Monday, December 31, 2007
Daughter has beetled off to London to visit her friends and to spend New Year with her brother and sister-in-law, and I am trying to sort Mum for her visit to my sister and also attempting to catch up with the washing and other sundry essentials. It is grey and cold out, and I had a thoughtful, philosophical post written, but then decided that it could wait. I have no idea what for, but just not now.
2008 is just hours away now, and it is already the New Year in New Zealand. Time.... it is all relative. There are people being born, and people dying every second of the day. People laughing, people weeping, people celebrating and people suffering. Billions of lives being lived around the globe in different places and time zones right now. Tomorrow will dawn for each of us, wherever we are, and it will be a unique day for each one of us. How we choose to spend it is up to us.
We can't stop time, or slow it down. Nor can we make time, or stretch it. My hope and prayer for all of us for 2008 is that we use every minute we are given wisely, on the things that really matter, loving and laughing and living with all our hearts right here in the present.
THIS is the day that the Lord has given us. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Happy New Year to you all!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Anyway, in the quest to find some clothes for daughter, we poddled off yesterday (and the day before, but that was relatively futile as half the shops were not open) and found precisely nothing. After a couple of hours of being pushed and shoved about, we emerged with 2 bottles of shower gel and some sandwiches for sustenance and some fruit juice. Last of the great sales shoppers, that's us. She did find a lovely coat, but as it was not on the sale, it stayed where it was.
We think we have discovered what makes her so sick on long distance flights. She has all the symptoms of altitude sickness. Great. One of the recommendations we found on the internet was not to fly. Gee, thanks. She will be on the slow boat back home, and should arrive in 3 months. I think not. There has to be something practical that she can do to stop the symptoms of feeling as though she is about to pass out, not to mention the nausea etc. Knowing that she has to make these trips alone is not something I am happy about. Especially when she has to change planes in strange and foreign places. When I am not there to look out for her. Any ideas, people??
And now I am sitting here awaiting the arrival of our new sofas. Sofas!!!!! Things to sit on! New! With springs which are intact! They were actually in position 5 on the Mythical Grand Order Of Important Things To Do When One Wins the Lotto, but leapt up to Number 1 when it became apparent that we would be sitting on the floor soon, due to the demise of all things one can sit on in this house. One's 82 year old mother should not have to sit on the floor. And relaxing in front of the TV doesn't really work when you are sitting on a dining room chair. And I creak way too much to spend much time at ground level.
That rest I confidently spoke about over the holidays? The one where I would have time to do the things I want to do? Not a chance. What is more, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am having the most wonderful time with my daughter home. She is a delight. And let's face it, if I were to be all sweetness and light 24 hours a day, she would think she had arrived in the wrong place, wouldn't she??
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
So here are some photos of our Christmas......
I hope you all had as wonderful a day as we did!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Life is good right now. Very, very good. Everyone's reaction to seeing Diana has been the same as mine, and we have had such fun surprising friends! My 2 girls have been the cleaning elves around here, and as I finish baking, leaving a trail of debris in my wake, they have been cleaning and clearing. David joined in by sweeping the patio, and then there is the Playstation 3 which my son brought up with him. Oh my word..... Singstar...... we have laughed till we cried.
Carol services, biscuits, chocolate. Me, with the Christmas apron still on, whizzing about the village in the car, with David leaping out to deliver all our cards. Packaging goodies I have baked. Flopping in the rocking chair and just watching the antics of my family. Storing memories. Crossing things off the "to do" list. And now it is Christmas Eve. How thankful I am to be here in this place right at this moment.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!!!! Have a wonderful day tomorrow, and enjoy every single moment!
Friday, December 21, 2007
There I was, wrapping presents, baking biscuits, and having just cleaned the bathrooms, not looking the most fetching, you can imagine, and Andrew and Ann arrived. It was lovely to see them, and they said please go to the kitchen while we bring in a parcel which still needed to be wrapped. So we did, and I carried on wrapping a present. Then I looked up, because it got REALLY quiet.
LOOK!!!!! MY DAUGHTER!!!!! THE ONE WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE IN NEW ZEALAND!!!!!
IS IN MY KITCHEN!!!!! AND I AM HUGGING HER!!!
I had NO idea she was coming, nor did I suspect that my children were so devious! This has been planned for months, apparently, and my son and his wife arranged for her to come home for Christmas. Can you imagine a better Christmas present for this mother?? I am beside myself with excitement and still can't believe she is indeed upstairs asleep. Here. Home. With the family. My family is all here together. For one unbelievably special Christmas.
As she says..... one word sums this up. JOY.
Pure unadulterated joy.
Just excuse the shrieks and house-cleaning garb. I am still in shock.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
We have been shrouded in freezing fog all day and the -5 of the morning rose to just 0 degrees today. Cold. Damp, revolting cold. The kind that chills the bones.
