Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I am back......

This is a photo from the Luzerner Zeitung of the clean up operation on the road. Peter managed to get home because cars (and trikes) were led round the debris in police convoys, a few at a time. He says the queues are formidable, and no coaches can get through, so they are trying to move tourists in cars. It is a mess. But the Swiss are highly organised, so I am sure it will all be fixed soon.

The day has been a little doscombobulated and Roger lost, so I am still in a funk about that. During aquarobics this afternoon, we were all trying to watch the TV on the restaurant wall while bouncing up and down in the water, and the score was passed along the line as frequently as possible. The old body is creaking mightily at the moment, despite the spa after class. It needs oiling. A glass of Pimms would be good, if I even owned any. Sigh. Coffee it is then.......

A little about the quilt - each of my friends did one square representing something which linked them to me, so we have tennis courts, schools, churches, houses, ships, smocking, falling leaves (the name of a friend's home), school hats and shuttlecocks, amongst many other things. They all spent the last few weeks I was there making it in great big quilting parties, and so they were NEVER around to do things with me, and I was getting really worried that they didn't want to spend time with me, until I walked in on one of the parties. Well, it was just so special, and I was so, so thrilled. One of my friends bought a sewing machine and learned how to so especially so she could be included. How special is that. They didn't have time to finish quilting it, so I did that when I got here. There were times when I felt unbearably lonely in those first few months, because Geoff was in the Far East on the ship when I arrived with the children, and I used to wrap myself in it and surround myself with the love that went into it.

Leaving one life and heading to another in a different hemisphere is not simple. Going from a family home in a city I had lived in most of my life to a house I had never seen and not chosen, in a village in the middle of England, with a container held up at customs, and a 13 year old, a 9 year old and a one year old... I must have been crackers. If I hadn't had the Harpers here, I may well have disintegrated. They were (and have been ever since) life savers.

It was a challenge.

But here we are 21 years later. Still in the same little house which has changed radically over the years, and is about to change again when I finally finish the study. And create the breakfast nook. And re-organise the kitchen. And......

Hmmm. I think I will go and inspect the garden again. It is soothing.

Good things and bad things........

Here you go then......

 The blanket with the two cushions which decided the colours for the lounge this summer. It is a thick blanket. A warm blanket. Summer may turn very chilly after all.....
 And this is the quilt my South African friends made me when we left 21 years ago. So very special. It is huge. I had to lay it on the drive to take the photo and then I had to wash it and now it is draped over half the garden in the hope of some sun.
 A new lily in the garden.

I have just had a call to tell me that there has been a landslide in Switzerland, and Engelberg is cut off at the moment. The road and train line are buried under a few feet of debris. Not good. But at least it cannot be as catastrophic as it was when the road and rail connections toppled off the side of the mountain a few years ago. That was appalling. Remember when Marge's home was flooded? Well, apparently they have had torrential rain. Of Biblical proportions. (It must have been the aftermath of that storm over centre court yesterday - that was really frightening for the players, and the spectators too, I suspect.) They have been very wary about the level of the river. They do not need another flood. Prayers would be good.




I will be back later. I need to go and pace.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, that must have been summer then............

The blanket is finished. What possessed me to try to finish it on the hottest day of the year completely escapes me. I had definitely lost my mind there. I did take a couple of photos, but they are not stellar, because it is dark. The contrast in days is quite something. Today is grey and dark cool and the lights are on here in my soon to be ex study corner, and I am wearing a fleece. Yesterday clothes were an optional extra in the heat. But this is England after all, and the weather is not predictable. I will try taking a few when the sun comes out. If. Some day. Whenever.

I must remember to go and pay my phone bill. Memo to self: Do stuff. 

My day started with a visit to the doctor. Well, the nurse actually. For blood tests? Why? I asked. Just because it is AGES since they were last done. I come from the school of people who believe doctors should only be visited in dire emergencies. This is not a dire emergency. Sigh. Just leave me to poddle on through life (at a snail's pace) and I will be just fine. 

I was thinking, you know. This is supposed to be a blog where I document my days/memories/thoughts. And yet I write about approximately 2% of all that. It will be a very sketchy record. One hopes that by the time I am aged and weak and feeble, that I will remember the things I didn't write down. Maybe there will be words that trigger the unwritten memories. I hope so. 

I used to write down so much of what I was feeling or thinking and then a couple of years later, found the pages, and I was horrified. The whole lot went into the shredder. Files deleted. And so on. I came to the conclusion that I would never write down anything I wouldn't want my nearest and dearest to read if I keeled over and expired. Believe me, that means that the editing is ruthless. 

But the result is that that other 98% or me still needs a way to come out at times. Hmmm. A dilemma. 

This is where the garden, and the crocheting, the sewing and the craft things all come in - to take the place of the words. Some things I don't write about because it is more of the same. Who wants to read of pain? Regrets? Incapacity? Death and its consequences? Exactly. I don't want to write about it either. 

But this is my story and it is all a part of who I am, after all. The gym - well, I would rather hurt more after all the exercise and be able to blame the exertion instead of the CRPS. It makes me more normal, but believe me, it hurts. I know it will be good in the end, so I choose to battle through it. That doesn't make me a hero. It means I am pig-headed and determined. My friends will be nodding at this point. 

Then there is the list of priorities in one's life. I talked about this with my oldest friend yesterday - how it changes when you are alone. How things change. How people assume you will do things for them because there is just you, and no husband to consider. How being alone means that there are fewer invitations. How somehow, it is not as easy to prioritise even family. My children are grown. So who comes first? My kids - scattered about the globe? My Mum? My sister? My friends? No, she said - YOU have to come first. 

That is the problem, you see. It makes me feel selfish. It makes me feel wrong. It doesn't work. Real life makes it nigh on impossible. So prioritisng is a real issue here at the moment. 

How on earth did I end up prattling about this - I have no idea. 

Shall I tell you about some of my dreams? I dream of going to see my daughter in New Zealand. I dream of being in the Alps with my family. I dream of visiting America and Canada and meeting all my friends in real life, getting to know you all, and discovering the beauties you talk about. I dream of seeing the Aurora Borealis. I dream of going to one of the big conferences one day. I dream of times spent with people I have grown to love. I dream of Kelli getting her kidney and dancing round Trafalgar Square with me one day soon. 

I also dream of the day when the lilies in my garden are all in bloom. I dream of small things too. I dream of having a shoulder to lean on now and then. I dream of log cabins and fireplaces, and warmth, and laughter and fun. I dream of ....

Enough. I am depressing myself. The realities of life here at RCR mean that most of the dreams will remain dreams for now. But the beauty of dreams is that they never go away, do they. I can handle that. 

There was a perfect quote on Pinterest this morning. (What? You haven't discovered Pinterest yet? Google it, and settle down. You will be there a good few hours. So many ideas, and so much inspiration....) 

See? It is perfect for me, isn't it. I may be a snail, but I am still faster than some. So now I am abandoning feelings and dreams for the day and I am getting up and moving instead. I need to go and see if any more lilies are blooming..................

PS: Vee, it is an anemone. Just like I used to have in my garden in Cape Town. Soon there will be hundreds of them in the pot. They are all about to bloom, and I over planted. As usual!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday, and it is very hot.....

Oh heavens - it is HOT, people. Humid too. As in dripping kind of weather. I am already looking forward to the possible thunderstorm later this evening. I popped along to gym to see if my waiting list place for the pilates class was now a real place, but ended up doing the floor (stork) exercises instead. More dripping. Those of you who go to gym will know what I mean when I say that even after a long shower, the dripping continues, which means that make-up becomes a real challenge. And I forgot my sandals, so emerged from gym (still dripping, of course) wearing a skirt and top and trainers. You have no idea how classy I looked. However, it was QUITE clear that I had been exerting myself somewhat.

So home, and Jean popped in for coffee and we sat in the beautiful garden. You know, I am like a child on Christmas morning, walking around and SO excited when I see new flowers blossoming, as they are doing throughout the day now. It is all so lovely and smells so gorgeous and I want to jump up and down and yell "Yay!!" but I am no longer 8 so I restrain myself, you will be pleased to hear.

 This is what that Chocolate fridge cake looks like. You will have gained 50 calories looking at the photo. I apologise for my lack of organisation - talking about it one day, recipe the next and photos the day after. Organisation is not one of my talents, I fear.


 The two photos above are of my flowers at the front door. And my beans. And 3 pots of chrysanthemums. I thought they were dead a few months ago, but they are very much alive.

And this is right next to my chair under the apple tree. Such pretty colours. Sigh. I do go on about the garden.

