Happy 2022 (hopefully)

Well now. What’s been occurring? not that much, but it felt like time to blog.

Here is a photo of a very small, very brave primula, doing its best against the odds. In January! Why is it getting eaten by snails/slugs? It’s in a pot, protected, and it’s really cold outside!

And here is another photo, of me using my paraffin wax bath for my wonky hands. It takes two hours to heat up, and is very very hot, so you just dip the wonky bit in for a nano-second, and then wait for the wax to dry, and dip again. Repeat a few times (6 – 10 times is recommended) and wait for the wax to dry each time. Then I leave it on for a little while, till I’m bored, then I peel it off again.

Oh, Windows 11 is a pain. Slow, and won’t shut down properly. I’ve had to fiddle about with it to make that work. FFS. Why? It’s such a basic, essential part of computing. Harrumph.

Just read Billy Connolly’s memoirs, Windswept and Interesting. I love that man. He is just so honest, funny, and I’ve followed his career for many many years. While I was reading it I was hearing him say it in his Glaswegian accent. He had a terrible childhood but managed to leave it behind and become the person he is. Love it. Just love it. About to start on one of Jack Whitehall’s books (another British comedian). Love him too. Very different sort of guy from Billy, but has me gasping with laughter.

Progress, sort of

I have just finished the second tension sample for the cardigan. Yes. Just. Normally it takes me an evening to knit up a sample square. Hey ho. Well, that one is too big too. I’m going to have to do another one on slightly smaller needles. Ho hum.

Went to Brighton the weekend before Christmas to see family. We stay in a lovely hotel in Bramber, which is right next to an old castle and church. It’s really nice and there is parking! which is an issue in Brighton. It’s about 15 minutes away in the car from ES. The only fraught thing about the whole weekend was charging the electric car. The infrastructure is simply appalling. Even when you find a charging point, you’re lucky if a) it’s working and b) there’s no queue. And it was cold!Christmas Day was wonderful. Just hubby and me. No worrying about the Appalling Mother any more. Just lovely food, gifts (of which more in a moment), siesta and relaxation generally.

One of the things hubby gave me was a paraffin wax bath for my wonky hands. Sometimes used by beauty salons, they are good for arthritic and painful hands. I had a go with it yesterday – takes some setting up the first time, as you have to wait for 3 x 1 lb blocks of paraffin wax to melt, but it was worth it. It’s very hot – 50-55o C – so you just dip the painful part in and take it straight out again, wait for the paraffin to set, and dip again. About 6 – 10 times is recommended. It is so soothing. The paraffin wax just peels off, and you can discard it, but as I’m the only person using it, I’m reusing the wax.

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Both the physio and the surgeon have discharged me from the hospital – 5 months after the operation.

It should continue to improve hopefully. Still a little swollen and quite stiff but I can manage most things.

Watching some excellent tv – Succession series 3, The Great series 2, the films Spencer, and The Power of the Dog. Wonderful drama. Spencer is about Diana (of course) and takes place one Christmas. The stuffiness and insistence on adherence to tradition, however dreadful, is claustrophobic. Some characters are invented, but make a strong point. Charles is portrayed as completely hidebound by the rules, but not a bad chap overall. Diana is portrayed as being very unhappy, resentful of Camilla Parker-Bowles (the mistress), unsurprisingly having mental health problems, and a wonderful mother. The Power of the Dog is a Western of a very different type from usual. Shot in New Zealand, directed by Jane Campion, it’s very very good. Dark and powerful.

Also last night watched Billy Connolly’s “My Absolute Pleasure”. He’s nearly 80 now, has Parkinson’s, and is such a lovely, lovely man. His sense of humour is delightful. I just love him to bits.

Hubby has gone into Solihull to spend some Christmas vouchers. Also he doesn’t feel comfortable being in the house when the cleaners are here. So I’m doing this, he’s in Solihull, and the cleaners are cleaning.

I’ve ordered myself a “monocular”. I can’t see through binoculars because of the stupid double vision, but I can see through a monocular. The plan is that when I see an interesting looking bird through the window I can grab it and actually see what’s going on. Mm. We shall see.

Not terribly pretty, but yum!