Two dear friends of mine in real life have birthdays today. Cheryl and Louise. Happy Birthday, girls! I was talking to Cheryl on the phone this afternoon....she lives in Scotland, and David and I spent last Christmas with her and her family.... and she announced that she needed to put on her glasses so she could hear more clearly. Hmmm. She is, of course, older than me. 6 months. But still. Older. I will, no doubt be needing my glasses to hear as well in 6 months time. We have known each other since we were 6 years old. Back when dinasaurs roamed the earth.
And then I popped in to see Louise, and eat some of her cake. It is my duty to help eat cake. I am a good friend. We have both been so busy, and we have not seen each other to catch up as much as we want to, so it was lovely to sit in her kitchen and chat. Hopefully we will have more time to do just that over the holidays.
My son and daughter-in-law arrive tomorrow, I think. Maybe Saturday, depending on the traffic out of London. "They" say that 14 million people will be on the move tomorrow. It is supposed to be the busiest day on the roads. And then the holidays will really have begun. I will be back.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Welcome to my home, here in Middle England! I came home from school today, and, after a diabolical working day, decided to make biscuits. Cookies to you all in the States. I would show you my kitchen, but the debris from the baking session is beyond belief and I am more interested in chatting to you all than in clearing the mess.
This is in my kitchen/family room, and I love the little tree and the fibreoptic lights. They change colour, and together with the garlands and lights on the rafters (which you can sort of see in a previous post) it makes the room really festive. Please note the Christmas apron hanging from the doorknob.
This is one of the reindeer corners of the lounge......
This is the door to the lounge with the snowman wreath on it. I put the cards on the doors, as they are all glass panes.
And this is the Advent candle wreath, which we light on each Sunday in Advent, at the same time as my sister in Switzerland.
And this is the snowman, which my sister bought me just after the Inquest. When I asked her what on earth I was going to do with a life size snowman, she said... Hey, Linds....every morning when you walk down stairs and see him, he will make you smile. And he certainly does just that. He started small, and is looking out the window, and every day, he "grows" a little..... I pull him up each day.
And this is how tall he will get by Christmas morning. The babes think he is wonderful!
Here he is with his friend, Rudolph, who has grown as well.
And here is my little nativity scene, which I love.
Looking at the photos, my home seems to have been invaded by snowmen, reindeer and penguins.... all sorts of animals. And even though I have no small children in residence, I have to say I love it all.
Thanks for visiting, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
As people all over the place are saying, it is wonderful to think that, wherever we are in the world, we are all doing the same things at this time of the year. Preparing our hearts, minds and homes for Christmas. Remembering and celebrating the fact that one small baby born over 2000 years ago in a stable, has united us all together today. Wow.
I find myself thinking about that beautiful song.."Mary, did you know" every now and then, and really wondering if she had any inkling of what her baby would do to and for the world. As a mother, I look at my children, as I have done since they were born, and wonder just what sort of impact they will have on their world. What does God have in mind for them? Mary must have done just the same thing. Mothers do that.
We are getting near the end of the year, and soon it will be that time when I look back and try to see how far I have come in the past 12 months. Time to take stock and review the mistakes made, lessons learnt, and the dreams realised. And right now, as of last Friday, I have another set of decisions to make about work. Just like last year. New contracts to contemplate and challenges to consider. The timing could be better.
I have been posting very sporadically, I know, and I really have so many good intentions and then just run out of steam. I have been trying to keep up my visiting and reading, and I love meeting new friends, so to those of you who are new to commenting here, I am saying hello! Great to meet you! I will be over to visit in the next few days, I promise. Right now I have biscuits to bake and a family to care for. Christmas is nearly here!
I think I am going to tear up the list and just wing it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
- Taught 14 Maths lessons.
- 1 Music lesson..... do not ask. 30 13 year olds murdered Silent Night at the same time. I am still recovering.
- Nearly required the Heimlich Manoevre after choking on a peppermint at a staff meeting. At least they all know who I am now.
- Tripped over a chair leg, which a 16 year old was rocking back and forth, and spectacularly crashed to the floor. One kind and concerned boy said.... Miss, you squashed my lunch. I informed him that I was a grown woman and not a feather, and thanked him for asking how I was. I am black and blue. The kids thought I was a great source of amusement.
- Finished eating the cake. I can now squash lunches with more vigour.
- Been to our house group Christmas Party. See no 5.
- Mastered the new work laptop which I have been given, which means I can work through lunch and break and leave earlier.
- Posted parcels to NZ and Scotland.
We have been having the most beautiful sunsets, but I am usually driving as the sun goes down, so have not taken any photos. Our whole village was glowing red last night as I came home, and it was spectacular.
Time to go and flop a while. But I am just loving all your news and antics out there! So many things I want to try as well. I have started making a shopping list for my bake and make session. At least that is a start!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
And so yesterday afternoon was a "lets construct and decorate the tree day". Translated, that means I did it.