It is now evening, and we had a BBQ  for supper. In the rain. It started raining just as the coals were the right temp, so there I was, under the apple tree, BBQing in the rain. As one does. (Hooray! Federer just won! I can breathe again.) I am from Africa. We do not stop the BBQ when it rains. The food was delicious, and the rain did stop.

This is very random and bitty today. I think the heat has addled the brain. I will be back tomorrow. There is hope - it is supposed to be cooler.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Such a beautiful day!

It is the MOST beautiful day today, and I have been nodding off under the apple tree in the shade, just sitting there and loving being amongst all the beautiful flowers. I did try to put up my new sunshade, but discovered that the parasol stand is too small for it. So I need to get a new stand. However, that costs twice the price of the sunshade. Makes no sense to me at all, but there you go.

Coffee after church this morning went well, and the chocolate fridge cake seemed to be a hit.  It is the simplest of recipes -
200g butter
4 Tbsps golden syrup
2 Tbsps cocoa powder

Melt the above in a big bowl over a pot of hot water

Add
400g packet of digestive biscuits (or any plain biscuit like Marie, tennis, rich tea  - I think graham crackers work too, though I have never seen them in my life .....etc etc) crushed in a freezer bag with a rolling pin. Not crumbs, just small pieces
A handful of raisins, sultanas, cherries  or what ever you want. Nuts too. Or none of these extra options. It is entirely up to you.

Mix the biscuits into the melted chocolate mix and press down into a cake tin lined with tin foil. Squish with a potato masher and then

Melt 150g chocolate with 30g butter.
Pour over the biscuit mix and shove in to the fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight if you can bear to wait.

Cut into small squares. It is VERY rich, and enjoy! Keep in the fridge - it will be good for at least a week, but I guarantee it will not last that long.

And now I need to go and marinate the meat. BBQ time this evening! Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chocolate......


Given my lack of a working oven at the moment, and another call to do coffee duty at church tomorrow morning (which requires cakes) I decided to make chocolate fridge cake. Two. Well, three, actually - one is for us and any random visitors who may pop in this weekend. I did consider cupcakes again, but seriously, I am still suffering from post traumatic stress after the egg debacle. And I would have had to invade one friend's kitchen. And I want to stay home.

Anyway. There are loads of calories lurking in my fridge as I speak. I may need to up the gym visits, because I am absolutely going to sample one. It is decades since I last made them! I can't think why.....

Our tropical weekend is not quite here yet. It is warm out, but there is no sun, and I just remembered that I have not switched on the TV and I have been missing the tennis. Hang on a sec.....

Roger is playing and is one set up so far. Good.

David and I ventured out this morning to the supermarket, along with what appeared to be the entire population of the county. Bedlam. I actually start hyperventilating in a mild way when I am in very crowded places, you know - the risk of someone bashing into my knee with their trolley increases and it is all subconscious, but there nonetheless. I had forgotten how nice it is to have someone to do the packing and lifting. Sons are very useful. And let me tell you, the sneaking something into the trolley thing is still going on, even when your child is 22 and 6'4". However, he did offer to pay for the next supermarket venture. There is that. So maybe I will sneak something into the trolley then. Hah.

I am on the home stretch with the new blanket for the lounge - half the edging to go and then the finishing off and it will be done. It is so relaxing to just crochet away in the evenings. Until you sort of nod off and then discover the next evening that the entire last row is a total mess, and have to undo it! But it has been fun to do.

The rain came last night - and the garden got a thorough soaking. The water butts are full and this morning, everything seems to be even larger. Constant soaking rain is SO good for the garden.

OK, people - I need to go out into the garden and potter a little while. Have a lovely Saturday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hello, Friday......

Well.

I can safely say that doing pilates for the first time one day and following it with a more strenuous than usual aquarobics session the next day is not a really cool idea. Even when the aquarobics is followed by a gloriously relaxing session in the spa. Bubbles are wonderful things when they are accompanied by warm water and dim lighting.

One is finding moving a bit of a challenge today. Actually, one discovered moving was not an option when one rose from the chair to leave house group last night.

So maybe we will give marathon running, training for the 100m Olympic sprint, or entering the iron (wo)man thingy a miss for now. Oh, and moving at all.

Speaking of the Olympics..... What a farce this ticket application business is. I applied for 2 tickets in the ballot. I did not get them. I then get the chance to apply for random sports today. From 6am. You will be happy to know that every single ticket/event says "currently unavailable". Not that I was actually going to bother, which is just as well as it turns out, but I wanted to see what there was. You could only apply today if you applied last time and got nothing. That would be me. So we will go on holiday instead. Or watch on TV. But there are a great many really irate people in the country today.

 But there are other things to lighten the mood, of course, and here are some of the latest garden photos. I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me.
 This is one of the hanging baskets. There are 14 in the garden and one in the front of the house, next to the door. Partially obscuring the doorbell. Well, 2 of them in the garden at the back of the house have tumbling tomatoes in them, so they are not as pretty, but the tomatoes will be wonderful.
 One of the containers at the front door. See that green stuff up there on the top right? French beans. There is another one on the other side of the door. They grow beautifully in this really sunny spot. Doesn't everyone have beans growing at their front door? Why not?
 I just love this rose. I can't remember what it is called, but all those shades in the sunlight.... beautiful.
And the second of the lilies is flowering now. The yellow ones are out as well. I can't think why I didn't take a photo. I love lilies. There are about 40 in the garden. I did say I tend to overplant things, didn't I - you have NO idea how much I have crammed in. Forget all the rules for gardening. I do my own thing. If anyone says "Do you want any (insert random plant name)?" My response is "Yes, please!". Of course. And I squish it in somewhere. Or find another pot.

At this moment out there, there are big fat courgettes hanging over the edge of the pots, beans dangling from the plants, sunflowers climbing towards the sky, roses in bud and roses blooming, colour bursting out of the troughs and pots and beds of flowers, peas ripening on the vines, seeds popping their heads above the soil, lobelia and million bells cascading over the sides of baskets, lilies bursting open, cosmos growing tall and strong and waving their feathery heads about in the breeze, broad beans growing heavy, hostas growing ever bigger, lavender scenting the air as I brush past it, herbs on my finger tips as I crush a leaf or two to get the aroma, tomatoes appearing as the flowers die. And so much more. I sit under my apple tree, listening to the little birds, and watch the sunlight warming the soil, and I smile.

I know I talk too much about the garden.

I do believe there may be a chance of a BBQ this weekend, people. Apparently the weather is about to become summery again. The sun may be shining at the moment, but the rain will be here after lunch. Just as the tennis is due to start. But tomorrow, Sunday, Monday.... all will be good, and the TV actually had the numbers 30 on the chart for Sunday. A miracle. I had to put on the glasses to check I wasn't delusional.

Time to go and finish crocheting the new blanket for the lounge. In the summer colours. Just because I can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The odd number dilemma........

Warning! This may not be a comfortable RCR read........

International Widows' Day - did you know that the United Nations declared today, 23June 2011, to be the first ever official International Widows' Day? There is an overwhelming need to bring the world's attention to the plight of women all over the world, whose diverse cultures at times mean that the death of their husbands signifies ostracism from society, homelessness, abuse, poverty and worse. Can it get any worse? Yes, it can. There are stories out there which make me want to be sick. And all this ON TOP of the devastation of the loss of their husbands, the fathers of their children.

The forgotten people.

But I am going to focus, not on the women in countries around the globe battling for survival in the cruelest, most inhumane of societies, uneducated, on the streets, ill.......

No.

I am going to talk about the forgotten women down the road from you right now.

Widows.

Do you chat to them at church and ask them how they are and listen to what they don't say?
Do you look beyond the smile at the empty eyes?
Do you ask them to dinner parties, or just to a girls' lunch out?
Do you include them on planned trips away with groups of friends (couples)?
Do you only ask them to dinner when you ask other single women?
Do you think they should be just fine because it is a while since their husbands died?
Do you wonder how they manage?
Do you understand how difficult and intimidating it can be to go to events alone?
Do you check on them when the weather turns wild?
Do you call to chat?

An endless list. This is just a little start to it. Some widows I know say that people they were once close to as couples no longer have anything to do with them. Others only get invited to girls only events. So many stories of things changing. Some people fear asking single women round. What? Unbelievable.

