Saturday, March 30, 2013

M&S hot cross buns, raised beds and birds.............

Good morning, everyone! Remember the bird trying in vain to build a nest on the ladder? It is still trying. There is another huge pile of debris at the bottom of that ladder. It seems to be ignoring my upstairs penthouse for now. Oh well. If it is the same bird from last year, I am assuming that the penny will drop soon. And in the meantime, the sun is trying to shine, and it is also trying to snow. I poked my head out of the door and it is freezing. Ground frozen. Soil frozen. Water anywhere frozen.

Our clocks spring forward this weekend. Tonight. I honestly hate the going forward and back and would just love the time to stay in one place, like it does in South Africa. Even though the country covers a couple of time zones, it stays still. And I am all in favour of British Summer Time being the new standard, and not GMT, even if Greenwich is, you know, right here in England. The Scottish farmers don't like the idea at all. Well, I see no problem in them having their own time zone.

We have visitors coming to stay next week, so I think that maybe I should get on with the making of the free raised bed, which is still decorating the kitchen. I need to get those 240cm lengths of wood out of the house. Never mind the fact that I need lorryloads of soil to fill them. Out is a good start. We can worry about the soil when the ground unfreezes itself.

According to the paper review on TV this morning, we could be entering a 200year cycle of freezing winters - a sort of mini ice age. However, none of us will be around to see if "they" are right. We will all be long gone by then. That leaves them free to expound their theories at length. Clever idea, that.

Unlike me, my daughter-in-law made a batch of hot cross buns yesterday. You can't buy any in Switzerland, so she produced her own. They look amazing, and by all reports, tasted wonderful. My sister would have been thrilled to bits. She LOVES hot cross buns. Me - well, I got mine from M&S because a) I can and b) M&S Food is just around a few corners and c) their luxury ones are the best you can buy. (2 packs for £2. I can afford that kind of luxury.)(Jeana? Remember them?)

Others are lovely, until you taste the  luxury variety and no, M&S are not supplying me with a crate of them for saying so, unfortunately, although that would be wonderful, of course. I live in hope.  In fact, we stopped on the way to town this morning to pick up a couple of extra packs.

Anyway. It is now later, and I have been to pay the bills, and have just finished making the ends for the free raised bed from the pallet. Then Mother had to hold the end of the planks for me to drill the holes. The weather is in a muddle. We have had snow, sleet, sun, greyness, freezing cold and then a variation of the above. This does not inspire one to trundle down to the allotment and assemble it and put it in place. The gaps in the end boards are covered with the plastic from the old cloche cover - there is a new strong one in place - and I have a new roll of weed matting ready as well. Now we just need cardboard and reasonable weather. And soil. The 7 bags could vacate the premises too. But I don't know where the giant welly boots are and I do not want mud everywhere either.

As you can see, we are all mixed up and  dithering, and should probably go and sit in the sun (it is back) and rest the brain cells and massage hand cream into the gardener's hands. Mine. Just in case you were thinking that I had secreted a gardener somewhere.

I need to step away from this keyboard this instant. Or all of you will be in a stupor.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday.............

Good Friday is meant to be quiet and reflective. In theory. Our peace was somewhat compromised at 10am by the sounds of a pneumatic drill. The council doesn't stop work on Good Friday. In fact, just about everything is open, all the shops as well. Not like when I was a child!

In SA, long ago, on Good Friday, nothing was open, and the radio (there was no TV back then) played somber music all day. Think the slowest of Bach's compositions. It is still, to me, the holiest of days. Easter Sunday is a day of joy, and Good Friday a day of wonder, gratitude, and an on your knees amazing acceptance of the enormous sacrifice made for each and every one of us. Unbelievable. Mind boggling. The biggest of gifts.

The Easter Weekend is traditionally a time in the northern hemisphere when we head into the garden and start really pottering. Hah. I dug over a few large pots and the top 3 inches of soil is frozen. Ridiculous. Snow could be falling soon too, and temps are forecast to drop to -10C in some parts. Spring? Not here.

