Sunday, April 29, 2007
Yesterday morning, I took Mum to Podington for tea. The garden centre is my favourite and the best I have ever been to and the coffee shop is great. We looked at the bedding plants, and I resisted the temptation to buy loads, and just got a couple of tumbelina petunias. For now. I am not putting in masses this year, as we will be away for some of the time, and everything will expire. I will do the baskets, though. I love cascading flowers and colour. The other thing I did get was fleece for the allotment, just in case we have a few hard frosts. They had lovely little plastic dome thingies too, which you put over your plants. I refrained from buying them, but I did have this image of cake tray domes all over the allotment that made me smile.
It is bookclub here on Monday night, so I had to get some books. We do not all read the same book. Whoever is hosting buys about 5 books which go into the bookclub. Predictably, I can never find books I want desperately when it is my turn. Next week there will be dozens I covet. However, I have some that I think will make interesting reading.
House of Orphans, by Helen Dunmore, set in Finland
Be near me by Andrew O'Hagan, about an English priest who takes over a small Scottish parish
One thousand white women by Jim Fergus, about the Brides for Indians scheme in the US in 1875
Don't tell Mum I work on the rigs by Paul Carter, a biography of an oil rig worker who travels the world
They will have to do. I still have to clean the house, and buy the drinks and nibbles. Tomorrow.
Today I have been to church and also went to water the allotment. And the carpets. I am not certifiable. I decided that while the carpets will kill the weeds, I need the earth to be softened, so I watered the carpets so it can seep through and when we get round to the next dig, the ground will be manageable. I did get some very strange looks. The onions are shooting little green shoots, which is very exciting, and our bird scarer thing with dangling CDs has disintegrated in the wind, so I will have to get stronger fishing line. The type you can use to haul in very large sharks should do the trick. Not that there are any sharks in middle England, you will be pleased to hear.
So it has been a quiet weekend, with time to fall asleep on my bed, reading. There was a time when I could read a book a day. Sigh. Those days are long gone.
Friday, April 27, 2007
- Mum to dentist early
- Buy milk for staffroom.
- Year 8s. I will say nothing.
- Fix aging machines.
- Break: lecture on scissor safety delivered by enraged me.
- Fix aging machines.
- Year 9s. I will say less than nothing.
- Fix aging machines.
- Year 10s. Give me strength.
- Fix aging machines.
- Break: supervise Year 11s on aging machines.
- Discover MILK FINISHED. Restrain self from throwing self on floor.
- Give up fixing aging machines.
- Year 10s. I survived.
- Lecture on the "importance" of doing each others hair during textile lessons.
- Tidy department.
- Do road runner impression heading to car. (Cartwheels optional.)
The weekend is here. YES!!!!! And I didn't have to cook, as we were out to dinner.
I hope you all have a lovely relaxing time.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
There are lots of posts about at the moment on being "busy". I absolutely agree with them all. We spend too much time doing and too little being. I am the supreme example of this at the moment. I was wide awake last night when my mother and my son went to bed, and 2 minutes later, I dozed off in the chair and woke near midnight. I never did do all that paperwork I intended doing.
I have just deleted a paragraph of moans. I have been thinking about Heather all day. It sort of puts things into perspective. So what if the Inland Revenue NEVER answer their phones, and just tell you to try later? So what if school politics are still volatile? So what if you constantly feel guilty for not taking your mother out more often?
And now for something very different... I am watching a TV programme called "The Human Footprint" and it is all about the lifetime of an average person and the stats involved. Apparently the average marriage lasts 11 and a half years now. That is appalling. They showed the average number of clothes you will buy in a life time. It covered an entire ancient church. We have seen a pile of food that the average person will eat in a life time, and also the sewage generated. I could have done without that part. It is fascinating. The average age we will reach is 78.5 I think. We will get through 15 computers each. The environmental cost of producing a small laptop is the same as a car. We will send 40 tons of waste to landfill sights in our lifetime. Each. (See why it is fascinating?) We will each own on average of 8 cars each. We walk over 15 000 miles in a life time and drive average 452 652 miles. Which means 136, 900 litres of petrol. 59 foreign holidays. TV is watched average of 2 944 days in our lives. 8 years. 40% of people do NOT read at all. This is all British, I add. 2455 newspapers. 24 trees will be used for each of us to read those papers. We will vote in about 50 elections. Drink 74 802 cups of tea. (Not me!) 314 visits to the doctor. 30 000 tablets prescribed. 61 and a half litres of tears. We will have had 104 390 dreams. Our memories and dreams are the most enduring things we possess. Each of us will know on average 1700 people.