Today, after baking another cake, I started to go through the presents and wrap, and get them under the tree, so I could tidy the rest of the house without standing on parcels all over the place. I should never have crawled out of bed today. I have been in a foul mood, and my family has been avoiding me. We needed milk, so I popped down to the village to get some, and broke my glasses in half. That meant a dash to the nearest big supermarket to get more high-tech (cheap) reading glasses, only they did not stock them. So I left through the revolving doors, which stopped suddenly as I was entering them, and I walked straight into the edge of the door, bumped my head, scraped the skin off my hand and could possibly have broken another toe. And burst into tears. As one does on a Sunday in a supermarket.
After an encounter with the manager, to have the accident written up, I limped out in the torrential rain and went to another giant supermarket, which had no parking available...you can see how the day was going really, can't you..... But I did eventually get the glasses. I can see to write the tags on the presents.
This is my kitchen. I climbed all over the counters and tables last night stringing up the garlands and lights. And it looks lovely without the big lights on. And this way you can't see the mess either.
This is a corner of the lounge, and those snowmen dance a waltz when you switch them on. I seem to have a great many snowmen about the house this Christmas. You will get to see more later.
And so here I am. Tree up. Lights working. Presents (those I have got) wrapped. Cards written. Shopping done. A little battered. And yawning my head off. Work tomorrow. More rain forecast. But I actually spoke to each of my children and my sister today. That was good. And my mother and son still love me, even though I have been a nightmare to live with today.
Ah well...... tomorrow is another day.
Friday, December 07, 2007
BooMama is having a soup extravaganza today, so here I am to FINALLY post the Butternut Soup recipe which everyone loves. It is a real favourite. Really. It is. Just try it.
1 butternut, peeled and sliced then cubed
3 Tablespoons butter (or marge)
2 large onions, chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
Dash of curry powder
3 Cups Vegetable stock (or chicken)
1 and a half cups milk
Salt and Pepper
Melt butter in large pan.
Add onions and cook over low heat till softened and transparent.
Add butternut and toss in the butter and onion mix.
Once butter is almost absorbed, sprinkle flour and curry powder over vegetables and stir until it is mixed in. It will thicken.
Add stock and milk, and stir .
Simmer until the butternut is soft. I usually leave it for half an hour or so, stirring now and then.
Liquidise (or use the whizzer thing which I love).
Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of sugar into the mix and stir. It brings out the flavour of the butternut beautifully.
Decorate with a swirl of cream and some chopped parsley or chives. Perfect. Serve with cheese scones or whatever fresh bread rolls you like. You can add a grated apple in as well, when you are cooking the butternut and onions, if you like, but I don't usually bother. It is even better a day or two after you have made it, but it never lasts long here. It is devoured with speed.
There you go. I feel the urge to make it right now, and I would, if I had an ounce of energy. After teaching all day for the past 3 days, with no free lessons, I am crawling, and need to get re-acquainted with my feet. I will be back.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
We bought some divine sandwiches from M&S Food and sat in Kensington Gardens eating our lunch, after wandering down the High Street, looking at all the shops. We had to fight off the squirrels. The rotten little things danced around our feet, pawing our bags. Do NOT get me started on squirrels. They are my nemesis. I wish you could see what they have done to my garden.
Here is Glynis, in front of the Albert Memorial, which is in front of the Royal Albert Hall.
Turn the other way, and here am I. In front of the Royal Albert Hall. Oh, the excitement! And just think.... I should have been at work. I had the day off (unpaid) as it was a pre-existing arrangement.
And this is what the inside is transformed into for the tennis. Amazing. We had perfect seats in the choir stalls, and we have sat there before, and really do think they are the best in the house. This is Henri Leconte with Jeremy Bates. We also saw Peter McNamara and Mansur Bahrami, and Chris Wilkinson, and Tom Gulikson (I bumped into him after his match....so I touched him!) and Guy Forget and Anders Jarryd. A real feast of tennis. Stefan Edberg was playing in the evening, and we were really sorry not to see him play. Maybe next time. And McEnroe.
And then we walked back to the tube station, in the dark, past all the Christmas lights. It was perfect. I had such a special day and I loved every moment. I told you I had great friends!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and so the first candle was lit. Please note, that arrangement was done in 5 minutes when I realised I had not got it ready for the co-ordinated lighting ceremony with my sister! (And the candles are really standing straight, not leaning at an odd angle.)
This has been a busy weekend. Yesterday, Mum and I did a whirlwind zap around the shops to get some vital essentials. Like presents for the friends from Scotland, who were visiting in the afternoon. That was after I made 2 visits to the post office to finally send off my daughter's parcels to NZ. Yes, Diana, they have gone by air, and not via the slow boat!
And after an afternoon with my friends, and the babes and Jackie, I was out at a party last night. The social whirl has begun, it seems. Lovely! And today, we went to the most beautiful service at a church in a neighbouring town, for the baptism of a young friend. I had never been to a full immersion baptism before, and it was so moving, and such a joy to share with our friends. And then we gathered at their home for a shared lunch as well. Beautiful day. The weather has been foul, but the day just perfect.