Widows notice these things, and stay silent, and hurt, you know. And at times, they may weep bitter tears for all they have lost. Silently, where no-one can see. And then they go out, smile brightly at the world, and die inside. It is not just the loss of a husband, you see. It is the loss of everything which made up their lives. And when friends go too, life gets very, very grey. There is a blog called Widow's Voice where 7 widows write each week. And another one - A Widow's Might and they are both full of stories which may not be all that comfortable to read, but they are real. Powerful. And they are places widows feel connected, and welcome. There is a lot of laughter there too. And tears as well.

Back to the questions I was asking......

The list is long, and bittersweet.  Odd numbers are difficult, you see. And things change in so many ways when a husband dies. So many assumptions. So many misconceptions.

Asking anyone for help is always going to be difficult. Pride and self protection. Not wanting to intrude. Be a nuisance. The "I can cope" syndrome. Having to cope. Maybe not being able to afford workmen to do the things their husbands used to do. Widows can't afford to be wimps. There are heavy things to be lifted. Lawns to be mowed. Spiders to be dispatched. Mice to catch. Painting to be done. Furniture to be moved.

My heart aches for all the young women who are widows - the ones who have lost their soldier husbands, who are out of army accommodation faster than you can say Jack Rabbit, and left to fend for themselves. Often with tiny children. Things are supposed to be changing, but in this era of austerity, widows get a really lousy deal.

We are commanded to look after the widows in our society, you know. Check out 1Timothy 5:3. It is not only the ones in far off lands who may need help. The one down the road, old, young or in between, may need you too. Friendship is the best kind of support you can offer. The real kind.

If any widow you know stops entertaining, think...... maybe she can't afford to? Maybe her confidence has taken a knock? It is not that easy to entertain guests, cook, and do it all when there is just one of you. Practicalities.

I am lucky. I have survived things changing in the blink of an eye. I have friends and family around. But there are many - so many, who don't. They need you. And you. And you. And you. Long after the first few days or weeks. Or months. Or years.

And the universal truth here is that no-one has a clue. Not until it happens to you. Remember what I said all those years ago? It is like being in a strange land where you don't speak the language, have no guide books and don't know where to go or what to do, or how to do it.

Widowhood is a scary place.

And we all know that things get less scary when you are not alone.

And to all my widowed friends out there - you amaze me, inspire me, and make me laugh till I cry. None of us asked to join this society, did we? But I am glad you are there. I salute you all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pilates discovered......

I started a pilates class today. I have never been to one before. I have been to yoga, but this was new for me, and even though you are not bouncing and leaping about, good grief, you use muscles. Thankfully, the really lovely young teacher knows all about neural damage, and gave me an exercise to practice. She also told me that my neural network would be confused after the class, and believe me, it is. It kept trying to compensate.

It was really odd, you know.... I could lie on the floor, and raise my bad leg in the air with my head and shoulders off the ground. But when it came to the good leg, my head crashed back on the floor and nothing I did could get it to lift. Weird. But when I asked about it, that was when she told me the neural whatsits were confused and fighting back. Rewiring the brain is a tough business, people. I need to practice marching. Left right left right with opposite legs and arms. It is quite a while since I did that, and the neural thing has forgotten.

So I have a headache. I think the neural things are in a tizz. Tingling and pins and needles and goosebumps are the order of the day and it is not comfortable, but if I regain some control ultimately, it is all worth it. And we most certainly worked the core muscles. They have been rediscovered. I did stifle mild hysteria when she told us to put our hands on our rib cages (!!!!) and feel them moving. Hmmmm. I felt an awful lot which did not in any way shape or form remember bony bits. Not that I aspire to be bony. I can't think of anything worse. I remember in my very skinny days, I found sitting in the bath impossible. It hurt the bony bits. We will not be returning to those days. That, let me add, was just before David arrived. We have been cushioned ever since.

So I came home, and decided it was time to hang up those remaining hanging baskets. David and I managed to get them up. I was a little alarmed when the hammer drill made the one brick shift a bit, but the house is still standing, thank heavens, and the baskets are in place. It was like surgery - "Scalpel (drill), hammer (retractor), screw (needle), bracket (swab), screwdriver, drill...." And they were slapped into my hand. I had a very able assistant.

So, the tennis is on, and the kettle just boiled, and my neural thingies and I will be retiring to the couch for a nap while we watch the tennis. I look at the grey skies outside and hope in vain for rain, but the clouds scoot across the sky, and the sun re-emerges. Teasing us. We really need a week or two of gentle soaking rain. Even though that may play havoc with the tennis. Our poor farmers.

Aiyaiyai.... so much I want to do and while the spirit is willing, the body is not co-operating. Naps are good. Power naps.

 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brackets, magazines, feet and videos......

The longest day today - or the shortest night. And finally, at 8pm, the sun is shining. Tennis on TV, and all quiet on the home front.

I went back to see the podiatrist today, and I will be getting permanent inserts for my shoes in a month's time. They have been ordered. Hopefully I will not need them permanently. He will check in 4 months time and see how the knee is doing, and then we will decide. He also modified a few of the exercises I am doing at the gym, and his reasons made perfect sense, so I will change them. I did ask about the pain in my feet - the outsides are meeting the ground where they have never done so before, and I cannot describe how painful it can be, but he said they will be OK. Right. We will see. I am the crone you see hobbling along.

So the highlight of the day has been the acquisition of some brackets for the remaining hanging baskets from the 99p store. They have yet to grace my walls, but I have them. This is progress. I also found some small ones to hang all my garden paraphernalia on in the sale at the local shop for 50p each, so that was a bargain of the highest order. AND I finally found a copy of Molly Makes, the new crafty magazine. I have looked all over the place for a copy, so that was wonderful. I have just glanced through it, but there are some great ideas. I may need to invest in one or two as they come out. I gather they are on sale in the US too, and I know Sandra found a copy and loves it.

There are sweetpeas on my tables, and we are munching our way through the vegetables the garden is producing. I don't know when last I actually bought any. This is what I LOVE about summer and having a garden. I can't wait for the tomatoes to grow and ripen too. A good idea Jean has - if you have a tomato which tastes great, squeeze a few pips onto some roller towel, and let them dry in the sun. Next year, plant the roller towel. Her mother did that all her life, and always had the best tomatoes. So that is what I am doing too. I just write the name of the tomato and the date on the roller towel, and when it is dry, it goes in my seed basket.

David spent the morning trying to get the links up to copy our family videos onto the computer to save. well. The cables had the wrong ends, so we got some right parts, and then were all set to start when we found that the driver is not on the supplied CD, and the link to the website does not work. frustration at its best. we decided to leave it for Andrew to sort out. Clearly we are missing a link somewhere. But it was good fun to watch an old video of David at one year old. Hilarious. I would love to take snippets from all the home videos and make a movie for my children. Hopefully I will be able to, once I learn how, of course, and once the videos are copied. Andrew? I need help!!

Time to go and play with the crochet hook again..........

Monday, June 20, 2011

Imagination..........

It has just started raining, and the roof is closed at Wimbledon, so at least some tennis carries on! I finished watering the garden 45 minutes ago. Why am I not surprised? But supper is over, David cleaned out the gutters this morning, I have been to gym and did my stork thing again, and I have been to have a chat to the doctor to keep her up to date. She nearly went flying over my stick, and I tried a little baton twirling with it to keep it out of her way, which reduced us both to hysterics. I aim to amuse. The bp is just fine, and so are the eyes, after she shone that little beam in to see behind them, for whatever she looks for.

This growing older bit is not for the feint hearted. I have just spent an inordinate amount of time checking to see if it is feint or faint. There seems to be a dilemma re meaning. Hmmm. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Not for sissies. Scaredy cats. YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG.

Oh move on, Linds, this is ridiculous......

It is so dark outside, I have to switch on the lights and it is 7pm in midsummer. It is midsummer tomorrow, I think. And so it should be sunny and bright till late. But Wimbled..... Exactly.

Do you remember  my jaunt down memory lane a few days ago? I mentioned that TV only arrived in SA in the early 1970s. And I started thinking about how the radio played such a huge part in our lives. Here in the UK, the pay TV channels, like Sky buy up the rights to screen major sporting events, so apart from the Grand Prix, a little football, and Wimbledon, if you don't pay for satellite or cable, you don't see anything. And the general consensus is that children who are not exposed to sport on the world stage won't play it. I used to think that too.

Until I wandered down memory lane.

I grew up listening to the radio. I knew exactly how to play cricket from listening to Charles Fortune describing the game, the ground, the birds in the sky, the lot. And when I did start going to cricket, it was all familiar. Rugby?? The same. The 25 yard line became the 20metre line, but I learned all about it from the radio. If we wanted to watch sport, there was school sport every Saturday morning in every school in the land, and apart from that,  I played tennis, badminton, hockey, netball, and did swimming and gym, all at school (compulsory).