So, it is time for sleep again. Tomorrow is Friday, and another week has flown by. I need to slow down.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Those who know me, will know that the past year has been dominated by the collapse, illness and sudden death of Geoff. A man who never went near the doctor, except for his marine medicals every year. I could write a lot about that, but I am not going to this time.
Instead, I am going to tell you about my father, and his battle with Diffuse Lewey Body Disease. This is a very rapid form of Alzheimers, and I had never heard of it before Dad was diagnosed. He and Mum used to visit us annually from South Africa, and the week before they were due to come in November 1997, he was diagnosed. He was absolutely determined to come and "see his girls" and so the consultant told him he could go, but that it would be the last trip he would be able to make. Personally, I think he was determined to get Mum to me, so he could be certain that she was looked after. He never did get to go to see my sister in Switzerland, but she came over regularly to see him. We all supported each other.
The saddest thing about the disease, is that he had moments of complete normality and then in a second could be hallucinating. He was convinced that Mum was an imposter, and not the girl he had married. I think at one stage, he was sure that he had been married 4 times. (Memories of different stages of their life together). They had just been here a few weeks when the doctors here told us that he would never be able to fly again, as he was too much of a risk. Mum had spent the entire 12 hour flight wide awake and on the aisle seat in case Dad decided to go for a walk. At 35000ft. She was a wreck when they arrived, and Dad informed us that the plane had crashed into the terminal in the snow and everything was on fire. No no and no. My son looked at me and said...what did you say this disease was?
I deal with all medical dramas by trying to learn as much as I can about the disease, and so I had contacted the Alzheimers society and had spoken to people who knew, and read the leaflets and just about anything published. Before they arrived. I needed to be prepared. Our GP told me I knew more than he did, and would I please do a summary for him. We learned together.
In his moments of lucidity, Dad asked me what the prognosis was, and whether he had hurt anyone. I was reluctant to tell him, but in the end, I did tell him, and gave him the leaflet from the Alzheimers society. He kept it in his pocket for the rest of his life. He had made notes in the margins. I told him he had never hurt anyone, and he asked if he could. I said yes he possibly could, but that I would make sure that never happened. He told me to promise to do whatever I had to do to make sure.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
In the UK, gardens are small in general. Very small. There are, after all, 50 million people on this small island! Allotments have been around for about 200 years, but really evolved in the 19th Century, when the growth of industrial development led to so many people moving into high density housing in the cities, with no gardens, to work in factories, and the resulting poverty was what spurred on the growth of allotments. In urban areas, you will find allotment areas set aside, and people can rent one for a very small amount of money annually, to grow things. Most use them for vegetable gardening, and it is a social as well as horticultural enterprise. Most are owned by local councils, who rent them out, and waiting lists are very long. Ours is a private allotment association, which is great, as the council ones seem to be increasingly sold off for housing development. This is a real pity.
Geoff had grown up helping his father on their allotment. The 2 World Wars saw a huge growth in the need for people to produce food, and "Dig for Victory" was a slogan at the time. He always wanted one, and while recuperating from his heart op last year, I heard from a friend, who runs one of the two local allotment areas, that there was one vacant. Geoff leapt at the chance to start, and I thought it was excellent therapy and exercise for him, and so that was how it began.If you click on the allotment tag at the end of the post, you will see what it looked like when he started last year!
In a sense it is like a community garden. You all have your own area, and most have some sheds on them too to keep equipment. We have keys to the allotment gates, and it is not open to the public to wander in. Ours is a full size allotment and absolutely huge. I can't remember the measurements, but I quaked when I first saw it and the weeds. I think about 20ft x 160ft. But I could be wildly inaccurate. BIG.
David used to go and help, and when his Dad died, he asked if we could keep the allotment on. So it is still called Geoff's allotment, and all our friends came to help to dig and get it going. They are amazing. Because it is so big, some of them are also growing things on it, and that means that we will share our produce, and also that there will always be someone about to water. It is 5 mins drive from our house.
Some people make theirs into an orchard, some grow flowers, some have chickens. There is always someone around to ask for advice, and there is space for the babes to play too. We will get a bench and have it in the shade one day. We may have BBQs. But we WILL have plenty of vegetables!
Just in case you thought I didn't HAVE a garden at home, I do! But it is full of flowers and shrubs, and raised beds and patios. Not big, but I absolutely love it cascading all over the place, and there is just no more room to grow stuff like vegetables, and as I am in my frugal phase, the allotment is great. I have a zillion photos of my garden at home. I might post a few from last year. Hanging baskets and tubs and all.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Here are those photos of the allotment did in progress this morning. And yes, the babes worked too. We dug up great clods of earth and they smacked them apart with their little spades and forks. It worked really well.