I am no nearer getting my decorations out and up and sorted, but there is no rush. And after a Saturday morning at the shops, looking at the manic frenzy, I am less inclined than ever to get involved in a spending spiral with money I do not have. It is not about money after all. It is about time and priorities and the meaning of Christmas. Or rather, the meaning of Christmas, and adjusting your time to take care of the priorities. My priorities are my family and my friends, and they do not have a monetry value. They are more precious than gold.
I don't want to be out amidst the jostling crowds. I want to be in my home, making beautiful things, and enjoying the company of the people who matter to me. I don't need presents. I love giving gifts. And I especially love the idea of giving time as a gift. I mean...... what do you remember most? The gift bought or the time someone spent with you?
I don't think back to Christmasses past remembering the stunning gift or the amazing present. I think back to the time when Auntie Myra started singing carols on Christmas night and we all joined in. To the time my oven broke while I had 20+ people sitting waiting for the turkey to be served. To Dad and Geoff monopolising Andrew's remote control boat. To Marge , Geoff and I constructing the playpeople circus on Christmas eve. To friends popping round for mince pies and sherry every Christmas Eve. To the children taking their favourite toys to the morning service on Christmas Day. To breakfast at Granny's after church on Christmas morning. To freezing while singing carols in the village square on Christmas Eve. To the magic of seeing the lit tree on Christmas morning , as a child. To the faces of my children on Christmas morning. To the times when Geoff was actually home for Christmas. So many special times.
It is the people I remember. The events. The memories are alive.
And the presents? I can't remember them.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
- The cake is eaten
- The inspectors have gone
- David gets home tonight
- It is cold
- I have not thought about Christmas shopping yet
- The tree is still in the box in the shed, where there may or may not be rodents. (I do not like rodents. I have been spreading out a lavish banquet of rodent dispatcher when I think about it, just in case.)
- The Christmas cards have started arriving
- I have not written my Christmas letter
- I have not got a Christmas list of things to do
- Can we please move Christmas a month or 2?
As you can see, I have my priorites all in the right place. I would have made another cake but as I have not been near the shops, I have no cake flour. Just as well, really, or I would most probably have eaten half of it by now. I forgot to take lunch to school, so was ready to gnaw on anything that was not nailed down by the time I got home.
I am still uncertain about work. I am uncomfortable being uncertain, if that makes any sense. I am not a ditherer at all. For some reason, I am holding back, and I never do that. With me, it is usually "throw yourself in the deep end". But enough of uncomfortable things.
There are so many lovely things to read out there in our bloggy world. So many places to visit and to join in with as well, and I really should be sewing! I have become the world's greatest procrastinator. I will make some coffee and get on with things. And just maybe I will think about the tree this weekend. That should act as a visual spur to get moving. I hope!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Why is it that boys as so unconcerned re the packing idea? Now, if it had been my daughter going on this trip, she would have been packed and ready and sorted a day or so in advance. David??? I gave in and threw all his stuff into the bag myself at 10 last night, always aware that I could be making a late night dash to Tesco to get the forgotten bits. He breezed past me at 10 and announced that he was off to bed. Packing? I suggested? I know where everything is, he replied. Men! To his future wife, one day in the far distant future, I say.... I tried! And failed, it seemed.
Work. I come home and I am drained, and I am not wildly enthusiastic, and I cannot forget the disquiet I have felt about taking this job. Something does not feel right, and I still have no idea what it is. The people seem nice, and the kids are not that bad, but there is still something there. I will wait and see, and decide by the end of the week. And I seem to attract inspectors. We are being "Ofstedded" on Thursday. Yesterday, there was an accident on the way to work and I arrived late. Not ideal for one's first day. I did wonder if that was another divine sign, I have to say. Today, I was so early, the school was empty when I arrived. And we have had fire alarms going off each day too. In the rain. So watch this space. I have no idea what I will do.
At a Hen's Pace is hosting an Advent traditions carnival today so I thought I would do a post on the Christingle service. I had never heard of this service before I moved to England, and here it is now a big part of the Advent season, and it is all about putting Christ back in Christmas. It has it's origins in the Moravian Church, and became part of the Anglican tradition in 1968 apparently. If you google Christingle, you will come up with some great sites which tell the story behind the first Christingle in the 1700s.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
So, because I am nice, here is the recipe for you to try. I am not up to the Pioneer Woman's standards, but even I can post a recipe. And I have not forgotten the butternut soup one. It is coming!
2 Cups sugar
3 cups flour (ordinary cake flour)
I teaspoon Baking powder
pinch of salt
half a pound of butter
1 cup milk
Cream the sugar and butter till light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well.
Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt alternating with the milk.
Whip the egg whites till stiff and fold into the cake mixture gently.
Pour into greased tube or springform baking tin.
Mix 2 tablespns sugar, 1 dessertspoon cinnamon and 1 rounded dessertspoon butter till crumbly, and sprinke over cake mix.
Bake at 180C (350F) for 45mins to 1hour. The cinnamon mix sometimes sinks into the cake and leaves wonderful crunchy cinnamony bits.