But you know what occurred to me today - just how much radio stimulated the imagination. I visualised everything I heard, from sports to plays, to current events. To (and here my SA friends of my age will remember this) Mark Saxon, and Sergei Krimilko. No Place to Hide. Springbok Radio. The Creaking Door.  Castle Playhouse. Deadline Thursday Night. Consider your Verdict. Squad Cars "they prowl the empty streets at night"....... You have NO idea how much exercise the imagination got! Marge and I have been talking about this just now, and we both remembered that Mark Saxon was on at 7.15pm, and we never missed it. But if you had asked us to describe the characters, we would have totally different ideas. Our individual imaginations interpreted the characters in unique ways.

If we wanted to see movies, we walked down the road on a Saturday afternoon to the Scala cinema matinee, where we paid 33cents back then for the good seats, and we saw whatever was playing. It was always packed. And believe me, we saw some diverse movies. From Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald (and this was in the 60s) (and who can forget..."When I'm calling yooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" in Rose Marie) to Walt Disney, to westerns, to just about anything. Then the advent of Cinerama - The Way West was the first cinerama movie I saw on a wide screen. Ooooh! The excitement!

The first movie I remember seeing as a child, was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and it is still a favourite, you know. Flipper was another early movie, and also Born to Sing, about the Vienna Boys Choir. Those were Special Movies, which you had to go into town to see at the big theatres. And they were real theatres, which were used for ballet, plays, opera as well. So exciting. With boxes, circles, and upper circles, and the Alhambra had a ceiling which looked like stars at midnight. Magical. I saw my first ballet there when I was very small, or was it at the Metro..... The Royal Ballet was touring and we saw Swan Lake. I remember loving it all. My mother remembers me wanting to get something to eat and not sitting still. I prefer my version. And I still remember it, so of course I am right!

Cape Town, by the time I was a student, had an opera house complex, which also included a beautiful theatre, and while my children were little, we went to everything. They grew up going to ballet, opera, theatre. Their schools arranged visits as well, just as mine did throughout my school days, and back then, if you went to the Opera House, you wore black tie and evening dresses. Oh, I loved it all. It made evenings out very special.

But back to the radio and imagination. Inspiration. We underestimate how important imagination is nowadays I think. In this world of 2011, it is all provided. Don't you sometimes go to see a movie after reading a book you have loved, and find it all wrong? I do. My imagination paints pictures in my mind, which do not always gell with those of the producer. Sometimes, I choose not to see a movie, in case it spoils the story for me. Books.... such treasures for children, and for adults alike. And it doesn't matter how old you are, an active imagination which uses all the colours of the spectum to paint pictures in the mind, is a real blessing.

Maybe a little less of the TV and a little more of the radio may be a very good thing........ And I wonder how many children know about radio? Not the music channels - of course they will know those ones, but the plays. BBC Radio 4 here. Are there even children's programmes any more? It would be really interesting to take a group of children, play a story tape to them, and ask them to describe the characters. Differences. Ideas. Colours.

Imagination......

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Zapping through the weekend......

Ah, the joys of ONE day of not having to water the garden! It also happened to be the day I thought it was a good idea to wash the bed linen. I have no idea what I did with my mind. It rained cats and dogs all day, so the house looked like a Chinese laundry. The new word in decor, obviously. And the worst bit? I forgot to make the bed until I hauled myself up the stairs at midnight and saw the duvet and pillows on the floor. Not my finest moment. You'd think I would at least remember to make up the bed. The memory has a lot to answer for, it seems. Jean, David and I made a valiant effort to go down to the allotment and do some work early in the morning. Our effort lasted long enough to plant 3 pots of beans into the ground, and then the rain came back and we departed at speed.

It was also the annual carnival in the village, and so, in a way, it was inevitable that it would rain. This year I did not make any effort whatsoever to go and partake of carnival delights. Not even the promise of tea and scones at Jean's could prise me out of the house, and when Peter and Glynis arrived for tea, my reluctance to go out proved to be a great idea after all. I am a fair-weather carnival person. I am also no longer watching children in parades or on floats. And if the carnival organisers would bring back the tea tent, I may be persuaded next year, but the absence of the tea tent has Consequences. I have nothing to lure me there.

Last night, Pastor Katherine Ruonala from Australia spoke at our church, and she was absolutely wonderful. We got there at 7pm, and we left at 11, and there were still people there. It was such a special time. She tours the world speaking in huge stadiums (ii?) and yet also comes to little churches too. All she needs is an invitation. If she ever comes anywhere near you, do try to go and listen to her message. So powerful, and yet so simple, and full of joy. She was there at our morning service today as well. It is like having your soul plugged into an electrical socket and getting recharged. Wonderful.

I have just dug up another few pots of potatoes. I need to plant other stuff in the pots, because I am beginning to be irritated by seedlings still loitering about in the greenhouse. Yet 3 days ago, I planted more marigold seeds. What was I thinking of? I have had to move a few more pots of courgettes and gem squash to the front of the house. The gem squash was creeping through the flower beds, and the courgettes were elbowing the tomatoes and flowers out of the way. So the garden is on the move. I am quite happy for the gem squash to wander round the driveway. You know how at the start of spring, you can line all the pots up close together and plant seeds? Well. We are now at the "move two thirds of the pots out of the way to let the one third breathe" stage. Everything is overflowing. And then the dilemma arises - what to do with the other two thirds. Groan. Whenever David pops his head outside, he gets to trot around the garden shifting stuff. Then shifting it back, because I just can't decide what goes where. He has taken to hiding, because if he is not shifting pots, he is carrying buckets of water from the bath to the water butt. Here we are back on the water butt subject again......

Maybe another cup of coffee would help...............

It is Father's Day today, of course, and it is inevitable that thoughts of fathers no longer around flit through our minds. I remember so many Father's Days celebrated over the years! Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful Dads out there, especially my son, who is a fabulous Daddy for little Missy. She is one lucky little girlie.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A hole from nowhere.......

My day did not have a stellar start. I didn't sleep well, you see. Not until 6am and then I fell into a deep deep sleep and woke when the phone rang at 9am. Just as well it rang, or I would probably have slept the day away, and there was washing to be done etc etc etc.

And then I went to survey the garden, yanked out a giant weed, lost my balance, tripped over the grow-bag, stood on the cucumber plant, broke a pot. And came back indoors to make more coffee and contemplate the wisdom of returning to bed. As I do not in any way shape or form resemble a fairy, the cucumber may have met its maker.

Oh well.

Then I got a letter from the lawyer detailing all sorts of lawyer-y type of things I need to do, and I shoved it back in the envelope and decided next week would be fine. I don't want to know today. Why on earth can't things be simple? They made a mistake? He died? Admit it? Sort it? Over? Done?

As I said, the day has not been stellar so far. Energy levels seem to have bottomed out. I need that magic wand right now, so if anyone has a spare one, please send it my way asap.

David got his results yesterday, and I am happy to announce that he passed and will be graduating next month. I am SO proud of him. He did it. He worked hard. He has a degree in Forensic Biology.

You know, even though I am not the one who worked hard, learned, passed the exams, this is as much about me as it is about him, and maybe that has something to do with the mood today......

When Geoff died, all I could think of was needing to keep everything going while David finished school, and getting him to university, and surviving. He repeated his second last year at school because having your Dad die makes a difference to your exam results. And I found a job, ended up teaching, and got him through the last 2 years of school. Then I wrecked my knee, but he went off to university, and here we are. (Most of you have been along for the ride, because RCR really started around that time. It will be 5 years in a couple of weeks since the skies fell in. It has not always been easy....)

We made it. He did it. I got here.

His father would have been so proud.

It has been the primary focus of my life, in a way. Those people in Bath at the hospital know what they are talking about. In a sense. They have been very concerned about how I will cope when the hospital fight is over, because they said it would leave an enormous hole in my life. They were right. However, it appears that the biggest hole has opened up in front of me right now, and it is not the hospital. I wonder if it ever has been, because I have been detached from that for a long time now. Yes, I know all the facts and all the details and all the intricacies and I wish I didn't, but I have managed to relegate that to the back of my mind, and let God take the strain. He knows all about justice, and His timing is better than mine. What will be will be. And whatever happens, I will survive. Flourish. Grow. (Maybe that cucumber will too, now I come to think of it. Battered and bashed....)

