Built-in obsolesence

At least I assume that’s what it is. Today I had set aside for ironing my stuff. When I switched the iron on at the plug it went PFFFSSSSTZZZ. So I switched it off, and left it a few seconds, then on again. No more spitting, but a strong smell of burning. Switched it off again, brief but productive conversation with hubby, and have ordered a new one to arrive tomorrow.

Then when I was drying my hair I realised that it’s been a couple of weeks since it’s smelt of burning when I switch on the heat, so I’ve been drying my hair with cool air. Yeah.

This morning I had toast for breakfast with marmalade. I like my toast nice and dark, so I always turn the setting up. But the toast came out very pale and only half done on one side. Then I couldn’t remember if I’d turned the setting up or not, because it’s such a habit.

So. I have in my “basket” at my favourite shop a new hairdryer, and a new toaster. Next time I do toast I will take careful note of the setting, and see if I need to order said toaster.

Sigh.

I’m going to label the power cord on each new thing when they arrive with the date so we can see how long things last.

On Friday and Saturday nights we watched two documentaries about the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. The first one was interviews with various firefighters, at all levels, including their big boss, and with various other folk involved. I was so impressed with their honesty, their obvious care for each other and the cathedral, and the team work. The only thing that irritated me was Rector Chauvet. He talked about himself. What a wonderful parish priest he thinks he is, popping into all the local shops for “un petit verre”, and how dreadful this was for him personally. It was all about him. Oh, and he was very pleased (proud) that President Macron and he went into the cathedral together when it was safe (ish). Where’s the humility? compassion for others? Eventually he managed half a sentence about the dangerous work and risk to life, but only just. Hmph.

The second one was about the restoration. My goodness, the detail, the research, the history, the work that is going on to ensure that it is as well restored as is possible. Architects, historians, carpenters using medieval tools, specialists in stone, I could go on. Each carpenter building the original had left his personal mark on the wood! it’s like looking at a job finished yesterday. Very very interesting and moving. And what’s more, the knowledge of the properties of stone and wood even all those hundreds of years ago was pretty damn good. Lighter stuff on the roof, stronger denser stuff for the pillars – how did they know all this? and there are many, many good ideas for the finished project.

Finally have an appointment with the opticians on Wednesday. My day to day varifocals haven’t had the prescription updated since May 2018, my computer glasses since May 2017. I can tell that they really need updating. The delay is because of the double vision I have which suddenly got much worse, so I was referred to the eye clinic at the hospital to make sure nothing else is going on. They finally discharged me and eventually sent me the letter containing the information the optician needs. Hooray! I have ideas for my new frames already . . . .

Achievements.

Flu jab – done.

Mammogram – done and results received (clear).

Knitting project – discovered I had knitted the back of a jumper for a nearly-6-year-old in the next size up. It was massive. It meant I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish it. I searched online and nobody else has any left over of this yarn. The maker has stopped making it in this particular colour. So I undid it all and have started again. Sigh.

Shopping delivered this morning – unpacked, wiped and put away. Hubby and I do that together.

Scandi-noir series DNA – finished last night. Yeah. Not clear while watching about time frames – is this now? is this years ago? but overnight have sorted it out in my head. I think.

Ignoring Trump-Giuliani-tantrum – mostly.

Posted a birthday present for end of November. Fortunately, it’s not the jumper I’ve messed up!

Tried out new John Lewis jeans – so comfortable I’ve ordered another pair.

That’s quite a lot really, in my head.

Mm.

Busy, busy.

For me, anyway. Busy for me does not equal busy for other people.

However, I have crocheted three small items (gifts so no details), continued knitting for one of the grandsons, and actually managed to wrap most of the Christmas presents. Normally most of them go into gift bags and are handed to the recipients, but of course this year they all need to be wrapped and posted. We have family and friends in Dublin, Malvern, Brighton, Southampton, France, and New Zealand. The last of these I already posted and has actually arrived.

The crochet was a bit fraught, though. I started on a thing I’ve done before, three times, without any problems. This time I just could not get it right. The edges were all over the place and the stitch count was always wrong. Eventually, after six re-starts and a new pattern, and watching very useful YouTube video tutorials on how to turn and where to poke the hook for the first stitch, I finally got my head round it. Phew. Now I have ordered some more appropriate yarn and will do some more when it arrives.

Also took the plunge and ordered new bras (see what I did there?!) We shall see what transpires.

Have spent a lot of time sleeping lately. Today I did get up but had to go back to bed at 10, and slept till 1 pm. Got up, showered and dressed (always an achievement).

We’ve been watching a three-part series on Berlin in 1945. Old diaries and old films have been skilfully put together. It was difficult to watch, particularly for me, as I have Jewish heritage, but worth it. I felt quite sorry for the people, except for one young woman who worked in an office, when she wrote how dreadful it was for “we Germans” to demean themselves. She was talking about the manual work, collecting and sorting bricks. When I’ve seen the photos of women doing that I’ve always assumed they self-organised. Nope. No. They were organised by Russians, or British, or Americans, and clearly resented that, and doing the manual work. Hmph.

Have also just finished reading “The Good Germans” which was very interesting and surprising. I read “The Good German of Nanking” years ago and was profoundly touched. I also have “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, which tells a very different story about how normalised and widespread anti-Semitism had been for many years before WWII. So it was heartening, and good for me, to read about high-ranking Nazis who were what was referred to as “Beefsteaks” – brown on the outside and “red” on the inside, which means that they were secretly anti-Hitler and did all they could to subvert his policies. For example, one particular senior Nazi was also a Quaker, and managed to arrange for various Jewish people to be sent to Quaker houses in America.

Sometimes I think some of us (certainly I do) live in an echo chamber, so that our own views are reflected back to us and hardly ever challenged. So I do try to understand other points of view when I can.

