantee this year, so it lasted less than 2 years by my count. Not fit for purpose, especially as it was a high spec laptop and not cheap in the first place. They suggest I take it up with HP. Am I ready for another battle? Hmmm. David has had to buy himself a new one. He is in the final months of his degree and a reliable computer is essential. He had no option. I do believe they should do something. And he is too busy to get involved in a battle. Which leaves mother...... We will see.
I went to Waitrose, by the way, for the coleslaw, which is delicious. And that was all I bought, apart from having a coffee and muffin while relaxing on a couch. So civilised. And I did look at the TVs, the laptops, the fancy linen and the toys. And the food. Then I left. I was very tempted to buy the Little Tykes play house for £199.99. But I didn't. Such restraint. (It can't last!) The outing for the day. At least the shops are warm.
Missy will be 2 in a couple of weeks. TWO!!! My granddaughter and I skype in the late afternoons, and she shows me all her toys and pops up to the big TV screen to give me a kiss too. I love watching her. She changes by the day.
(insert another lengthy pause to eat supper and start cooking the crumble)
This post is all over the place and in the interests of your sanity I will now retire to the couch and the quilting. Hopefully I will have something worthy of note to talk about tomorrow.
I lead such an exciting life.......