Perfect. Delicious. You need to go and make one now.
The study is lined with bookcases, and this is the overflow!
You can see what I mean about the deck. It works so well, and up there at the back, there is a row of cupboards which I have not been into for 9 years. It is on the "to do" list, and I clearly do not need to keep anything in them, or I would have made a plan before now. I am in two minds about whether to paint the stairs. I think I should, looking at the photos.....any opinions?
Those enormous bookcases. I could do with more, but as you can see, have nowhere to put them. Sigh.
It is light, bright and lovely. I am pleased with it. Space for me, and those who know me will appreciate how desperate I have been for space of my own.
So, there you are. The finished room. I am now in the middle of painting the shower room. I thought the door to the studio looked a little jaded, and so I painted it, and that made the shower door look dire, so I painted that, and then I did the inside of the door, and that made the medicine cupboard look awful, so I did that and then the walls..... you get the picture. This was not on the list.
David is off on a Biology field trip this week, and came home with a list of required items. Most of which he did not have. Finding UK size 14 wellie boots is not simple. I suggested bin liners tied round his legs, and he was less than amused. So the last 3 days have involved much searching and, thankfully, finding. Waterproof trousers. Stuff. Anyway, he is now equipped and is off on Tuesday at 5am. Thankyouverymuch. I will be dropping him at school while half asleep.
I start work tomorrow. I am not sure why, but I have a strange feeling about this. No reason, just a very ambivalent feeling. I have no idea where it comes from. I have never had this before, and I am not sure what it means. There is more of me which wants to say no thank you than there is which wants to get in there and get started, and that is odd for me.
Perhaps because there are still so many things up in the air and unfinished and I can't get past them yet and now will have no time, and that makes it a long-drawn-out process. It feels like I will never get to the stage where I can just move forward in a way. I don't know. But right now part of me wants to walk in tomorrow and say thanks but no thanks. Really weird.
It has been cold and damp and distinctly wintery this week. And now I am off to make some cakes for David to take with him this week. Cinnamon cake. Maybe I will make one for us too.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It is cold and wet here, and I have been finishing off the studio, which is looking good. Photos will be up of the finished room probably tomorrow. It works. I zapped up some plain cream curtains this evening, and went straight to the curtain tape and then the hooks! I haven't got round to putting labels on drawers or boxes yet.
The UK is a little on edge today, after some imbecile at HM Revenue and Customs copied and then lost 2 or 3 copies of the Child Benefit Database. All 25 million sets of data, including National Insurance numbers, bank accounts, dates of birth etc. Perfect. Just perfect. So absolutely everyone in the country with children under 19 has compromised bank accounts. Including me. It doesn't matter how careful we are, shredding all personal details and protecting ourselves, when it is possible for the GOVERNMENT to lose our details. Give me strength. The PM has "apologised for the inconvenience." INCONVENIENCE???????? What planet is the man on?
You might note that I am feeling a little tetchy about this. You would be right. And, as I speak, England is losing the Euro qualifier football match against Croatia, and they have to win or draw, or else are out of the Euro tournament. Gloom and despondancy all round.
On a more cheery note, my friend Linds, in NZ, posted our Christmas presents early. They arrived today. I have yet to think about Christmas, never mind wrap or post anything. But it is great to have a parcel already!
Have a wonderful happy thankful day tomorrow,and I hope all your turkeys are perfect!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So now I have to finish all the bits of things I need to do around here this week, and take Mum out for a bit, and contemplate Christmas, and what has to be done before then, so life will be speeding up again. Not that it ever slowed down, but you get what I mean, I am sure. And the secret projects need to be finished too, and curtains to make.........why am I sitting here? I should be working!
Monday, November 19, 2007
The studio is still "getting there". I have spent today moving the contents of cupboards about, and the mess seems to rise expontentially. And the recycling wheelie bin is nearly full, and so is the car with all the things for the charity shops and the tip. I really do need a driver to go back and forth as I fling the stuff out the front door. I have not got the energy. And it takes a while to get moving, as I am stiff and aching from all the moving, lifting and all the rest. I was perched on top of the bookcases this morning drilling holes in the wall to screw on the brackets to stop them falling over. Then up a ladder, moving paintings. We have enough paintings to fill an art gallery. In fact, I am looking at a row of them stacked in the kitchen as I am writing this. Houses in South Africa were at least double the size of this one, and in fact, Mum's was probably 5 times the size.
The good news is that I can actually walk through the kitchen. And I can see some chairs. It is the small things that count here.
I have masses of reels of ribbons, and am off to get some rod tomorrow, because I have put up some hooks, and will thread the reels on to the rod and attach it to the hooks. So I won't have to rummage for the ribbon I need. That is the theory anyway. Louise has suggested that I hang some of my quilts from the railings on the deck. I may just do that. After I have painted them.
Ah well..... hopefully I will get it finished soon.