No. The great big gaping hole I am teetering on the edge of today is the one which is the most important of all. From the moment Geoff died, my children were the only focus I needed. The reason for getting up and living, and looking ahead, not back. And back then, the hospital thing hadn't even started, remember. I kept plodding on, one step, day at a time, with one thing in mind. Give David every educational opportunity and the support he needed to reach maturity, just as his brother and sister had received. Time to be 17, 18, 19 and so on without the weight of the world on his shoulders. I am not talking about money as much as I am talking about emotional support, encouragement, belief, and all the multitude of other parental things we give our children as they grow up. The love goes without saying, of course. Where there were once two, there was/is only one. Me. And, necessary or not - because he is remarkably resilient, mature, and rock solid, it has been my focus.

Only I forgot. I was so busy focusing and doing that I forgot what I was doing and why. And today, there is this unanticipated hole in front of me. Well, hello. I didn't expect this.

My job as a mother will never be over. It is a lifetime thing. And I am delighted it is too. It changes daily, this mothering business. But it never ends. However, I now have 3 adult children who are educated and making their own choices and living their own lives. He joins his brother and sister, and no doubt will surprise me as much as they have. Delight me. Make me smile.

Time to step back a little and demonstrate the trust I have in my kids. Let them forge their own paths through the jungle we call life. He has the tools now. He will be just fine.

And me? I have to find my way around the perimeter of that hole, you see. I have no intention of falling into it. There may be tears of relief that it is over. But I will be smiling as they fall - I made it. Thank God. See, Geoff? I told you it would be ok, and that we would manage. Be just fine. And that you could go and head towards that light, and not look back. David did it. And I managed to pilot this little family round all those rocks and hidden dangers.

Educate my son. Tick the box.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A jaunt down memory lane.......

Hmmm. This stork stuff is going to take some getting used to.

Now what shall we talk about today? Complacency? Memories? Gardens? Wool? Cupcakes? Pinterest? Dinner? (Sausages and mash tonight. I am reverting to basics today. And fresh beans from the GARDEN, of course.)

I grew up in Africa. South Africa. Where we ran about barefoot as much as possible in the summer. Winter was a different story. There was no central heating in the houses, and I am pretty sure there still isn't. That was a time for a fire in the lounge, and hotwater bottles in the beds. Hot baths and running between the lounge, bath and leaping into bed. To read long past my bedtime by torchlight under the eiderdown. Remember eiderdowns?

There was no TV in the country until the 1970's, because it was a Communist Plot, and the people would be brain-washed. Believe me, I am serious. So we were just about the only nation on earth which did not watch the lunar landings live. We had to line up at cinemas the next day/week/month. The advent of TV coincided with my going to university, and I was far to busy doing things to bother much about it then.

I do remember seeing TV when we came to Europe on the Grand Tour for 3 months in 1966, and being fascinated. I was 11 at the time, and that was the era of the transition in reading matter. The comics - Judy, Bunty, Mandy, Princess and Tina - who remembers those? Well, they were ditched in favour of Jackie. Grown up stuff. My father was appalled. I remember a loud altercation in the lobby of a London hotel when he found out I had bought Jackie. Actually, I think I read my way around Europe. I remember my father flipping out when we were driving through the hop fields in the south screeching that he did not bring me all the way to England to have me spend the whole time with my nose in a book, and what were those fields we just drove past and what do they make??  Hops, Dad. Beer. See? I remember.

I am leaping all over the place here. There is no plan. The words will just come out as they feel like it. Growing up, I lived in the library. That is when I could not persuade my mother to buy me yet more books. In general, she never refused to buy books. However, this was a rule she made before she realised I read super fast and could bankrupt them. So my friend, Cheryl, and I used to haunt the library. In those days, libraries were dark places, and they had a centre counter, and shelves of books. Dark brown shelves. Tall. Maybe a table or two. Nothing bright at all. Cheryl and I read every single book in the children's section, and then we wanted to move on to the adult section, but the librarian was unimpressed. We were under 12. No way. However, she did relent after a while and, if she approved, we could read some adult books.

Cheryl and I are still bookaholics. I still feel uneasy when I go into a home and can't see any books anywhere. And I cannot imagine not having a pile of unread books waiting for me to dip into. When I was dreaming about Kindles, I spent a long time checking out old favourites from when I was a child, and I cannot tell you how excited I was to see that the Bobbsey Twins was available. I had to call Cheryl, and we shrieked with delight. (Yes, I know - it does sound a little odd.) And does anyone remember the Chalet School books? I loved them. I wish they were available cheaply now too.  I was so caught up in them as a child, that I dreamed of having a school in the Alps. I designed the school building plan, timetables, uniforms, rules, the lot. A boarding school. I also dreamed of going to boarding school. Darryl Rivers had a wonderful time at Mallory Towers, after all.  (Enid Blyton.)

Sigh. Fun memories.

I had a floppy doll - one of the very first ones with a material body and plastic head, arms and legs. Victoria Emily. She is still around, although her hair had an unfortunate encounter with something and looks rather odd. My kids played with her. Missy can too. And Barbie. And Skipper. They were new-fangled things, and buying their clothes was SO exciting. Those pink cards or boxes were a delight. In those days, we each had one Barbie. We didn't need dozens. My Skipper had red hair, like me. She also had an unfortunate encounter with a pair of scissors when I was in my "let's practice hairdressing" phase as a child. I was not happy with the resulting hairdo, but tough. I had a scalped Skipper and was not getting another one. I still have her too, you know. Somewhere in the attic. Maybe her hair is in fashion now. Poor thing - she must be at least 46 by now. I know Moregranny was alive when I got her, because she knitted the most beautiful dresses for her on tiny needles. There is NO way I could or would ever do that now.

I loved playing tennis. We all learned tennisette at school, and then I went to Leon Norgarb's Tennis School on a Saturday morning in Rondebosch when we graduated to proper racquets. My friends all went too. I used to dream of tennis fame as I hit the ball on the kitchen wall repeatedly, (and occasionally the kitchen window) at home. Waiting to be discovered. Barefoot, of course. We had a long tarred driveway, and it was ideal for playing tennis. And for riding bikes - my children learned to ride there too. And we had a lovely in ground swimming pool, where I perfected my backflip. For some reason, after a few months, I could not do it without hitting my head on the wall. Strange that. So I stopped. And practiced swimming lengths under water instead.

We made houses out of sun umbrellas, which we lowered to their lowest point, and then pegged towels around the edges. They worked perfectly. I tell you, we were very inventive. I taught myself to play the guitar. My family had to put up with many long anguished hours of Swannee River as I learned. And I still play a little today. I spent years in the church music group here in the middle of England.

Granny taught us card games, which we used to play on a Sunday when we went there for lunch, after she had read us stories from Grimm's Fairytales - which is here behind me in the bookcase, waiting to be read to my own granddaughter too one day. While sucking a Mint Humbug. The sticky kind.

Granny always cooked roast mutton for Sunday lunch, and I remember being in the kitchen after the meal, watching her mince up some of the left over meat, and then shoving the bread down the mincer, fastened to the edge of the table, to clean it out. And cherry jelly with hot custard? My uncle's favourite. I could do a post or 97 about the food from my growing up years.

Record players....... I had a little box one, and the lid came off, and stood up - the speaker, and it played 45s. I graduated to a stereo one which played 33s (LPs) when I went to university. I remember getting the little one for a birthday present, and guess what the first record I got was? It's a Man's World. My father had a sense of humour - well, the poor man lived in a house with a wife and 2 daughters, so he had to try!

I started talking about movies, and theatre and opera, and then decided that that could wait. I think this is enough of the wandering down memory lane for today.

But it has been fun!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shawl....

Hi, Anonymous! ( I would love to know your name - you could call yourself any name you prefer, by the way - loads of bloggers use other names!)

The shawl is easy. REALLY easy, and simple for a beginner. Just cast on any number of stitches, but make sure they are in multiples of 3.

I cast on 63 stitches (because it looked about right) and used size 7 knitting needles, UK size.(Because they were the first two matching ones I found.) And I used ordinary DK wool. Because I had two 100g balls here, and I stopped when the wool came to an end. Random is my second name.

So the first row, I knitted 3 plain and 3 purl, repeating this to the end of the row. The next row, I started 3 purl, and then 3 plain 3 purl etc  to the end of the row. Then 3 plain 3 purl etc for the next row. .

Then the next row, I knitted 3 plain 3 purl, Row 5 was 3 purl three plain and row 6 3 plain 3 purl.