 Mum needed me to set her hair - I am an improving hairdresser - and then I had a text from Jean and her friend Monika, who is visiting from the Caucasus. They were out for a bracing walk, and freezing, and about to arrive for coffee and hot cross buns. So I set the heating to tropical and they thawed as we ate toasted buns and drank the hot coffee. Monika really does feel the cold, so ended up wrapped in blankets even though the house was warm. Well, I thought it was. Jean thought it was. It was hysterical.

I love friends popping by,. I have said this many times. Mother retreated upstairs with the hairdryer and sat in the sporadic sun. She was quite happy. Not that any of us would mind the rollers and scarf at all. Welcome to real life at the Casa de la Rockign Chair.

After they headed off,  I went back into the garden to see how the bird trying to build a nest on my ladder was doing. The poor thing must have been trying for hours because there was a mountain of debris at the base of the ladder and as soon as it flew off for more, what it had placed on a tread, fell off.

It was trying to build too low down. The treads slope too much there. It needs to go upstairs to another floor of the apartment building. So, in an effort to show it where to go like last year, and given that birds would not be able to read a sign post, I stuffed a whole lot of the debris (think my hanging basket liners which are now history) on a higher rung.

Hmm. It may now think that an eagle is nesting there, given the amount I stuffed on it. Oh, the angst.........

2 hours later. I dug out another 7 bags of compost from the bottom of my bin to take to the allotment. Half bags. So they can be carried. And then the top half sank gracefully down, so I opened the top, and managed to dig a bucket of good stuff from the back part, and then I mixed the rest up. Sort of. With a long handled little garden spade. I am now going to gather up shredded paper, and wait for the grass cuttings to come over the fence. My neighbours give me theirs as I have no grass. And then next year's lot should be good.

 You have no idea how many worms there are in there. Billions. And I do not exaggerate, believe me. I loathe worms, but they are essential for the compost, aren't they, so I try to ignore them.


I am now feeling as though spring is here, and quite virtuous. Just because of the garden bit and the 7 bags all in a row, never mind the temps. And the pile of seed trays and pots waiting to be planted. Just a few. I need loads, of course. I can't wait for the weather to warm up!

But now I need a nap and maybe another hot cross bun. Toasted. With butter..............

And then I must check to see if the bird is back.

Missy is in the snow up in the mountains. I suspect she is having an absolute ball. She loves going to Swizzleland.

Anyway, my friends, I hope that your Easter weekend is filled with blessings and peace. And the absence of pneumatic drills.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

37 years ago today.............

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Thirty seven years ago, I was a bride. 22 years old. 
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And it was a hot hot day in Cape Town, with blue skies and sunshine, bright sun umbrellas, beautiful flowers and amazing food too. 

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Just as well it was hot, really, because the reception was at home in the garden, and there were over 200 people there.

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My make-up melted twice before the wedding at 10am. Twice. I think I sort of gave up after that, and so did the guests so that was fine. 

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We all melted together. I do remember ditching the shoes and letting the long train of my dress fly out behind me as I walked around the swimming pool. I loved that dress.
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37 years ago. How is that possible? And I was so young. Geoff was 33. He knew what he was doing!!

Well, I think so.

That was a long time ago, and here I am in England, with 3 adult children and one granddaughter. And those 37 years are full of memories and laughter, tears and fun, yells and adventures.

And I am just thinking that on that day in March so many years ago, I had no idea what lay ahead. I just knew that I was with the man I loved and that we would be fine, no matter what happened or where life took us. 3 weeks later, we were on a plane back to the UK with Geoff's mum as well. And off he went to sea again. .

Anyway. I just thought it would be fun to post the photos.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Still freezing.......

Oh my word it is cold. That is the printable version of what I was thinking as i stepped outside. My hands have lost all feeling after a moment or two out there in the greyness. The wind is the real problem. Frigid. 

But inside, we are warm. Ish. I am not a great believer of hothouse interiors in winter. I believe in wearing jumpers and layers. And blankets it necessary, and my reasoning is that we will not get sick. Amazingly, it seems to do the trick, because we are tough old birds here, and no-one has succumbed to anything so far. We freeze the germs. And also, it makes heating affordable, although the papers are now all full of the fact that gas prices are about to soar. 

More layers then. 

And recession heaters. 

We have plenty. 
My granddaughter wants to see the Easter trees here, so this is the one in the hallway, Missy..... lots of little bunnies all over it. 