I just remembered - I have canes outside for the garden. I can use them to hold the ribbon. I am in a frugal mode! Lateral thinking. That's what I need!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The studio is still a work in progress, but it is getting better slowly. The piano is moved, and I have considered a zillion different furniture layout ideas for the lounge (which included knocking down a wall and rebuilding it in another place, which is clearly a step too far) and my son told his aunt to keep all further rearranging ideas to herself, and give him a break. In the nicest possible way I hope. I will post photos when it is finished.
And so another weekend has whizzed by.
Yesterday morning, I came down to read my emails quite early and discovered that we had no water. As in the cold taps were empty. After a few heartstopping moments contemplating mega bills for burst pipes or the like, I called my friend in Scotland and asked what no cold water means. As one does. He said that it meant someone had turned off the mains and to go and check if the neighbours had the same problem. They did. What a relief. It turns out that a water main burst in the village square, and flooded homes nearby in the middle of the night, and so the water company turned off the water. This meant a dash to the local shop for bottled water. The prospect of no coffee was not an option. I collected bottles for some neighbours too, and it was about 5pm when it finally started running again. Complete with mud. Quite disgusting. Understandable, but yuk none the less. I had to clean the bath before I got into it. Life is never calm and peaceful around here.
The BBC's Children in Need appeal was on last Friday night, and they raised over £19 million on the night. A new record. Amazing. The UK has a wonderful record of giving, and usually the total for the night is doubled by the time all the money is in. Given that there is a population of about 60 million, it is a stunning total. The money is spent on children, especially those in need here, and the organisations which support them, and on children all over the world, who are in need.
Watching the film clips of children who are carers, or children with special needs, or children's hospices, or children with crippling injuries, and the people who work with them, is awe-inspiring. The love, the patience, the dedication, the never giving up spirit is a salutary lesson to everyone who thinks they have insurmountable problems. I heard one young boy, who is a carer for his parents, say, when given the opportunity to join a group of young carers on a riding camp...... "I love the camp, but I love what I do for my parents. My life is good. " He was 10. Wow.
So right now, I am looking at the mess (yes...it is still here) and I am thinking.... Hey....it is just stuff. You will get it sorted. Think just how much worse things could be. I need to remember that.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Groan. Do you remember how I described my kind of cleaning the house? Where I start one thing, see something lying about, so stop. Move that thing, and then discover something in the place it is supposed to be and sort that then forget the first thing???? Okay, I know what I mean. Magnify that a zillion times and you will have an accurate picture of my house aka the Tip.
Yesterday, I gave all the pine wood in the new studio an undercoat of white paint. To make it look bigger. Climbing past and over the piano as I slapped the paint on. I am also doing the deck - underneath, to reflect more light on the darker area. I will do the railings at the top when I finally clear the steps, which are shelves right now. It will look good. In 2021. If I get there. And I cleared a path for the piano to be moved on Saturday, when the big strong men come to shift it for me, while I am being weak and feeble. Making tea.
Today was the Arrival of the New Fridge. What joy! What excitement! I was actually taking Mum to the dentist when it arrived, but Simon, father of the babes, came to wait for it while we were out. The men were groaning under the weight of the old one as I arrived, and then we discovered that the gap in the units was a little tight. I was not going to be thwarted at this stage, so I said....shift it a sec, and climbed into the gap, and kicked the cupboard, dusted down my hands, and said, try now. They got it in. The cupboards could have exploded out on each side, and I would not have batted an eyelid. That fridge was going where it was supposed to go.
Anyway, it is on, and great. It works. I am happy.
Then I went to Ikea, with my mother, who is 82. To get the bookcases for the studio. Do not ask. Try though she might, 82 year old mothers are not designed to try to help lift flatpack furniture which weighs more than a mid sized elephant. I heaved and shoved and completely lost the plot, but finally got it onto the trolley. (Just picture a middle-aged woman, with hair falling out of the slide pinning it back, glasses falling off the nose, re-faced, dripping with sweat, highly irritated and not a trace of elegance or serenity. Bag tossed on the floor, and foot anchoring the trolley while twisting sideways to heave. ) Thankfully, a charming gentleman (unlike the assistants who were mysteriously nowhere to be seen) helped me load them into the car, and we trundled home, where I unpacked the boxes in the car, and brought the bits in one by one, and deposited them on the floor. In the centre of the lounge.
And then, instead of finishing the painting and sorting, I constructed them. I now have 2 enormous bookcases lying on their side in the middle of the lounge, and a small table too, and nowhere to put them until the piano is moved, and the piano will have to go over/through/past them to get to where it is supposed to be. On their side, they do make very handy, if very large, coffee tables, and watching TV is somewhat of a challenge over the top. I never learn.
And the place where the piano is supposed to go is now completley hidden by the piles of everything that was lying about the place because..." oh my word, we can't let the delivery men think that we live in a mess". So that has to be moved back to the lounge, where the piano will be passing through and where the 2 ginormous bookcases now rest in splendour. Sigh. Logistics. I should be able to manage this better.