Made an apple and almond cake for Christmas. Hubby doesn’t actually like fruit cake. This is a recipe from Nadiya Hussain, who is just wonderful. I didn’t use olive oil for the icing though, just dairy free butter cream. And for Christmas I did white glace icing so it looks a bit more Christmassy. It’s absolutely delicious. Quite rich though. Even I can only manage one slice per day. But Oh. My. Days. it’s yummy.

I had to get a new computer in the end. The motherboard was clearly in distress. Strange random beeping noises and kept falling off the internet, when everything else in the house was fine. Hm. And managed to work out it is 3 years old. Not old for a personal/domestic computer, but the industry standard when I was working in tech (20 years ago now I know!) was to replace workstations every three years. So I’m on Windows 11 now. Had to tweak it a bit because it was quite slow, and took me a whole day to install it – which is usual, I will say, for Windows. But I’d backed everything up, so haven’t lost any data, so am fairly smug about it. I just need to nuke the old hard drive and Freecycle it – with clear warnings about the dodgy motherboard.

Hubby uses his Virgin email address and it wouldn’t work the other day. Eventually after much faffing about I discovered that it was locked for some unfathomable reason. So I ran a virus check (clear) and managed finally to change his password. After an hour it magically unlocked itself. FFS. What is that about? Damned blasted technology. But I think I won, even if I don’t know what happened. Mm.

And here is a photo of our cat. Just because.

And a very Happy New Year to you all.

Further Developments

Well, you’ll be delighted to know that the “empire” biscuits are absolutely delicious. A bit substantial, but delicious. Even I can only manage one at a time. I will be making those again!

The next day I made a Raspberry Bakewell Slice, which is something I do regularly. The last one wasn’t so great, but this time I made a special effort and actually read the recipe, and checked before/after I did anything. It’s for family at Christmas.

And as I’ve been feeling quite low and pathetic, weak and wobbly, I decided I’d have a go at some exercise for “seniors”. The exercise videos on YouTube for “the elderly” are mostly sitting down ones, and I can actually stand up . . . so I had a go this morning at Joe Wicks’ 10 minute exercise routine. I managed 5 minutes and that was fine. The next 5 minutes are a repeat of the first, so I’ll work up to that. Got the old heart pumping. Feeling quite good about it. If not actually smug.

Dreamed that our garden was horrible. Very glad to wake up and find out it is lovely. Here are some photos.

When I was at my lowest point in July and August, I was trying to think of what would help to cheer me up. The first thought was being by the sea. Not going to happen, I couldn’t have managed the journey. Next thought – being in the countryside. Same. So. I sat in our garden, in my pyjamas, with a cup of tea or a glass of water, just sitting. It was lovely. When it had rained, I could smell the herbs – rosemary, thyme, sage, mint. Just being outside helped so much!

Finally finished the tension sample for the cardi I have planned. It came up a bit big, so I’m doing another sample on a size smaller needles and will see how that turns out. I have a plan A and a plan B (of course!)

Winter is almost here

Today I did some baking. They’re called Empire biscuits (I don’t like even the word “empire) but they look lovely. Yet to be tasted . . . .

Hubby put up three wicker nest “boxes” at various points around the garden. The other day we were absolutely delighted to spot a little wren going in and out of one of them! excellent! however, as the photos show, I have a wildlife camera situated immediately above it. Now I dare not touch that particular camera because I don’t want to frighten the wrens. And that camera has the best view of both the bird feeding stations. Humph. I’ll just have to wait until any baby birds have fledged and then see where I could move it to.

Slowly starting to knit again. I’m doing a sample tension square, and normally I do one of those in an hour or so. It’s taking me ages and ages. Must be two weeks since I started it, but I can only knit two or three rows at a time – and there are only 28 stitches! ho hum. It still feels nice to be knitting again though.

(It’s actually a dark, garnet red)

I have a yellow rose, much beloved, that my sister gave me for my 60th birthday. It struggled with black spot this year but after some treatment came back fighting, and now there are buds trying to bloom despite the frost. Love it.

Not much happening, but . . .

Japanese Acer turned brilliant red in the autumn.