Speaking of layers and blankets, I have finally finished the attache as you crochet granny square blanket. I made a large border to sort of balance it, and it is soft and warm, bit I am not 100% convinced about it. it is all attached, so that is good. And I spent last night sewing in all the ends. I loathe that part of the creating. 
I haven't blocked it yet. I don't usually worry too much about the blocking. Do you, crochet friends? Is it really worth it? 
It is indisputably bright. Cheerful. And finished. Now i need to think of another project, given that I still can't plant anything anywhere. Frustration is mounting. 
Yesterday, Jean, Jenny and i went to do our hour in the church prayer room. The chancel is set up as a house with different rooms, and different questions and prompts to guide the prayer, and it is so peaceful and lovely there. The hour just flew by and we could easily have done another. I love the way it focuses the mind on what is important, and how the warmth and peace surrounds you as you move around the "house". We go every year - a very special time. 

In preparation for Easter, if you haven't read this breath-tasking post by Jen Hatmaker, I urge you to do so. Seriously. Breath-taking. 

The house above, a very old house opposite the church, had a beautiful fringe of icicles hanging from the thatch. 
See? Beautiful. Only I wouldn't advise walking under it as it starts thawing!

This is our church. And the snow. And Jean and Jenny heading towards the little door on the right too go to the prayer room/chancel. 
Here you are, Missy - a photo of the big tree in the kitchen just for you. Eggs and birds and butterflies and chickens and bunnies. 

Picture heavy and not so many words. I gave aquazumba a miss this morning. Sometimes, it is unquestionably time to slow down. Like now. I sincerely hope it is warmer at your homes, my friends. This extended winter seems to be covering the northern hemisphere. Just think - maybe we will all have a stunning summer!

I live in hope........

Monday, March 25, 2013

The snow most certainly fell.........

Oh heavens, the weekend disappeared in a rather white whirl.  I am still catching up with myself. That snow I said was expected? It came. 

However, I managed to wrestle the pallet, which came as promised, into the kitchen on Friday just ahead of the snow. It was 6 planks wide, and exactly the same length as the other raised beds. A miracle. I levered the nails out of the planks supporting the bottom, and then, when I got to the top and its supports, I rather lost the will to live, and decided that the old saw would be perfect for the job, and proceeded to saw through those rather thick supports, so I ended up with 3x2plank deep strips. Already braced. Great. Now I have to make the bed. And I will. Soon. 

Do you see the label on the saw in the photo? It has been on it since the early 1960's, because when I found it in my parent's cellar when I moved them and their entire lives here, it was brand new. It belonged to my uncle, and I am quite sure he never used it. Ever. He was not a sawing kind of man. I am certain it came from my grandfather's store - Grandpa was an importer of goods from around the world. It was a family business in the era before supermarkets. Really big. I remember running through the store as a child, to see my Grandpa = he had an open office - a huge room with heaven knows how many people working at desks all facing the front, and then there was a little half wall, and Grandpa and his younger brother had desks with twirly seats facing their staff. We would race in and leap on to the chairs to spin around, and all work would stop for the duration. 

Some memories are so clear - the giant brown paper rolls, the sounds of the lorries reversing into the loading bays, the tall stacks of goods.......... I must tell you about my grandfather one day............

And that saw is wonderful. Super sharp after all these years. Grandpa believed in quality. He died in 1964. I think this saw is at least 45 years old. 

But it is still hard work, the sawing........


You see? This was the first one cut, and at that point, I needed to mop the brow and consider sitting down for a while. 

These are the other support planks already removed, and nails taken out. Hah. Girls can do things. 


And, as you can see, the white stuff  fell. In copious amounts. So much fell on some parts of the country that they are still trying to dig the cars out and get access to homes. To repair downed power lines, and the poor farmers - this is lambing season, and some farms in Co Antrim in Northern Ireland are almost wiped out. They were told to expect a foot of snow. They got 10 - 12 feet instead. Ewes dead. Lambs dead. And so help me, they also have to PAY to have the carcasses removed. As soon as the road is clear, the winds cause more drifts and they have to start over again.

It is dire. Just awful. 


And it did not stop. All weekend, it fell. And then it froze too. This is SPRING, for heaven's sake. 