So here I sit, because I am happy to be a source of great amusement to the world at large, and I can put off getting started back at the beginning and actually sorting the first thing on the list.
Maybe I will just go to bed instead.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The mess. Oh my word. It is indescribable, and I lose the will to live when I walk into the chaos. I need my sister and Barb to arrive NOW to sort it out. I (Me. Alone. Singular. Stupid) heaved the piano across the room. Well, I exaggerate just a touch... about 5 feet. That meant I could get the old trusty Dyson out and clean behind it. And then dismember the desk and reassemble it in the space where the piano was. And then I flopped in the rocking chair and contemplated my toes and wondered what had possessed me to start in the first place. And had a snooze.
And today I have to defrost my fridge/freezer as the new one arrives tomorrow and the old one must be dry, said the man, who is also taking it away to dump. Which means that my kitchen is also going to be turned upside down to facilitate the removal /installation process. Oh what bliss. I did say it gets worse.
I did go to the doctor yesterday to check on the fingers, and he does not think they are broken, but they are damaged. And should be strapped. I did strap them, but took it off later when it drove me nuts. You do not want to know how it attached itself to the toast I was eating and started unravelling......
The good news is that David got an excellent report back from the teachers and I was delighted. And his uni application forms have been submitted. Tick the box. He is going to study forensic biology. As in molecular biology. Hmmm. He is unusual in that he is studying the 3 sciences for A levels, and yet writes beautifully. He has written a couple of books and has had a publisher suggest he finds an agent. And yet there is the obsession with science. It is rare to find the two opposites together. And his biology teacher mentioned with a smile that he needs to work on NOT making the biological facts sound more beautiful that they are! Not something she is used to having to say. An interesting child.
Right. I can put off the evil moment no longer, she says, flexing the muscles. The fridge awaits.
Heave ho, me hearties!!!!!!!
Monday, November 12, 2007
But the effort was worth it.
Today is Mum's birthday, and even though the house is still a diabolical mess, I think she had a good day. Well, I mean, what more could you ask for than to spend the morning (-1 degree early on) going to the clothing bank at Sainsbury's to drop off a car full of clothing and sundry other bits, followed by an exhilarating trip to the tip to drop off the things that no charity would look at? Excitement rules here at the Casa de la Rocking Chair.
About the charity biting back thingy........ the clothing banks are huge metal containers with pull down flaps for depositing your bags of clothing into, and they have handles to do this. I loaded a bag into the flap scoop thingy (there are a great number of "thingys" in this post I see) and let it shut, while holding the handle. Only, the lip of the flap had been bent, so it closed jamming my fingers between the handle and the container. Heavy flap. I think I have broken a finger. It looks rather odd, and it HURTS. 3 fingers are swollen, but the middle finger on my left hand is definitely wonky. Oops. I did phone the British Heart Foundation (who own the finger-eating contraption) to tell them it may need some adjusting.
And then I took my Mum out to lunch. That was good, and we had fun looking at all the Christmas decorations at our favourite Garden Centre. And the omelettes and salad were so huge that I did not have to cook tonight, so that was even better.
After going in to school to help the girls again, David and I moved a large oak chest of drawers upstairs to my room, which now looks like a furniture store, it has so much in it. Oh well.... I just use it to sleep in, so I can live with it for now. And did I mention that I painted the wall in the new studio before we went out on our exciting circuit of dumping grounds? My energy knows no bounds.
Friends popped in to see Mum, and I had to escort them through the chaos, wearing one shoe. I sort of lost the other one while I was heaving that chest up the stairs. My timing is not the best. For heaven's sake, I could have waited until AFTER Mum's birthday. Their faces sort of blanched at the amount still to do. Hmmm. They could have a point.
Anyway, there are now more bags waiting to be dropped at the finger-eating place. And there will be many more to follow. And the finger? I will see what it looks like tomorrow. More moving, more throwing out, more school, more meetings and to top it all, parents' evening at David's school. And now I am going to bed.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
And this is the room I am making into "my space". That is a piano back there, under all the piles. This is an interesting room. It was once the single garage, and I had it converted to a room when Mum and Dad came to stay. It has a high pitched ceiling, and I had a deck built over half of it, and there is a queen sized bed up that ladder. Great for when the kids come to stay.
Pete and Glynis popped round this afternoon, just as David was about to go on strike at the prospect of moving the gigantic cupboard. Pete suggested tea to fortify us, and then the 3 of us heaved the wretched thing into the old kitchen, which has been my sewing room. It will now be a store room and music room. That is , once we move the piano, which weighs a zillion tons.