When I bought this years ago it was a twig. A tiny little twig. It’s in a pot so I can keep the soil ericaceous as that’s what it likes. It’s just outside the patio door so it’s protected by the house on one side and the fence behind it. I just love it. It needs very little maintenance. Every other year I scrape off the grit and top compost and put new ericaceous compost on top.

Still not started knitting yet – I have settled on a pattern and some yarn (Bergere de France Ecoton in this colour). I’ve gone off the original pattern I bought the yarn for, and found another pattern. (I prefer the shawl collar in this one). Then realised I needed more yarn. Luckily you can order from Bergere de France by dye lot number! which is excellent. However, what has happened now is that the extra yarn has arrived, but the original yarn has not. Apparently their system removes my house number from the label, so it’s probably gone back to the factory. In France. Yeah. Still, I’m enjoying the anticipation. And the colour of the yarn is even better in real life than I’d hoped. Mm.

Youngest granddaughter has lost her first tooth! Her mum has made a special pouch for the tooth so that the tooth fairy can find it easily. Her cousin (who lives in Southampton) is a year older than she is, and he decided to keep all his baby teeth in a box, so he can throw them at people should he want to. Love it.

Yesterday I made a cake. Different from my usual – a recipe from Nadiya Hussain. It’s apple and almond, dairy free. It was really good. My last efforts (muffins) eventually went mouldy, they were so dreadful. But this is nice. May well make it again. In fact, just thinking about it I want to eat some! but will wait till I’ve had my lunch.

Progress

Of a sort, anyway. The pain in my hand is almost negligible now, and I hardly need any painkillers. Still stiff and a bit swollen, but I have my exercises which I do several times a day and physio tells me I’m doing really well.

However, I’m still not regaining the weight. 8st 6lbs now. Saw the doctor who arranged blood tests and a stool sample test, so am waiting for the result of those.

I feel generally better but am still very tired and it seems to be taking a long time to go away. Surgery was on 21 July, so nearly 3 1/2 months ago. But then I’m older now and really don’t react well to general anaesthesia. Ho hum.

The garden is a delight. Just beautiful. And very busy with birds! Nuthatches, sparrows, blue tits, great tits, wrens, and the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. I do love Autumn.

We have family all over the place – Dublin, Southampton, New Zealand, and friends in France, so I’ve been busy wrapping Christmas parcels (a few birthdays in there too!). Got a good routine now and lots of boxes piled up in the study awaiting further attention.

On Monday it was hubby’s birthday. So last week his son (who lives in Dublin) came over as a surprise with his wife and little boy. I knew about it but was sworn to secrecy. Managed to keep the surprise until we actually got to the restaurant, and he was just so pleased to see them. Also, his son who lives in Malvern came along with his daughter. Just lovely.

I’m late to the party I expect, but have recently discovered new authors. John Sandford, Tony Kent and Zoe Sharp. Absolutely unputdownable. All of them. I’m delighted to discover that there are lots and lots of the John Sandford and Zoe Sharp books. Can’t wait for Tony Kent to write another one. And Lynda La Plante has introduced a new protagonist, Jack Warr. Also very very good. Meanwhile I’m reading John Le Carre’s final book, Silverview. I am enjoying it but it’s a bit confusing. Nearly at the end/denouement now. Mm.

Getting There

Improving but slowly. It’ll be eleven weeks tomorrow since the op. Swelling in my hand is less, pain is less, but still very stiff. Things I can now do include showering, hair washing, dressing myself, eating mostly right-handed, even started a bit of crochet (a few minutes at a time, with an ergonomic hook).

(This is an older photo)

But. I lost all the weight I’d regained. I now weight 8st 7/119 lbs/53.9kg. I was 9st 7lbs. So even my skin is too big. Am weighing myself every week (too depressing to do it more often than that) and the doctor is aware. I am to arrange a phone consultation if I lose any more, or don’t put any on, within 3 weeks of when I last spoke to her. That means another week.

I do feel ok though, perkier generally, but more tired than usual.

Yesterday went to the osteopath. Today took the cat for her annual flu jab. She hates the car and howls the whole journey, but is quite happy at the vet, even purring while she’s being examined. And she takes absolutely no notice at all of the injection!