I thought the bunnies and eggs and daffodils looked slightly out of place with a snowy background. Covered cars, and the worst everywhere exposed, was the drifting snow. Even the recreation ground in the centre of the village had great white waves of snow - almost like sculptures. 

My poor Spring bulbs are courageously poking their heads up through the snow.......
And I looked at the frozen droplets everywhere, hanging off leaves, and I wondered just how they froze before they fell? 

It amazes me. It is also, as I said, perishingly cold. The press has been full of dire warnings about the country's gas reserves. There is talk of 11days to 2 weeks supply left. Oh perfect. We will then move in with Jean and her fireplace, and woodburning  stove and a plentiful supply of wood. This also makes my dream of getting   a woodburning stove here even more urgent. I refuse to be dependent on big expensive companies for warmth. I want a way to warm, us  up myself. 

Anyway, Glynis's sister is visiting from SA and so they all came to tea yesterday afternoon, and Diana made her totally divine brownies with peanut butter chips. You have to taste these. Unbelievable. Stunning. And, as an added bonus, the house smells amazing for hours too. 

I have a great deal more to talk about and to show you, and Hallelujah, that blanket is finished too. But that will be for tomorrow. Palm Sunday has been and gone, and our 24/7 prayer room is open at church for the whole of Holy Week. 

Easter is approaching................

PS: Sorry about all the typos earlier - spellcheck wasn't working, but that is no excuse. I also need stronger glasses!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Raised beds, and excitement.......

It is ridiculous to be as worked up and excited as I am right now. Why? I have just sorted my seeds for planting, and I am raring to go. Trouble is that the weather is of the Arctic Variety. Very, very cold and bleak, snow, sleet and all the rest is forecast for the weekend.

 Groan. Let me loose to dig my hands in the soil and start the seedlings!


But they would freeze. And I have to wait. Even the potatoes are still on the window sill in the kitchen. They should be in the pots. I am WAAAAAAAAAAAAY behind where I usually am. It is the weather. Sigh.


Yesterday, after aquazumba (and therein lies another story - remind me), Jean, Diana and I trundled down to the allotment with a car full of decking and tools and cardboard.


I had made the ends of the raised beds at home - drilled and screwed the cornerposts in place, and drilled all the long boards and wooden bracing pieces

The screwdrivers and rechargeable drill etc were in the bags, and so we assembled 3 stunning raised beds.


I cannot tell you how thrilled I was, and am, with them.


I left legs so Diana dug holes and we buried the legs in place to make them more rigid and to stabilise them.


The ground is not exactly flat and slopes a bit. They went together as planned and within a couple of hours, we had them in place. It did need all 3 of us to hold them in place, believe me. There is no work bench down there. But it didn't matter.

I have to say that I did a lot of hovering and holding and not so much of the heavy work. Rechargeable drills are amazing. They are essential when you have no power source, and I love mine. Daughters are convenient helpers, I find. I love my daughter.


I did take photos though, and then Diana got hold of the camera, and I have to say that I look as if I weigh 599678 pounds. I do not. I am like a kangaroo - my pockets/pouch hold a multitude of bulky things that I needed. I do wish I looked more like Meryl Streep though. Or anyone who is a little slinky. I am padded. Grannies need some padding. That is my excuse. Groan.


Once they were in place, we covered the bases with cardboard I had collected from a friend who owns a cleaning business, and then I cut and stapled weed matting around the sides to deter the growth of weeds. We slung the old carpet offcuts between the beds, which we staggered to accommodate the new compost bins I am going to invent. Watch this space. Linds is on a roll.......

And then Jean, the Star, who was forking through the old compost and muttering about non-compostable  rubbish (which I stuffed into bags and brought home for the garden waste bin here), tossed usable stuff into the new beds, and we also emptied all the bags of soil improvers and compost we had already amassed into the beds. The cardboard will kill any grass or weeds and the worms love it as it rots down.

You will note that it was cold - Jean stayed warm, but that wind was biting. I had on layers, and a cowl and my church boots (that we bought for £5). However, when I got home, I couldn't scrape the mud off the bottom, because there seemed to be something stuck to them. There was. The sole had disintegrated, and the inside of the shoes was hanging out. Give me strength. The socks were also muddy, so the boots didn't make it past the front door. They went in the bin. A shame, because I loved them.