To simplify:

Cast on 63 stitches.
Row !: *3 plain, 3 purl* repeat to end of row.
Row 2: *3 purl, 3 plain* repeat to end of row.
Row 3: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 4: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 5: *3 purl 3 plain* repeat to end of row
Row 6: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 7: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 8: *3 purl 3 plain* repeat to end of row
Row 9: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 10: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row
Row 11: *3 purl 3 plain* repeat to end of row
Row 12: *3 plain 3 purl* repeat to end of row.......etc etc etc keep going until it is as long as you want it to be.

See the pattern? It looks like a basket weave, and after the first 3 rows, it is easy to check what you are doing. It worked just fine with 63 stitches, so maybe you could cast the same number so I can be sure you will sail along merrily.

And you don't need to do a border. You could make tassles if you want to. But borders are optional extras, and I just wanted to make one! Good luck, have fun, and let me know if you have any questions.

Summer days......

 Just in case you got the idea that there was nowhere to sit and relax in my garden, here is evidence that seats abound.

 This is where I love to sit, under my leaning apple tree. In the shade. I haven't got anywhere to hang those 2 hanging baskets. Yet.
 Sandra made some of these Mary go rounds last week, so I had a go too, and they are super quick and easy to do. You crochet round bangles, and it is just 3 rows!
And here is the prayer shawl. Knitted (yes, this is Linds speaking) in sets of 3 stitches. With an invented crocheted border (trial and error works) and beads (even more trial and error and much stringing of beads onto wool which meant breaking it to get them on and then sewing in a multitude of ends) but we will ignore the learning process part, won't we. I am happy with the way it turned out. Me. Knitting. Good grief.

I am perfecting my stork impersonation. While standing on a foam half pipe wobbly thing. It looks simple but HAH. It is not. So all those people dancing about at a furious pace in the gym may look impressive, but so is standing on one leg on a piece of foam.

Just as well I am not competitive.

And then, Jean and I went to take a carload of books and old tv sets to the charity place, and had coffee. I may not mention the lemon cheesecake which completely undid the time standing like a stork.

Home, and a lovely long chat to a friend. An old friend. We met when our boys started school, and as they are 34 now, that was a long time ago. It is always such a delight to chat to her, and even better that she lives in the UK too, although down on the Isle of Wight, which is not exactly round the corner. Nice to know she is in the same country! Oh, how we laughed at some memories. Special times.

It is the most beautiful day today - the sun is shining and the skies are blue, and there is no wind. I am doing battle with bindweed in the front garden, and a friend suggested putting sticks into the ground and letting the wretched weed climb them, then kill it. Hmmm. Not sure quite how that works, but I can do the sticks in the bed bit and see. The neighbours will think I am planting stunning tall things. At least it is green.

Summer days. Doors and windows open. Birds tweeting. Plants drooping in the heat. Bees buzzing about. Sounds of voices in the gardens. Cold drinks. Towels drying in the sun.

Time to be lazy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A photo or two......

 The sky did not fall in. I actually downloaded the photos from my camera, and nothing blew up. A miracle. The living room is in Summer Mode, and the greens and yellow of Spring are packed away. I kept it cool and neutral this time, and I love it.



 And here are some photos of the roses. Just amazing this year.




 As I have said, the garden is really small, but there is a huge amount in it. The top terrace (well, you go up 3 steps to it!!) has most of the vegetables and loads of flowers too, and I keep the patio outside the french doors relatively clear, so granddaughters can play, and washing can dry and watering cans can be filled. Etc etc etc.
 Potatoes on the left, with french beans behind them. Peas on the right, with courgettes, gem squash, cucumbers etc behind them. Little greenhouse with the tomato greenhouse behind it, and more tomato plants in front and beside it. Flowers at the end, on the shelves, on the walls. Everywhere.

More peas on the left, parsley behind the flowers, and sunflowers and cosmos and sweetpeas climbing. Peppers, basil, and more lettuces and rocket in the greenhouse. Smaller ones waiting to be planted. And more flowers.

It looks so much prettier in reality. Especially when the sun shines on it all.

This morning, we went to the gym. Jean, Glynis and me. Jean went to do her exercises, and Glynis and I had out induction sessions. I had the most delightful young man to draw up my plan. He has focused on the balance, and core muscles, and DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY MUSCLES YOU USE TO BALANCE ON ONE SLIGHTLY BENT LEG????

I can feel each and every one of them right now. I told him all my muscles have gone on holiday. He informed me that they had a return ticket and would be back very soon. How nice. I tell you, it took me .0001 second to get that steely glint of determination in my eye. He showed me an exercise which he said I may be able to do in a few weeks. Hah. I did it today. Stood like a stork on a half-pipe foam thingy which wobbled for 30seconds. On each leg. Oh, the sense of achievement. We are not aiming for the Olympics, people. We are aiming for 30 seconds on one leg without toppling off. And I was good. No overdoing things.

Anyway. We have booked an aquarobics class. It is called Liquid Bliss. I suspect that the bliss part may escape us for a while. But onwards and upwards.

I will post more photos tomorrow, and will take some of the prayer shawl too. Flopping time, now.......

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rainy days.......!

There is a roast cooking away in the oven, and the house smells divine. Sunday. Hallelujah, we have rain today! Just drizzling rain, but I live in hope that the water butts (yes, them again) will fill up, and more to the point, seeing that it is decidedly not tropical out there, I won't have to water the garden today. Instead, I can burrow under the fleece on the couch and play with wool. Sounds good to me.

I would do some sewing, or quilting, but that requires access to the sewing room. Not an option right now. So wool it is. The prayer shawl is finished and it is beautiful. I beaded a border, which I had crocheted and it worked. It took about 10+ attempts to get it right, but I am really pleased with the result. I will take photos. I promise. Maybe this week will be the download week. Where I pluck up the courage to download something. At the moment, the computer is faster than normal, because, apart from some bookmarks, there is absolutely nothing on it. I must say that I am already a fan of Google Chrome. IE pales into insignificance beside it.

I have been creaking a bit these last few days. Well, the last week or so actually. Really battling to walk with anything close to ease. Not great. But that has meant that I have been sitting and doing other stuff. There are always others in a worse position, though. Last night, I went to watch my young friend Julia's award winning movie at her parents' home. This was her dissertation project, as cinematographer, and it was absolutely stunning. Moving. Beautiful. It won a national award here in the UK. And one of my friends there to watch it too is waiting for a major back op or two, and is in agony. We compared painkillers, as one does.

Today is Pentecost, of course. Church this morning was wonderful, and I want to tell you about a couple of things our vicar said. One is that maybe we are not thirsty enough. Jesus said - come to me if you are thirsty.  Life is actually quite cushy, we are in control/can fix it ourselves/ have it sorted. We are not needy enough. Not thirsty enough.  And not happy to admit neediness, or thirst. Hmmm. Very true. That in itself throws up a great many thoughts.
And another thing - Jesus said streams of living water. He did not mention ponds, or pools or puddles, for that matter. Ponds can become stagnant. He said streams. Rivers. They move constantly, and flow through us and out of us into the community. If we keep the water in a pool, it loses everything.

Things to ponder on the couch this afternoon.

He said a great deal more too - about how the disciples did not retreat to a back room once the Holy Spirit descended, and have a committee meeting, or create sub-committees which met for a couple of years deferring decisions and creating rules. Sound familiar? It does to me. They barrelled out there and spread the word. Mission started that day.
Full steam ahead and full of fire. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be?

There was loads to think about.

On a more familiar and mundane subject - I dug up 4 pots of potatoes. I have dozens. I dug them up because they looked appalling and offended my gardener's eye. The reason they looked awful, I discovered,  is that they were ready to be eaten. That hot spell in March /April sort of accelerated things a bit. So the harvest has begun already! And I now have somewhere to plant the flowers and lettuce in the greenhouse too.

I just checked the roast. Lunch may be supper after all. Quite a way to go. Maybe a nap is in order.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beads and assorted other pearls.......

I went to Hobbycraft this morning. That was a fiscal disaster. I had been on an emergency dash to get a friend's son to school for his Maths GCSE exam, which he thought started at 1.30pm, not 9.30AM, and decided to recover from the adrenalin rush by popping in to see what was on offer once I dropped him at the school doors. If I tell you that the call came at 9.17am and I had to get to his house in the next village before 9.30 so that he was supervised at all times until I screeched to a halt at the school doors, and handed him over to the teacher waiting for him, you will understand the adrenalin rush thing. Hunched over the steering wheel zooming down the dual carriage way, telling the child to breathe, relax, just do his best....... He was late, but he got there. Mission accomplished.

