June

Well. Where to start.

Today would have been my Dad’s birthday so a bit nostalgic for me. At his barmitzvah he had strawberries, so my mother always tried to make sure there were strawberries for his birthday. Not so easy years ago.

Yesterday we returned from a long weekend at Center Parcs, with ED, her hubby and their little boy. He gets travel sick, and we all travelled from our separate homes by car on Friday, the hottest day of the year so far. Our air conditioning is fine, but theirs wasn’t working, so LCS ended up with heat exhaustion. A fair amount of vomming, lots of lying around being pale, and very difficult to get him to drink. By Sunday, however, he had perked up dramatically, and was much better. So Friday was much too hot. Saturday it rained all day. Sunday it was cooler and sunnier until the evening. I struggled with all the walking (really, really can’t ride a bike!) and the IBS, but we had a lovely weekend nevertheless. It’s great to see them.

Just fetched the cat from the boarding kennels. All was going swimmingly, despite the howling (her not me) until I took a wrong turn and missed the motorway. That’s actually ok because she hates the motorway worse than almost anything else, until I smelt a suspicious smell. Yup. She’d pooped. Then the yowling ratched up several notches, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it until we got home. Except for opening the car windows wide. And luckily it was all neat and contained within the towel/puppy pads in the carrier for just such an occurrence. Yeah.

So the cat is happy now, pottering in and out of the house/garden. I’m a bit fraught but not too bad. Hubby has popped to Marks and Spencers to get the stuff we need.

Today my job was fetching the cat. Done that. Knackered now! Tomorrow is sorting out the new router day. Last week we had major problems with the internet, some of which was the providers’ fault, some of which wasn’t. I had set the provided router up as a modem, and we have a separate router in the lounge, which improves the signal no end. But when I cut out the router, and made the old router back into a modem, it all worked. Sigh. So now we have a new router which I need to install. Yeah.

The washing is drying nicely on the line – love it when it’s dried outside. It just smells so nice!

May. Yeah.

The kitchen is finished, and hubby loves the induction hob. It’s great to have it done – it was only a few days of disruption but we have had another “sort-out/cull” and so everything is tidy now. Trouble is, neither of us can remember where we’ve put anything . . .

The induction hob was fitted after I took this photo . . .

YD, her hubby and their little girl have just gone back to New Zealand after a month here. They split their time between his family and hers. It was just so lovely to be able to cuddle them. ESW is an absolute joy. She even likes my little songs (The Welly Song, the Nancy Lee, etc etc). Their journey was better on the way back – Birmingham to Frankfurt, then to Changhi in Singapore, then to Auckland in NZ. On the way here it was fraught. They’re homesick though – they couldn’t get over how “normal” and familiar everything is, including friends and family. Decisions to be made.

The garden is a joy. Love it.

The M.E. has taken a new turn. Now, when I have an episode, my tummy joins in the party, in an IBS sort of a way. But now I’ve worked that out I can remain a bit more positive, knowing that it will pass. I am eating a diet suitable for IBS, and have discovered something called FODMAP (don’t ask what it stands for). Low FODMAP foods are better for me, so no brassicas, only 3 portions of fruit/veg per day, lots of porridge oats, much less processed meat (oh, sausages, I miss you!) and it seems to be helping.

No knitting mojo. None at all. Several weeks now since I picked up my needles. I expect it’ll return. It usually does.

Finally had the front lawn sown with clover. It’s growing well. We also have a little rockery now intended to stop lorries and vans from reversing over our lawn. It looks ok too!

April. Yeah.

Loads happening. Solar panels fitted – and making more electricity than we expected. Excellent.

It took a day to erect the scaffolding, a day to install the solar panels, and two weeks to dismantle and take away the damn scaffolding. Hmph.

Sold the double oven dual fuel range cooker, had a single electric oven fitted, and now awaiting new kitchen cabinet with induction hob and new worktop for most of the kitchen. We have Freecycled the five saucepans and two frying pans which won’t work on an induction hob. That took about two hours – amazing facility! Within approximately 3 minutes of posting the offer, we had lots and lots of replies.

So this is what our kitchen and utility currently look like.

This is what it looked like before . . .

Rockery set up in the front garden and front lawn seeded with clover. Only a week ago so no sign of sprouting yet but I’m quite excited about it.

So many things going on that it’s triggered an M.E. episode. Sigh. So I’m taking it really really slowly – I slept for most of the past two days – and just putting the shopping away was enough for today.

Garden. Books. TV

Loving the garden. Just loving it. I got the table and chairs out of the shed yesterday so I could actually sit outside (when it’s not raining . . .)

Just finished a marathon John Sandford binge. Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers, love them both. I also like that the characters are connected, and mentioned in books about the other one. Yeah. Then I tried to download some library books, and the Solihull library account is fine, but the Birmingham (UK) one isn’t. I have one last thing I will try and then if that doesn’t work just give up on Birmingham. It just widens the range of books I can download.