The middle..... more people and more digging!
The gang hard at work!
All those twigs and branches are from the left side of the first photos. There will be a bonfire one evening. Bill, an allotment veteran of 20 years, (I met him today) informed me that " You don't worry now, me duck, I will set the fire in the evening and get rid of it for you". How nice. "Me duck" is a local saying. Like "my dear", "love", "sweetie" etc. Me duck. Phonetically = mi dook. I am rambling again. It is the after-effect of hard labour in the sun.
Go to the next post down for the finished product!
Our village is surrounded by farmland. At the moment, the oilseed-rape is in bloom, so the countryside is yellow. This also marks the start of the hayfever season, of course, and I get it, and so do my children, so we will soon be walking around with toilet rolls stuffed under our arms and slitty red eyes. Not to mention noses. Medication??? Of course. But does it work? Not really. It just looks really lovely though.
Here are the photos of the finished dig. Please note a great use for unwanted free CDs. They make a perfect bird-scarer-away-thingy. A new word I have just invented.
Note the carpets in the background. All we need now is a couch or two.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
One question required an answer and a reason for the answer, and the wonderful (wrong) reason was "because my teacher told me it was done this way". Yes. Well. Hmmmmm. Not that I recall. Nice try, though!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
And let me just say once again, that Boomama is one exceptional young woman. She should run for president. Now. She makes things happen.
I want to say something that is sort of relevant at the moment. I have never set much store in worrying obsessively about the future. (Just as well, really.) Today is what counts. Right now. Living life to the full today....loving without fear, laughing, smiling, counting my enormous blessings, making the most of what is there at the moment... these are the things that are important. I do not advocate stupidity, let me add! This does not mean irresponsibility or being foolish with finances. It just means that I am free from worry about what could, or might happen one day. Tomorrow. A year away. 10 years away. Of course I have dreams. Everyone needs dreams. I like to think about what I might do, or could do one day. Places I would love to visit, people I want to meet. Maybe. This is good. I still battle to separate the "want" from the "need", but I am getting there. There are no guarantees, and life can change in a second.
You know, whatever may happen, we will learn to manage. We make plans. We adapt. In South Africa before majority rule, there was a slogan "adapt or die" (it was also a satirical play which was wonderful). Adapting is how we all survive. Challenges come when we least expect them, and how we respond to them is how we grow. Change can be good, and we don't know the master plan, so we don't always see how until much later. We just have to trust.
So many of my blogging friends are facing huge challenges at the moment. One day at a time. Their grace and faith and honesty is amazing. Dreadful things happen. Tragedy happens. But so much good comes from the bad things too. Today is an example of that. How much we are learning from each other daily, and how thankful I am that I took the leap into the unknown and became a part of it all.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
School has been ok so far, but that could be because I can't hear the kids. There are some positives here!
You are all so sweet. I think being
However, normal service will resume tomorrow. One day is enough. And I look like the hunchback of Notre Dame when I lever myself out of the rocker, so sitting here for much longer is not a good idea. I may never straighten up again. Creaking is not desirable.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Last half-term holiday, I worked straight through, but this time, I have listened to advice, and to myself too, in the end, and have done no work. I needed the break, and it was good. I could have done without the virus or the (continuing) deafness. Tomorrow will tell if this was wise or not!
Today has been the most beautiful of days, and we went to church and then to the babes for lunch. It was wonderful to sit out in the garden, in the sun, and watch them play. A lovely way to end the holidays. They are growing up so quickly. I cannot believe the twins will be starting "proper" school in September. It seems just yesterday that they were born.
So here we go back into the fray. I am reminding myself every day of the thoughts I have every time I go and walk in my mountains. I need to remember balance, and to aim for that. So why do I already have a headache?
Saturday, April 14, 2007
- Deaf? WHAT WAS THAT??? Hmm. Oh yes. Still deaf. I have the tv on so loud you can hear the noise 2 roads away, and get this, I have a headache. From the noise. Which I can't hear.
- Chocolate? Nearly history. It is sitting ever so comfortably around my waistband. Which is garrotting my stomach.
- Friends? Met up with some for coffee, and they are fine, but have to shout as I have yet to acquire an ear horn. Which precludes female chatter. Conversation has to be fit for general consumption. Within a mile radius.
- Fun? I am the one providing the amusement for all and sundry in my afflicted state.