We need lorry loads of soil/compost, but I have plenty in my compost bin at home. There are already 6 (portable) bags here waiting to go. It is a start. Compost is heavy, people.

That should fill half of one. As I said, we need lots. We will get there, and in a few months, you will see photos of my vegetables growing. It was hard work and DIRTY work. I loved it. I could not move afterwards, of course, and I did very little compared to the two Stars.

But I have 3 raised beds, and plans for 3 more. They may have to wait for next year, though.

I am quite sure you have heard enough of my raised beds. If I could have, I would have danced a jig all around them. Such joy. Such delight.

Maybe you had to be there..........

And then today, after I had been to the farm shop for eggs and brussels, I stopped at a building site, because I saw a really nice wooden pallet. I asked the builders what they did with them, and they said they burn them. WHAT????? I asked if I could have it, and he said of course. In fact he even offered to deliver it to my door after work. (Soon.) and I will rip it apart and EUREKA!!! A new FREE raised bed will be born!

I told you I was on a roll.

And rather excitable.

You may have noticed this.

Ah well, spring is coming. It should already be here but it is not. I have 3 piles of seeds on trays. Plant out now. Plant indoors now. Plant on 12 May. (The beans. Never before 12 May, straight into the ground.) Jean's Dad said so, and it is actually on one packet of French beans I have got here.

Anyway - the aqua bit - I was doing just fine in the warm up dances, when our teacher, for some reason, turned up the sound. I was out of the water in seconds, because the bass vibrations tore through me. I did wave but she didn't see me. Until I exited the water, then the pool area, and took refuge in the spa, where I couldn't feel the music. Of course she turned it down for me, and after a couple of dances, I was back in the water. But pain lingers, you know. I try to ignore it. That was why building the beds was good. I kept moving. This week has been a rough week on the CRPS front. But I am still here. And believe it or not, I am now going to go and finish that join-together-as-you-go crocheted blanket.

Just until the pallet arrives. I may start assembling the next bed. You never know......

PS Edith - I save all the old wax from burned out candles in an old pot, and when it is full, I melt it very slowly on the lowest heat on the stove, and then I stick a wick in the cleaned containers, and hold it in place with a peg placed across the top. I pour the melted wax into the containers and fill them almost to the top, because it tends to sink back as it sets. Sometimes, I add a couple of drops of essential oil to the melted wax to scent the candles. It was a complete trial and error thing. I just wanted to use  the wax and not throw it away! And the candles burn for hours. I keep one going in the evenings for at least 3 or 4 nights. So I class that as a roaring success!. Try it! Candles knock out heat - they really do warm up a room.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nests ................


 Well. Yesterday was a disaster. Moving was not an option, and I fell asleep in the chair early. But I survived.  And as I speak, my daughter is making a beef pie, I gather. I was booted out of the kitchen. It smells good though.

This morning started really well, when a mysterious package arrived on the doorstep - the soundtrack to The Bible, which I won on Kelli's giveaway. I was absolutely thrilled, and I can't wait to get the chance to see the TV series here one day. Soon, I hope. Thanks, Kelli!


Speaking of my daughter, backtracking a little - she has spent most of the afternoon weeding the garden again, and digging in some new soil, so I made a vague attempt at something, and yanked some dead plants out of some pots, because once the soil dries, I will be emptying and sifting and replacing and planting. I can't wait to start the seedlings off. Jean and I were not impressed at the quality of the seedling soil last year, so this year, I will sift some and see how that works. And yes, I could start some seeds off here in the house, and I will later, but right now, I want to get the greenhouse sorted and the new cover on it, and ready the pots. All we need is a sunny day. I want the sterilised pots to dry in the sun fast. I am an optimist. The last time I said that we had snow the next few days. Just watch this space..........

Diana asked for soil for the front beds, so I walked to the place where I have the garden furniture stored for winter, and the buckets. In the buckets, I have stacked the rolled plastic gazebo walls. And today, on top of the rolled gazebo walls, I discovered a nest. Now, bear in mind I have been checking most days to see if the birds would try nesting there like they did last year, and there has been no sign of any nest building. These birds must have been working through the night, because it was a well built, deep, strong nest. I have no idea how I missed it. See - here it is on top of the rolled gazebo. How nice. 