So on to Hobbycraft. Their beads were half price because they were being discontinued. Well. I may need thousands of beads. You never know. It was my duty to aid the economy, I feel. If there is ever a global shortage of beads, you know where to come. I have this grand idea of adding beads to the edging of the prayer shawl, you see. However, I have NO idea how you crochet in beads. YouTube. I need to check YouTube. What on earth did we do before the advent of YouTube?

(In case you are confused, yes, I knitted the shawl, but I am crocheting an edge.) (If it doesn't work, I will make another plan.)

We are officially in the middle of a drought. It was on the news this morning. 5 counties so far, and more almost there. According to the weather forecast, it is supposed to rain on and off all day. Well, let me tell you that the skies may be grey, and the wind may be cold, but there is zero precipitation. And I can't believe I am saying this, but I wish it would just rain. Soak the garden, and fill my water butts. I am obsessing about those water butts. I need another one. I am eternally grateful that David is home and can carry the buckets of water down stairs from the bath every day. The more the garden grows, the more water it needs. Mind you, it wouldn't grow if I didn't water so much, would it? Hmmm. Maybe I can put it on a water diet. Slowly.

I think not. I love my garden. But you have heard that a time or twenty.

What else can I tell you......

  • Petrol prices are soaring again, and apparently could reach £2.00 a litre by the end of the year. I need to find a donkey or something. And a cart. 
  • Gas and electricity prices are soaring. I need to make more quilts, and buy a supply of coal for the BBQ or start chopping up furniture.
  • Food prices are soaring because of the petrol, gas and electricity prices soaring. And the drought. And because profit is the name of the game. I need to stop eating.
  • We have a strawberry glut at the allotment. I can live on strawberries.
  • And lettuce.
  • I have Amazon gift vouchers and I cannot bring myself to spend them. It is such a wonderful feeling knowing that I COULD buy things!
  • I finished that book. I still think I need to have a chat with the author. 
  • My house is in chaos, but I really don't mind right now. As long as the lounge is clear and the guest loo is tidy, it is all fine.
  • I am scraping the barrel here.
I am now going to work out how to watch catch up TV. On my son's old laptop. On the couch. With coffee. And my crochet hook and a tray of beads. I WILL learn how to crochet in beads. I WILL. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Friendship......

I have just dug up the first pot of potatoes and there are real potatoes there. A miracle. The leaves looked dreadful, but that didn't affect the potatoes, thank heavens. And there are 11 more pots to go. Sigh. I love this time of year when I can start gathering food from my garden. The old hunter-gatherer thing, I suppose. Well, the gatherer part. I am not hunting anything. And Glynis and I have been to the gym to hand in the letters, and booked our induction sessions too. I also had a word with the physiotherapist who said "CR what?" So we are skipping that option. A very nice man, who after a short conversation, said he would go and learn more if I needed him to do so, but really, I think I have enough input from everyone who has tried to help in the past 3 years.

Yes, it is 3 years on the 20 June since I wrecked my knee. I could hardly believe it. Three long years. However, I am still here and still me, and still walking, so that is good.

I have nearly finished a book called Friendship for Grown-ups by Lisa Welchel. I don't know whether it is my mood, or the weather or the whatever, but I have battled with this book. I have not dropped it in the bath yet, but there have been times when I have been tempted to throw it on the floor. There are parts which are excellent, but other parts which make me want to call her and suggest a chat. How many of you have read it? And what did you think?

Friendship is something which is so important, especially for women. And it can save the sanity at times. It certainly has played a huge part in my life. Being married to a man who spent 9 months of the year away at sea made friendships vital for me. And I have been incredibly blessed with the friends I have made along the way. Some friends come and go, and some stay forever. As I am sure I have said before, friends are there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Whoever coined that phrase knew what they were talking about.

Perhaps because I am gregarious, talk a lot and like people, I have found it easy to make friends. I don't set out with a goal of acquiring them, they happen. The talking. That must be it. There are friends who know me really, really well, deep dark secrets and all, and then those who know the parts of me I let them see. It varies. Friends who step forward unhesitatingly, and those who step back at really unfortunate times. We are all human, and that is inevitable. There is no such thing as perfection.

I am really lucky to have people around who are quite capable of saying "Stop, you stupid woman, what do you think you are doing" as well as those who can see hesitation  or uncertainty at times, and encourage me. I like to think I do the same for them. I certainly hope so.

At times, though, and here I may be treading on dangerous ground, you will meet someone who is not able to share friendship. Where having more than one friend becomes a threat to them. Where the friendship starts consuming you alive. Where you end up focusing on trying to help them to the exclusion of all else, and here I am also saying that trying to "fix" someone is not an option. I am old enough to know that this is futile and totally out of order.

The best way on earth to make friends is to be you. To not pre-judge people. To assume they are lovely people. To be open to conversations. To listen more than you talk (and coming from me that is a mega part.....the talking, remember.) To relax and smile. It takes a while before you can start confiding in people, and some people will never be close enough for you to let them past the walls we all construct to protect ourselves.

I am interested in people. Their differences. This is probably why I started blogging, now I come to think of it. I wanted to find women around the world and get to know them. And my blogging friends, who occupy a special little corner of their own in my heart, of course, come from all places, all ages, all backgrounds, and are just the best.

But I am not trying to issue an how-to  list here, because we all start from different places, don't we. I don't know, in all honesty, what desperation for a friend feels like. I am well acquainted with loneliness, but I am lucky enough to know that there are people out there who I matter to.Who care. I know I can pick up the phone and call someone. I know my sister is there. My family. I don't know what it feels like to be isolated. And in fact, I like the solitariness too at times. I am happy with my own company. And boredom will never be an issue. Too many things to do in too little time, if I look at the years ahead.

Having interests usually mean there will be chances to meet people with similar ones, and that is a great foundation for a fledgling friendship. Some will fizzle out, but some may not.

I moved countries/hemispheres. But I had friends around. The ones I left have not disappeared. I was skyping with one of my oldest friends just 2 nights ago, as she sat in her coastal home in SA, and I sat here in middle England. And the conversation was as easy as it would have been had I lived round the corner. And Linds and I do the same when we chat - New Zealand can feel very close. If they ask how I am, I know they really want to know the answer. These are the friends where pretence is not an option.

Another thing - even the best and closest of friendships do not have to be deep to be meaningful. Deep is good. So is meaningful. But the most important thing about friendship, to ME is the ability to laugh till I cry, and to cry till I laugh with someone. To anticipate. To be in the background. To be the one bringing the bags of essentials when the sky falls in. Making the tea.

Actually, the best of friends help me to remember who I am, you know. When I get bogged down, as we all do at times, they are the ones with the memories of the woman/girl/child I was once, and they remember the essentials. What would I do without them? I have no idea.

This has morphed into something considerably longer than I anticipated. It is such a huge subject and of necessity, it is subjective. My perspective, based on who I am, and my experience. Everyone else will have different views, but I would genuinely love to hear what you think about friendship. And if you find it hard to make friends, please don't feel hurt/bad/excluded. We are all different. Your views are just as valid and important. Ahhh I love this bloggy platform where we all have voices. Use them!

Let me tell you about something which happened with Jean, my lovely friend. First, let me tell you that she is the gentlest, kindest of ladies, and would NEVER say anything nasty. Or make waves. (I am good at making waves. One of my talents.) So we were in Switzerland on holiday, and helping my brother-in-law, and I, in passing, told Jean how to do something. Well, let's be clear. I instructed her. I caught a glimpse of her expression (she was not thrilled) and had to zap out fast because I wanted to roar with laughter. Why? Because she was CROSS with me. EUREKA!!! So when she had calmed down a little, I said - with a grin - our friendship just moved into the realms of reality. Why? Because she could be mad as a wet hen and I wouldn't run away. It is ok to get mad. Ok to disagree. It is ok to be real. Oh how we laughed about it, and I apologised too. It is just fine for me to love something and for my friends to loathe it.

But back to the book. It got me thinking. And here I am. Like every living thing, friendship takes work. Care. Nurturing. Being there.

But oh, is it worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Excesses, exercise and shawls......

Let me tell you, my friends - your comments have made me grin today. I like you. All of you.

There is a state of emergency in my garden right now. I have run out of pots. A friend popped round with excess vegetable plants and they are now in a holding pattern - think planes flying in circles - until I can magically enlarge my garden, find a way to grow things on the roof or, more sensibly, go down to the allotment and squash them in there. I see no reason why beans cannot grow among the potatoes. At least the potatoes down there look the way potatoes should, and not like the sorry state the ones here are in. At the same time I potted the new veg, I decided that 27 petunias in one pot was overdoing things, so I now have 27 separate petunia pot-lets and roughly the same number of calendula. Let it never be said that I am a mean gardener. I believe in plenty of seeds. The only trouble is that they all seem to be growing and I HAVE RUN OUT OF ROOM.