- Cleaning? I don't think so.
- Washing? Done. We did need something to wear after all.
- Ironing? You have to be joking. The sun is shining.
If you were hoping for pearls of wisdom, move swiftly on. None of those here today.
Boomama has leapt into action once again, to organise help for Heather and her family, in her own inimitable fashion. If you do not know Boomama, you have no idea of what an amazing young woman she is, and how she is swiftly becoming a catalyst for so much GOOD in our blogging community. She is the one who makes things happen in a way I can only applaud. Go now and visit both those links.
Links. Here comes that pearl of wisdom after all. We link to each other, and form a web. Forget the internet-speak and see it more as spider-speak. We are all individual people linking together to cocoon a friend in our own small way. Individually, we are insignificant. Scattered around the world. Together? There is no limit to the difference we can make. Cocooning one of our own in prayers too, is unbelevably powerful. I am honoured to be able to link up with so many amazing women and to share the laughter and tears, to be a part of that invisible web.
I have just been reading Heather's latest update. Go now and read. I nearly deleted the first half of this post. How trivial and unimportant somethings are. This is who we are, isn't it? Woman who deal with the trivial and banal, and the overwhelming and life-threatening. The sorrow and fear , anguish, love, joy, and happiness. I am thankful for so much in this moment.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I should not moan. I had 4 stunning days in the most beautiful place on earth, so I should be thankful. I love travelling. But actually propelling mother and assorted heavy bags through the process, ably assisted by my son, is not a complete joy.
My post today is mundane to the extreme. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up with everyone. I have taken mother shopping for food, and done battle with the power companies to retrieve overpayments. I have caught up with friends who have also had this horrible virus. And I am completely deaf from the pilot's decision to plant his plane on the runway after a nosedive. Well, it just actually seemed as though we descended rather rapidly, and my ears are still stuck at 38 000 ft. Inconveniently. I am now in need of an ear horn. Note to any pilot fortunate enough to be flying me anywhere....I need gentle descents. Slowly gliding downwards. Drifting like a leaf in the wind. None of this " Whoah...there is the runway.... let's land. Now. " nonsense.
I suppose the fact that I only paid £3.99 (+ tax) to fly there means there could be drawbacks. (Flying back was more, so don't get too excited.)
I have suddenly realised that I have turned into my grandmother. My Mum is quiet and gentle. Granny was a trifle more intimidating. She might have stopped to have a word with "the young man driving the plane" on her way in to her seat. And listed her requirements. Heaven help anyone if it had been a woman pilot. I am rambling. Enough. I am deaf. Did I mention that LOUDLY enough?????
I have 2 more days of holiday to:
- Clean this house
- Scrub the floors
- Do the washing
- And ironing
- Write lesson plans
- Sort the garden
- Read a zillion blogs
- Work out how I managed to kill my camera completely
- Go and look at the allotment
- Persuade my son to do some work
- Sort out my sewing room
- Springclean the entire house (as opposed to just cleaning)
- Visit friends
- Have fun
- Do some reading (book club is here at my place in a couple of weeks. I must buy the books too)
Personally, I think I could concentrate on the last 3 and forget the rest. And make some more coffee. Did I mention the small fact that I brought home Swiss chocolate?
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Today the trees are at the in-between stage. No leaves yet, and no snow either. Just tall stick like things with a stark beauty all of their own. No leaves to crunch under foot, and no slippery mush on the paths. They are getting ready to burst into colour again, and soon the mountain sides will be a host of different greens, but not just yet.
There is nothing I can add to the picture. It is just as it looks, only better in 3 dimensional real life. I never ever get tired of it. Never.
Here is where the forest ends, and the pathway widens. I sat on the far bench for a long while. You know, the only sound I could hear were the birds, and the water tumbling down the mountain side in a stream close by. Other than nature, it was so silent, and I was aware of just how noisy my life normally is. There is always a rumble of life in progress in the background, and I never notice it anymore, unless it is not there. Even through the nights in England, you can still hear that rumble. I am not sure I want to hear it any more. The quiet is so much more immense. I know what I mean. I hope you do too.
Coming over the hill back to the village, and the Kloster again. The monastery, but from the other side. That forest on the other side of the valley is where David and I walked down a few days ago.
This is so Swiss, isn't it?
Sitting in the forest, I let the peace seep into my soul slowly. I can't speed up that process. It takes time. And time is something I never have enough of. It is not like going to fill your car up with petrol. It doesn't click off when it is full, and I don't know if it ever can be really full. But sitting there, and letting nature work....using all my senses to absorb the beauty all around me and heal is something unbelievably precious.