So I called Diana, as she was wearing my gardening gloves, and she removed it and tucked it into the hedge in the front of the house, and now she is worried the birds will not find it. Hah. Little signposts to the front are not going to work. I just need to make sure they do not build another one, because I will be moving all the furniture under the bucket (and the bucket) for the spring and summer. Well. Someone will be moving it. Maybe not me. 


   Did any of you watch the inaugural mass of Pope Francis? It was on very early here and we watched the whole thing. A huge event. The sun shone too. It even shone here a little this afternoon. 

And finally, I have made 3 more candles, using all the left over wax. I am so thrilled that they actually work, and am even more delighted that I do not have to buy candles. When I think of all the wax I have tossed out over the years I wince. Now I just need to stock up on the wicks and we will be all set. 

I think that pie must be nearly ready. I am starving........

Monday, March 18, 2013

Almost Spring......

Today, the world was very grey - dense fog hid everything from sight. But with fog comes the promise of clear skies and sun, and so it has been today - a reminder that Spring is not far away. I hope. 


All around, there are signs of Spring. One of my little crocus plants has opened up in the late afternoon sun today


Just have a look at the pretty little petticoat under the outer petals of the snowdrops - I had no idea they hid such a delicate beauty. Maybe because I haven't stopped long enough to really look before. Or have I? I can't remember. Just noticing this today has been a delight, so does it matter? I think not. 


There has been great celebration in the house, because, look! My first daffodil is starting to bloom in the front garden! Almost. Not quite there, but almost.


Have another look at the little snowdrops - absolutely exquisite. I am so glad I have clumps of them all over the garden. I do acknowledge that I tend to get a little antsy when I want to plant for summer and the spring bulbs are still there, or dying down so slowly. But maybe this year I will remember the delight, and not be so hasty to move on. Wishful thinking, perhaps. Me and my garden..... things happen out there, and I just love, love, love it all. 


Now, for Mother's Day, my daughter bought me a beautiful bunch of tulips. I,. on the other hand, bought my mother a huge bunch of daffodils yet to bloom. Daughter won the day then, but hah! I win today. They are all in bloom now, a week after Mother's Day, so we get extended delight. well, that is my thinking. We have daffs in the house. This is great for Spring. I LOVE daffodils. 

However, I don't pick the ones in the garden. I think they look lovely out there, so that is where they stay. 

I am moving slowly today. In fact, I have ground to a halt. That would be more accurate. My head doesn't seem to belong to my body because I have the headache to end all headaches. So I have been sitting in a chair most of the day. And right now, I am headed back there. 

I will be back..............

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The world is going crazy........

It is my considered opinion today that the world is going crazy. 

When the government is able to rush through retrospective laws to circumvent the appeal court ruling on workforce illegalities and prevent the repayment of money to young job seekers, when a barrister (legal professional) gets to decide what kind of chairs a church in a village in the middle of England may buy, when the size 10 (UK 14) is regarded as obese, you have to wonder what the heck is going on. 

What is happening to common sense? It seems to have been lost along the line. 

And am I the only one who sees the problem of lack of jobs being closely linked to the sudden raising of the retirement age, insistence on people continuing to work into their 70s, having an affect on the number of jobs available to the young people? And add to this the government's desire to be in control of children's lives (in nurseries) from babyhood, so that their mothers can go back to work and earn money as soon as possible, therefore becoming tax payers. Then they wonder why generations of children potentially have no morals, don't know how to behave and grow up to be problems in society. 

AND do not get me started on the idea that stay at home Mums are lolling about watching TV all day, and are not productive members of society. And are seldom treated with any form of respect. 

And then there is the so called bedroom tax, where people in social housing, are having to pay extra towards their housing if they have an unused room in their home. In itself, this is not a bad idea, providing common sense is used. But if a married couple have to have separate rooms, because one needs a hospital bed, and therefore there is no room for the other to sleep in the same bed, and uses a second bedroom, and then gets penalised because of this, the world is indeed going crazy. 