Tomorrow we’re going to the tip (recycling centre). We have to book now because of Covid but that’s ok. No queues! and once we’ve booked it means we have a quick sort out to make sure we are taking everything.

Almost done with the Christmas shopping. A couple of gifts to get, but mostly done otherwise. Parcels arriving almost every day. Thank goodness for internet shopping!

The state of the UK is dire though. And the government will simply not admit it’s because of Brexit. And why is anybody surprised that hardly any HGV drivers have applied to work here? why would they? Brexit made it clear that the right-wingers don’t want “foreigners” here. It’s our own stupid fault. So we have queues at petrol stations, shortages of workers, and we insult the NHS staff by offering them a paltry 3% pay rise. After all that clapping to make sure they know that they’re valued. Harrumph. Just Harrumph. I try to avoid the news because it’s so damn depressing.

However, our garden looks lovely. Despite everything.

And I’m back!

It’s almost 9 weeks since the surgery. I’ve managed to regain half of the 14 lbs/6 kilos I lost, so I’m a bit thin but not too bad. Appetite still not great though. The hand is still painful and very stiff, but I’m doing my exercises. Physio on Wednesday so we shall see. I can drive – although it’s uncomfortable it’s so much more convenient.

Managed to do a little bit of gardening – planting mostly. Some alliums – I love those, they look like fireworks when they bloom – and some pretty tulips (Carnaval de Nice). Will have to wait for next year for those to grow though. So today I planted some winter pansies and a white heather in a pot each. Lovely.

One of the things I did each day while I was feeling so poorly was sit outside in the garden for at least half an hour, just sitting. It was lovely. So good for the soul.

The plumber is currently here. I’ve been able to hear a dripping noise for a couple of weeks now. Hubby’s standard reaction to anything like that is 1) it’s not happening. 2) well, it is happening, but it doesn’t matter.

It’s not until we get to stage 3 (damp carpets) that he finally agrees we need to do something. So now the plumber has found at least two leaks, and may have to knock a hole in a wall. We have water dripping through a ceiling, a very wet carpet in the study, and a big old mess behind the washing machine. The water is turned off, so no hand washing or going to the loo. We shall see what develops.

Ooh. Another plumber has arrived. So we have two here, making plumber-type noises. I expect we’ll need some repairs and redecorating done. Hmm.

The pest control people have managed to get rid of the rat who was living under the shed. Ewww. We have some special wire mesh which we are going to fix to the shed supports so that nothing else can move in there. The squirrel has been exercising us too, damn thing wants to eat all the bird food. But he can’t get at it now. Hubby has devised a rather Heath-Robinson but very effective system which stops the squirrel, but allows the birds to get in to the bird feeder. In fact, the pest control guy said feeding the birds was a sure way to attract rats. Mm. So we moved the bird-feeder further away from the shed.

No knitting or crochet yet. I did pick up some stitches for a friend the other day, which was quite complicated, but I managed it ok. Paid for it later though! thank goodness for ice-packs and Co-codamol . . .

Some ups, some downs.

Got a Date

Not that sort of date, no no no. I’m very happily married thank you very much.

No, a date for the surgery! on 21 July they’re replacing both wonky knuckles. I’m excited and nervous in equal measure. Altering things so it’ll be easier afterwards – brought haircut forward, ordered LimbO arm protector, preparing hubby for all the extra things I’ll need help with . . .

I did have an arm protector, but can’t find it anywhere. I may have given it to Mother when she had arm surgery. If not, it will turn up immediately after the first use of the new one.

It’s my right hand, and that is my dominant hand, so quite a lot of things will be difficult for a while. But I have suitable clothes from when they did a trapiezectomy on my left hand in 2013 – elastic waisted clothes because I don’t expect to be able to manage zips or buttons . . .

And most of all I’m very impressed with how quickly it’s happening! possibly because it’s hand surgery, and I’m not sure how many people are waiting for that. Hip replacements and bigger operations I guess have a much bigger waiting list. It is through the NHS, so it’s remarkably fast.

It will be a general anaesthetic, which always knock me about. Always. For several months. But still . . .

I’m burbling now. I’ll stop.