I ask questions up there. I don't always get answers, but I know just why Jesus and many since him, have gone to the mountains in time of need. I just have such a strong conviction every time I am up there, that I am meant to take note of the pace of life, priorities, serenity and values I see so clearly while I am in the mountains. Which I lose sight of as soon as I get back to my normal life. I had a text message from a friend while I was standing looking down over the valley, saying that stillness was something they were appreciating on their holiday, and the slower pace of the community they were visiting. Sounds just like what I was experiencing myself. The need for silence and stillness and serenity.
Now, granted this is a village and not an urban sprawl. I am sure there are many stats and much data which would say differently, but here, I notice that everyone smiles. Everyone greets everyone else. They make eye contact. And let me tell you, it works. You cannot walk around here, and everyone walks all over the place, without smiling, and it changes everything about your day, and your attitude.
Tomorrow, we go home. I don't want to go.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Looking back toward the village centre, and I just loved the 3 little white haired ladies sitting together on the bench. The village is nestled in an amphitheatre of mountain peaks. You can turn 360 degrees and see mountains in front of you all the time.
This mountain "bowl" is called the End of the World. Up there is the chapel where my son's wedding was blessed. In Switzerland, it is the civil marriage that is first then the blessing in a church comes afterwards. I will tell you all about that magical summer soon. I will. And up there is the forest I love to walk in. I will go tomorrow. There is a grotto up there too, where I always light a couple of candles, and sit.
This is the mountain I sit and look at while I am on the computer in my sister's study. I walked along the river to take this photo. Now I have a mega headache, so am going to flop on the couch and snooze. I surrender. Too much in one day. Groan.
We have been down the mountain today to Luzern to do some shopping. And it is another beautiful day.
What I neglected to tell you is that I arrived here as sick as a parrot. I picked up a flu type virus that has been doing the rounds, and all I could do once we walked in the door, was collapse on the couch and sleep. We had to get up on Sunday at 3 to set off for the airport, park the car etc, and get the plane to Basel, then 2 trains here. I did tell my son he had to stay awake or we could make an unscheduled visit to Milan, which was where the train was heading. He stayed awake. We got here. And I refuse to waste any time being sick, so we are walking and getting out, but not as quickly or as frequently as I would normally be doing, I confess. I am shattered after a couple of hours. Sigh. Another by-product of age....taking longer to bounce back. I don't do "sick". And I refuse to miss a minute when I could be out on the mountains.
Ok then....little old camera and I will toddle off to see what else I can show you. Don't go far. I will be back.
Monday, April 09, 2007
David and I went on one of our "walks" this morning. Well, we always set out to do the simple thing, and then get sidetracked by wondering what is "up there", or "on the other side", or "what the view is like from up at the top" etc etc etc. This usually involves precarious descents sliding leaves, or ankles deep in snow. Today was no different. But we made it down intact and it was breathtakingly beautiful. This is my favourite place on earth, I have to say. Repeatedly, for those who know me. I fell in love with Switzerland when I was 12 and nothing has changed about that. (I am using a European keyboard, and all the letters are in the wrong place).
David and snow= snowballs and wet hair, and lots of laughter. I asked him to make footprints in the snow and he sank down a foot. Oops. He was wearing trainers, not snowboots. Oh well, he is tough! And he dried out quickly enough.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Soon it will be time to go and buy some bedding plants for all the pots, but traditionally, that happens at the end of May, once danger of frosts is gone. My lavender needs cutting back too. I forgot that yesterday. I love scented plants, and the lilac is indeed in bud.
I should be washing my car. It looks tired and grubby after the winter. This is not something I feel moved to do often. I am just enjoying the sun for a change!
Friday, April 06, 2007
Spring Harvest is an annual Christian event, and there are 3 weeks available in 2 places in the UK, and we go to the Word Alive week, which has the student stream. There are seminars, talks, workshops, and main events, Christian rock bands, huge worship meetings with the most amazing music, and speakers. This year, Charles Price from Toronto did the main talks in the morning, and Jeff Lucas, who is based in Colorado, did some of the evening ones. He is one of the organisers. I met him and had a chat on the last night. 7 000 people all there to listen, learn and take part. And the bookshop. Sigh. I could have done with a lotto win, and a lorry, but had to make do with one or 2 great new books.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I have walked on the beach. I have collected stones. I have paddled in the water, and yes, I still have 10 toes. I checked. David turned 18 yesterday,and had a great day. I hardly saw him. He was off doing things with his friends.