We all know about changing rooms. My entire house is now a tip, and I am creaking in places which are definitely not supposed to creak. And I have run out of energy. I also need to do a trip to Ikea to get some bookcases. I am compromising. I would love to get a complete wall of units for storage, but it will have to be book cases, as my continual failure to win the lotto is proving to be a slight inconvenience.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Today is a real autumn day, and we have had it all...sun, wind, torrential rain (as I was taking Mum to have her flu jab of course) and tonight there is the possibility of a storm surge (sea) off the East Coast. I know that Norfolk and Suffolk are on alert, and so is the Netherlands. It could be the worst sea surge since the 1950s. Apparently it takes a combination of special circumstances to happen, and flooding could be widespread and bad. But then, maybe it won't happen. We will know at 7am tomorrow. I am nowhere near the sea, thankfully.
You will be pleased to know that I am actually sewing again. I am in the middle of my secret Christmas project, and I am really enjoying watching it develop. It is sort of evolving in my head as I go along. We have a wonderful patchwork shop here in the village, and I have called in twice this week to chat and pat the fabric. I needed some special thread, and resisted the urge to buy anything else.
The shops are full of Christmas things here now and before I know it, it will be time to haul out the tree and decorations. And think about all the things I should have been making over the year. Sigh. I am definitely scaling down the gifts this year, and focussing on things I make. That is the way it used to be, and somehow it got a little out of hand over the years.
My sister has suggested that I convert one of my downstairs rooms into a place for me. Like a studio/playroom. For me. This will mean chopping up an enormous dark oak cupboard which once belonged to my grandparents. It is huge, but I think I can make it into a work-surface, and storage unit for some of my machines etc. First, though, it will have to be emptied. Heaven knows what is in it. It is massive. I will post photos as I start the transformation. Changing the room will also mean moving the piano as well. It weighs a ton. And thankfully I have an extremely strong son in residence! If the weather is still foul over the weekend, it will be a good time to start. Watch this space!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I really wanted some misty mountains in the background, but then I gave up, and seeing that I was married to a career sailor, the harbour template seems an appropriate alternative. For now. It feels roomy and spacious, and I can spread out a little. I am stretching as I speak. Being hunched over the keyboard with gritted teeth makes me creak.
You might gather that I am not in an "all sweetness and light" mood.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
So instead you get the feeble ramblings of a middle aged woman who happens to be feeling very middle-aged at the moment. Doddering may be closer to the mark in fact. My son, in a fit of absent mindedness, hopped on a bus going in the totally opposite direction to the way he was supposed to be going at the crack of dawn, so I had an unscheduled trip to fetch him and drop him at school before I was fully awake. Too much focus on the iPod and too little on the actual number of the bus, I think.
This is the same son who stuck a piece of paper on the TV screen last night, saying "bed time, old ones", after taking photos of both my mother and me asleep in the chairs facing the TV. At 9pm. Did I mention middle-aged?? Ancient, maybe. What a blessing that boy is. Man. I forget he is 18 now. If he takes any more candid photos, he may not make 19.
I went into school yesterday to tell the girls what they need for their practical work and where to get it, and that was a strange place to be in. It felt weird to be standing in front of them, talking, and yet to not belong. They were very happy to see me, and that was lovely, but it was difficult in a way. I am not sure I am doing the right thing. For me. My idea of education and that of the powers that be seem to be diametrically opposite right now. The only reason I am going in is because I think these girls have been shortchanged in the worst way, and their future matters to me. They are capable of great results, but not without me, or another experienced specialist guiding their practical work. It is "not my problem", but in my heart it is. You know what I mean? They matter. I believe in them. I really do care. Dilemma. The head of department knows her limitations, and is fighting so hard for them, and yet the powers that be ............ maybe I should stop now. I have teaching friends who read this. (Hi guys... I love you all.)
I think I might just have underestimated the emotional cost of the past few months a little. Preparing for the Inquest, having to make mega decisions etc etc. Looking for a job. Sorting out Mum. Fighting legal battles. Trying to find answers to questions which haunt me. Being a Mum. Being a friend. Being a daughter. Being a woman. What? I have forgotten how to be the last one. Maybe one day.
Right now, all I want to do is hibernate. Sounds good to me. And maybe crawl out next spring to a new and different world.
The sun is shining, and the garden is covered with leaves and I should get out there and sweep them up. Or go and sew. Or make a cake. Or go for a walk.
Oh for a simple and uncomplicated life!!! Just for a little while.
Taking a deep breath....here are 5 things I am thankful for today:
- Laughing son
- Washing machines that work
- Reading glasses with 2 arms
- Enjoying coffee out with Mum
Monday, November 05, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
In autumn and spring, the sun is golden and everything is bathed in this amazing light. I took 53 photos while avoiding both sheep droppings and sheep. In about 15 minutes. The sun set at a really rapid pace too. I had not realised just how quickly it drops below the horizon.
This is where I used to walk Bailey, our border collie, who died a few years ago. It is a really peaceful place to go and walk around the lake. Unless you have a border collie who thinks she needs to arrange the sheep neatly in a little group. Which she did on one memorable occasion. And moved them 2 fields away from where they were in the beginning. The farmer thought it was hilarious. I thought she was going to bring the flock home to my house.
I think those sheep remember me. And Bailey. If you could have seen the looks I got from them as I tiptoed over the grass between them.........