I understand perfectly that, should a single person be living in a 4 bed-roomed home, provided by the state, they could move to a smaller home. That is providing any such homes exist. And in so many cases, they do not exist. And what if that second bedroom is used to store equipment used to get around, like wheelchairs? Or equipment used to run youth groups as a volunteer? Does the youth group fold? 

I need a soap-box to stand on. 

Oh yes, a dining-room is going to be called an extra room. This is from the same government which advocates families spending time together. Eating around a table apparently doesn't count. I am losing count of all the things which raise the blood pressure. A while back, I suggested on Twitter, that Mr Cameron come to tea, and invited him to bring his entire cabinet, because I have things to say to them all. I have yet to have a response. Believe me, I have plenty to say. None of which, I think, has ever crossed their minds before. And, should anyone think I am being party political here, forget it. It doesn't matter who is in charge, what party they belong to, they are all the same. I have zero confidence in any of them, and God help us all, there is another budget this week, so we will all have more taken away. It is inevitable. I have no idea what is left to take away, though. 

And so, in an effort to breathe and be calm, I will tell you that we awoke to snow - heavy sloppy wet stuff which didn't stick around. Apparently it snowed again while we were in church too. It remains grey and damp and gloomy. Church was not grey or gloomy. It was multi-sensory church. Actually, it was so funny - we all arrived to a very strange smell which had half the congregation coughing. Jasmine incense. So half way through the service, our vicar asked if we liked the smell - NO, everyone roared back. You just had to laugh. 

A squirrel has dug up and eaten a pot of bulbs. I found soil all over the path, and some empty bulb skins, and the bulbs I had been watching were gone. This is the time I go to war with the squirrels. At least the squirrels have come to dinner, and not avoided me. 

Oh well. I am now going to look for an oasis of sanity somewhere. Has anyone got any ideas?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thought provoking posts.......

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

How true that is - you are never too old to set goals or to dream. This is most definitely a huge part of me. If there is nothing to look forward to, or to work towards, then what the heck are we doing with our lives? Every new project we start, every plan we make for the garden, every dream we have of adventures.... all good. And all essential for living rich and full days. Now that I am older, my life is taking on a different shape and colour, and there are so many different things to get to grips with. I have been reading things which leap out at me and make me stop in my tracks. Eureka moments. Do you have them too? 

I also know that I have some unrealistic dreams, but I keep them in the "dreams book" because I have never got round to admitting the impossible exists. It is not a part of me, and never has been. I overlook potential problems and get on with the dreaming. I probably always will, because it is me. Me. 

And then I stumbled upon this and, instead of just nodding my head in agreement at the wisdom of the words and moving on, I stopped and realised that in many ways, I am doing what they said they regretted. Or not doing. And it messed with my mind a WHOLE LOT yesterday. Pop off and read or re-read it, people. I will wait here. #1 and #3 specifically. {{Shudder.}}

If you read the headings, you can happily nod all the way through. BUT, if you read the examples she cites, all of a sudden there are the "wait a minute...." moments. Dreams, not fulfilled because of worry about other people.....not expressing yourself well, holding back the words, and then this bit " they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming". Hmmm. 

Possibly because I am over the hump, so to speak, of life - ie there are more days lived out already than probably lie ahead (I don't actually think I want to be 116 anyway) I found the whole article very pertinent. I need to make some changes. 

And then in the vein of change, I read another post, this time about adult children, and this too, was a clarion call, so off you go and read it now.

Bev at Numbering the Days has written about her dear friend's visit, and the life lesson she learned from her - as did I and I suspect a great many others. 

Tris loved me enough, was wise enough, that she spoke the truth. She said, 'Bev, it isn't about YOUR family anymore. It's about them and theirs. They all turned out great. Be thankful for that. Enjoy it. Let them each have their own lives.'

This shouts out loudly to me - your family is gone or going - their focus in life is to build their own home and life,  and on it goes. Of course it is right. Once they grow and leave, it is to do as the birds do, fly, build, nest and ever onwards. I loved the part where she spoke of the returning birds not finding their parents and sibling each year! 

And here I am, just like her, wanting a family - MY family- photo too. But then, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a photo. However, in MY family, this is always an epic task and generally does not work. Anyway. I can cut and paste and crop and touch up and make myself slimmer and more glamorous and slinky and do one myself. 