Sigh.

I need an estate or two.

Well, my garden is miniscule. However, I manage to fit in masses so there is no reason to moan, Linds. None at all. Mumble mutter.

David is looking quite presentable today. His hair had not been cut since January. It has been cut now. Therefore the kitchen has been vacuumed. And the sun has zapped in and out all day, so I have zapped in and out with the washing all day too. Rain, sun, rain, sun......April weather in June. It has been all mixed up this year, hasn't it.

The doctor has finally signed the medical "permission to do moderate exercise" form for the gym. She has also signed Glynis's one, so we are good to go. I need to do something about the woeful state of the core muscles asap. I remember when they were strong. Once upon a time. Long long ago. Actually, not that long ago, now I come to think about it. 5 years ago. They require urgent attention. So does the rest of me. However it is the spa which holds huge appeal right now. Bubbling water. Solarium. Bliss. Ok, so there are the aquarobics and pilates classes too, and the resident physiotherapist. I know he is in tomorrow, so I want to go and ask him what he knows re CRPS. If he knows loads, I will make an appointment with him and get him to organise a programme for me. If he looks confused, we will give him a miss. I will resemble Twiggy in no time. The combination of the gym and the lettuce glut here in the garden should work.  I can avoid all shops for the summer.

Now. Prayer shawls. I had seen one or two in Blogland, but I honestly knew nothing about them until Jean went to visit her in-laws, and a lady from their church popped in and asked if Jean's mother-in-law, who is very elderly, would like a prayer shawl for her special birthday. They explained a little about their shawl ministry, so Jean, who loves knitting, trawled the web and found out all the details. It is absolutely fascinating. She started on a complicated pattern while she was staying here, and when I was thinking about crocheting something, I decided to use some of the wool stash and knit a different pattern. It is the 3 plain 3 purl one, for 3 rows, which makes a sort of basket weave look.

Knitting is not something I do by choice. I am too impatient to follow patterns. I tend to toss them over the shoulder and knit what I think will work. I think I told you about the mohair sweater I knitted while sailing north to Europe from SA with Geoff one trip. I wore it around England for 10 days, and when we got back on board, I ripped it out and invented another one which I wore in SA. Then I ripped that one out too. I think my mother still has some of the balls of mohair somewhere. Or maybe she crocheted a blanket with it.

So knitting is not my best thing. I knit scarves. They are quick and simple. but this shawl is special, and I really am loving it. This is the website we have used and here is where the patterns are listed, together with tips and ideas. Just keep scrolling down the page. Loads of links.

But I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed knitting this shawl. It is white, and I am already planning the edging. Maybe with some beading. It is nearly finished. And maybe one day I will actually download the photos on my camera. Trust, remember. I did actually write a post re trust, but that can wait for another day.

Right. Time to deadhead things out in the garden. Then the couch will be calling. So will the knitting needles.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tuesday and a post at last......

It has been a while, hasn't it.....

I have yet to go and get a new computer so I write here with a total lack of trust in this machine. It has no files on it, because I won't upload anything. Or download the camera. Or anything much, to be frank. Paranoia is the name of the game, perhaps. I keep casting a baleful eye over it, waiting for computer mayhem. Maybe a post re trust is in the offing.

However, the blog needs words now and then, or it will die.  Although the longer I don't write, the easier it is not to, if you see what I mean. The days pass by and I think....Hmmmm. Should I?

The past week has been filled with computer stuff, and apart from getting a new camera for it because the old drivers were lost, and then it was not proving to be simple to download some from the internet, and hey, what if there are more viruses etc etc, I have had endless problems sorting out things like screensavers, sleep mode and other enthralling bits, which did not fascinate me at all, so would bore you all to death in 2 seconds flat. And that is the longest sentence in history but too bad. It stays.

Then there was the Saga of the Cupcakes for Church Coffee. My oven doesn't work, so I had planned to go to Jean's clutching the cupcake mixture to bake them for coffee after church this past Sunday. Well. I doubled the recipe and forgot to double the eggs. Oops. The cupcakes rose into the air, then crashed and glued themselves to the pan. I can bake. I really can. However, anyone watching me hack the residue out of the pans may have had their doubts. Jean started another mixture, and we both counted the eggs this time, and the second lot worked perfectly. I had also made crispie cakes - chocolate and rice bubbles mixed together. No oven required. I am forward thinking. That took most of the day, what with the shopping for ingredients, abortive attempts and driving round the village, not to mention the artistic icing in swirls.

And then, on Sunday, another lady thought she was on duty so brought cakes. Another brought excess cakes from a party the day before, and we had mountains of cake thingies. So many that I ended up bringing most of mine home. Sigh. My kids ate them, though.


  • This was a weekend when there were too many things that needed to be done and only one of me. 
  • So I didn't sing in our final concert on Sunday afternoon, which was sad, BUT 
  • I did go to Andrew and Ann's house and I had a chance to play with Missy, which was lovely.
  • Andrew did a beer can chicken BBQ which was delicious. In the rain. (You stick an open beer can up the inside of a chicken and cook it on the BBQ with the lid on, turning every 20 mins. )
  • David had to be out of his house by yesterday at 2pm, and all his things needed to be loaded into the car 
  • The house he stayed in had to be cleaned and sorted. He did 90% of it. His housemates did....... Yes. 
  • So he is now home, and recovering from all the cleaning upstairs on his bed. It may take a week or two.
  • The water butt got blocked, so that had to be emptied
  • I didn't screw the tap back in tight enough so that now drips. Dangling over the edge of the water butt is not an easy feat. 
  • It rained so the water butt filled up again therefore can't be tightened yet. But can drip at speed.
  • My sewing room is now a store room
  • My kitchen is a laundry
  • You get the picture.
So things have been occupying my mind here. The mind which seems to have very little room in it at the best of times.  I did go and look at computers and everything irritated me. The assistants. The laptops. The costs. The fact that the laptop I have been looking at for 2 years is still the same price it was 2 years ago and every other one is now cheaper faster, fancier, and yet the one I wanted is the same price it was - that REALLY irritates me. It makes no sense. I asked, and the assistant said - Sony does that. And yes, the specs are exactly the same as they were 2 years ago. They are written in my notebook every few weeks. And now maybe I don't want it any more. Maybe I want something totally different. Like a Mac. Those are way more expensive. Then I looked at new desktops. Wireless. Terabytes (Huh??) Touchscreens. And started hyperventilating, so departed for the coffee shop instead with my fingers stuck in my ears. Brain overload.

So here we are. David gave me his old laptop, but the keys sort of don't all work all the time. I wrote something and it looked like swahili. It was supposed to be English. I don't know what I want. And Heaven help me, I checked out the camera, and can say with certainty that laptops need to be at a critical angle to avoid one looking like the Bride of Frankenstein. I looked diabolical. The fact that it had rained all day and I was out in it supervising the loading of the car resulted in hair which rose at 90 degree angles from my head. That, and the fact that the make up had vanished and I was beyond tired could have contributed to the glorious vision I saw on that laptop last night. That was just before I fell asleep at 8.30pm. Maybe it was a coma.

However....

  • My garden is a delight
  • The roses have never been as plentiful or as stunning
  • I have beans, peas, spinach and lettuce ready to eat
  • Baby gem squash are emerging all over the place
  • So are the courgettes
  • The flowers are growing as I watch
  • And I cannot tell you how much I love being out there - just drinking it all in
  • The allotment is doing brilliantly too. Stuff is growing.
  • It is Glynis's birthday today and we went out for lunch. That was great.
  • My son is home for now. Who knows how long he will be here - it depends on career opportunities or further study, both of which will mean he heads off to carve his own path through life, just as his brother and sister have done. Inevitable. So these days are special.
  • The sun comes and goes
  • Medical tests are run
  • Friends pop in
  • The phone rings
  • Babies are born
  • The very first prayer shawl I have knitted (I don't knit) is coming on beautifully in the evenings (when I manage to stay awake!)
  • I am very aware of the multitude of blessings which colour my life, despite the frustrations which at times threaten my sanity, and I am oh so thankful for every single one of them.
And now and then, I remember my blog and, more specifically, all my wonderful friends out there, who have come to mean a huge amount to me. You brighten my days.

Stick around, people. I will be back.