Also – Netflix. Heavily into Ozark – oh my god it’s so dark. And the plot twists always catch me by surprise. Nobody is very happy though. Everybody is either furious or terrified.Or dead. Nearly at the end of season 3 now . . .

And Parks and Recreation – late to the party as usual but oh we love this! we watch an episode or two of this after one episode of Ozark. I love all the characters, but I think my absolute favourite is April. And I worked for local government in the UK for the last 15 years or so of my working life, so it’s really interesting to see how it works in the US. The style reminds me of The Office, and the looks straight to camera crack me up every time.

Today I made some (dairy free) chocolate chip cookies. Yum. Thank goodness for the Thermomix (Bimbi). Makes cooking so damned easy.

More on The Log

Well. It turns out that to prevent a log from weeping sap, it needs to be kiln-dried. Thank goodness for Google. I eventually bought a Swedish torch thingamajig which is kiln-dried, and hubby helpfully cut in half. Sap-weeping log is in disgrace in the garden. Kiln-dried log is now in the lounge. Bertie the cat, of course, has taken absolutely no notice of it. So the next step is to lure her in with catnip. Usually works. The plan is that she uses the log to scratch, rather than the carpet.

sappy log

kiln-dried

After two years of waiting (Two Years!), cancelled the guy who was supposed to be digging up and relaying our front lawn with clover. Asked our garden maintenance guy to quote, and he came today. I’m excited all over again about it.

I thought I could feel a sharp edge on one of my bottom teeth. After checking in the mirror, I can see I’ve managed to break a corner off a tooth, or maybe a filling? either way I went to see the dentist, and am going to have a white filling (rather than a grey one – why on earth do they do grey ones at all??), at great expense, in ten days or so.

Being really careful about how much stuff I do each day. It seems to be keeping the M.E. at bay, so I think I’ll continue on this path. I have various forms of exercise – all very easy and not too taxing. One is a series of four or five stretches which help my back. One is a walk round the block (8 minutes). One is a 20 minute “yoga for seniors” session. I can’t do any of those every day, but my thinking is if I do at least one of them each day, that provides a variety. Also it means I can adjust my exercise to the weather and how I’m feeling. Yeah.

The garden is really starting to green up now. It’s just so lovely to see.

I’m just so sad about the Russia/Ukraine business. I think Putin has lost his marbles. He looks a bit puffy in the face – or is that just me? any way you look at this a lot of people are going to be hurt/killed. And for what?

Three Things

Unamused Face Emoji

Thing 1: my Kindle died. Told me it needed charging, despite 57% showing. Plugged it in and left it while I slept for 2 hours or so, nothing but an exclamation mark when I woke up. Dr Google says that means the battery is not communicating with the device. So I’ve ordered a new one. Huh.

Thing 2: I managed to drop a full bowl of cold porridge on the tiled kitchen floor today. Cold porridge and broken bowl all over the place. Cleaned it up, harrumphing the while, and had toast for breakfast.

Thing 3: the Royal Mail has only just delivered, today, 11th February, the 18th birthday gift for a granddaughter whose birthday was 5th February. I posted it on 24th January. However, on the plus side, at least it was delivered. I’ve just managed to obtain a refund for two parcels to Dublin which were returned to me because Royal Mail mucked up the Customs process. Twice! so I’m highly relieved that the birthday gift has arrived, even if it’s late. Grrrr. Won’t be using Royal Mail for any more parcels to Dublin!

February!

I’ve been able to knit a little, which feels so lovely. Here’s a picture of the tension gauge square I did for the cardigan I’m knitting.

The garden is coming to life. Love it.

Here is a story about a log.

The cat goes to kennels when we go away, and in each cat pen they have a real log for the cats to scratch. What a good idea, I thought. Maybe that might stop her ruining our carpet. I kept my eyes open. One day, on my small walk, I saw some tree surgeons cutting down and chipping trees. I asked if they could spare one of their logs, and they said yes that’s fine. So I lugged it home, scrubbed it down, and put it in the corner on a towel so that the cat could scratch it.

Next thing, hubby informs me he cannot stand it. We are not living with a log in the room. Apparently. It looks awful. Imagine my glee (it was quite heavy). After a short while (!) we discussed it again, and we agreed it’s a bit big, and needs sawing down by a foot or so (30 cm ish). When hubby moved it into the garden to do this, he discovered it’s oozing sap. Yes it is, it’s fresh. So now it’s in the garden, weathering, and hopefully oozing all its sap before we get it cut down. I’m going to ask the gardener chappies if they could bring a power saw one day.

Hmph.

The old M.E./C.F.S has reared its ugly head and involved several days asleep in bed. I’m being much stricter with myself about how much I do and when. We shall see.

Also, picked up my new glasses. Very pleased.

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.