So there has been a whole lot of thinking going on here. No doubt there will be a lot more talking too in the days to come.  But this very moment, the sun has popped out after a wet and cold day so I am going to inspect the boundaries.... ie check the pots in the garden for new growth. I need the vitamin D. 
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

White smoke.........


Hello there - doesn't this just epitomise little girls? The long hair, the pinkness, the dolls, the tea party?? And don't forget the pink bag hanging on the chair - a present from Greatgranny for Easter which Missy seems to have laid claim to a little early! I just love love LOVE everything about it. My little Missy - growing up so fast. 

Diana is still down south with the family, and I am quite sure she and Missy are having a wonderful time together. They made a huge pizza for supper last night, so I think  may be right. Aunties are great fun.

Our crazy weather continues to flummox us all. This morning, my friend Margaret came round with her two granddaughters, seeking a warm refuge, because she is having a new conservatory built and the builders were about to knock through to their house. Believe me, you do not want to be exposed to the elements at the moment, even if the sun does shine sporadically and warm you for a few brief minutes. The snow follows just as you relax. I know this. I popped outside to try to organise the row of pots waiting to be emptied and washed and bleached before I start planting the potatoes, but the soil is rock hard. In other words, it is frozen. So I ceased and desisted. 

Talking to all of you is a much warmer option. 

Ordinary. The ordinary. The beauty of the ordinary. 
Some of you have talked about the ordinary and how it makes you see your own lives differently, and this is such a great part of my life. Don't get me wrong - dreams are essential. It is wrong to think you are destined for the ordinary and to give up hope of the extra-ordinary. Just ask a few people and you will see. The most amazing things happen to ordinary people. 
It is all about how you view life, I suppose. The mundane can be transformed just by an attitude change, and a child-like delight in the small things, and believe me, it can transform more than a brief moment. It can transform whole lives.


And on to the following day.......

On a totally different note, I am going to put comment moderation on for a while because some spam is getting through and is driving me crackers. Your comments will appear, so do not worry. The others just won't. I have had a torrent of spam in recent days clogging up my inbox and I have had enough. Sorry! Otherwise I have to put the word verification back. I just wish they would all go away. And get a proper life. 
Back to yesterday. I am not Catholic, but I was mesmerised by the wait for the white smoke to billow from the chimney in the Sistine Chapel where the conclave was happening. And, with the rest of the world, I waited to see who the next Pope would be. Pope Francis has a beautiful smile. First South American Pope. First Jesuit Pope. First Pope for over 1000 years from outside Europe.

Photo taken from Sky News on TV
He is a simple man. And yet, highly educated, intellectual, and well aware of the poverty and darker side of life. I so hope that he can clean out the Curia and rid the church of the evil which has dogged it in recent years. It will not be easy. But his chosen name seems to indicate simplicity of worship and love, and I do hope it will characterise his papacy. We will see. I did go to the entire list and CVs of all the cardinals. They are nearly all old men. Maybe new younger cardinals will be appointed now. And how has Italy got so many? 
As I said, I am not Catholic, so I do not know these things. What I did love about all the interviews with the people in the Square, was that they didn't mind who it was going to be. They were just thrilled to have a new Pope. No divisions there. That seems to be a good start. 
So that took up all of the evening.


And today, I have been to aqua with the same stand-in teacher we had on Tuesday, who was, I am happy to say, a little less frenetic than last time, although we still groaned when we left the water. And, after an exciting time doing grocery shopping with Mum and Jean, I am here to complete yesterday's post. The snow fell yesterday - but again, in polystyrene ball like flakes. Odd. They are still out there in my pots. And today it is cold again. March is not proving to be very Spring like at all so far. 

The crockpot is bubbling away - oh how I do love that slow-cooker of mine. Perfect for a cold day and lovely to come home to the smell of home-cooking in the afternoon. The other recent love I have is for orzo (pasta). One handful popped into the slow-cooker just before you need to serve dinner and it makes all the difference. 

So, the crocheted blanket is no nearer being finished, the pots have not been sterilised before I plant the potatoes, the house needs a good clean from top to bottom and my car looks as if it has survived a muddy winter. Tough. I have other things to do. Like write...............