I even feel a little bit (only a very little bit) sorry for Trump. He is acting, in my view, like a spoiled 74 year old child, refusing to accept he lost. Thank goodness the judges and the courts are upholding the law and ignoring the tantrums.

It feels a bit calmer now and I have hope that a smooth transfer of power can actually take place. Mm.

To The Wire

Wow but it’s been tense this last week. I live in the UK, but it feels like the whole world has been awaiting the results of the US election.

I am so relieved, just so relieved, that Biden and Kamala won. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, despite Trump’s blustery tweets (which seem to have gone very, very quiet this weekend).

There is of course a lot to deal with now, including how on earth it was such a close race.

Ho hum. I do have a lot more thoughts on this particular subject, but not sure it’s appropriate to share them right now, as there are a lot of people who will not be at all happy with the election result.

So what’s been going on here? at our house? well, I have a niece who is 40 years old today. Lockdown celebration of course, and her sister collated video messages from family and friends which she’s made into a delightful mixture. It’s just so lovely.

And last Sunday hubby had a birthday, so I made him a chocolate cake. Dairy free of course. It was, even though I say it myself, absolutely delicious. I baked it on the Saturday, but we couldn’t wait until the actual birthday to start on it, so we had some on Saturday . . . . And on Sunday evening, just before national lockdown, we went to Lambs of Sheep Street in Stratford upon Avon, which is a fabulous restaurant we go to regularly. Excellent. Hubby had steak, I had duck. Delicious. Then we went home and ate some more chocolate cake . . .

Then hubby’s very old MiniMac computer started playing up. It had Ubuntu installed on it, because one of the iOS updates broke it. At least Windows will tell you if an update is inappropriate (usually). But even with Ubuntu, it was failing. So now he has a Lenovo with an SSD. Runs like the wind. But it arrived with no DVD drive in it. I am in correspondence with Lenovo (We bought it direct from them) to find out why. I’d like them to send me the drive and I can fit it. I also want to know why the guarantee has only 8 months left on it, as we bought it this week. Hmph.

I’ve been sleeping a lot. I mean A Lot. Yesterday I woke at 2.30 pm, today I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed again. Woke at 12.30, so I was able to at least shower and dress before hubby’s afternoon ziz.

All the Xmas presents are ready to be wrapped, labelled and parcelled up, but I just don’t have the oomph to actually do it. I’m intending to do it in stages, it’s just too much altogether otherwise. Even so. Maybe tomorrow morning. Our main postal service has started collecting parcels from your house, so that will help a lot.

Finally found some jeans I like. John Lewis. Yeah. The thing is, because they’re brand spanking new, it feels odd to wear them round the house! so I haven’t yet. But I will I’m sure when I’m feeling a bit more Rah! Rah!

Decided I would crochet some face / wash cloths, so am awaiting some lovely variegated yarn (Rainbow Cotton from Hobbii). It’ll make a change from knitting and won’t take long. Am awaiting a grandson’s measurements from his mum before I can continue knitting the jumper I started. Apparently he’s had a growth spurt, and is all arms and legs. Not sure I want to knit something that (a) he may not choose to wear and (b) won’t fit him even if he does adopt it. Hence the crochet project idea.

Trying to Stay Positive!

The knitting is going ok. I can’t knit for as long – I was doing two hours each night, with the odd half hour or so each day if I had the time. Now I can manage about three quarters of an hour. That’s fine though. It means that a bobble hat is taking me several evenings, instead of one or two, but it’s ok. I’m loving the colour (coral) and the chunkiness of the yarn. Discovered I hadn’t bought enough yarn to start with, so had to order some more, and asked if they could match the dye lot. They did! so shout out to LoveCrafts.

Having a few issues finding jeans I like. I don’t find rigid, 100% cotton jeans comfortable. I have had a rule for about 25 years that I don’t wear anything uncomfortable, ever, including shoes, even for a party. So rigid jeans are out. I have a couple of pairs of Not Your Daughters Jeans, which are comfy, but ridiculously expensive. I also have a couple of pairs of comfy Boden jeans, which were discontinued when I bought them cheap. I’ve tried two different sizes and two different styles of Lands End jeans, and just don’t like them. Am awaiting delivery of some John Lewis jeans, two different sizes. If those don’t suit, I’ll just give up, I think, and keep my eyes open. Sigh.

The shopping has just been delivered. We use disinfectant wipes to clean the bag handles and every single item delivered.

I have been awaiting an invitation for my annual flu jab. Nothing. And we’re almost in November. I can’t find a way of contacting the surgery except for phoning, which takes 45 minutes each time just to get through to a person. Luckily I needed to order some repeat prescriptions, and there’s a little comment box, so I put a note in there. It worked! Flu jab tomorrow and a blood test a week on Monday. Probably for the thyroid, they do a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to ensure I’m on the right dose.

Last Christmas present due to be delivered today. Then I can start working out which boxes to use to send them all. Apparently Royal Mail are starting a pick-up service. Excellent news. No more queueing in the Post Office. You pre-pay the postage, which is already possible, then pay another 72p per parcel for the pick up, and book it. Five parcels maximum. Am going to investigate further to see when it actually starts.

The garden is a joy. Still waiting for the work to be done on trimming the leylandii, willow, lilac, winged spindle and the front lawn to be dug up and relaid.

This and That

Well, I’m delighted that I’m now able to knit again. I was knitting a boring stocking stitch jumper in DK yarn that kept just breaking randomly. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could just stop doing that and do something else. But then one of the daughters-in-law said she is really into bright coloured bobble hats, because she goes wild swimming (in lakes, in the winter -hopefully in a wetsuit!).

Ping! inside my head. I undid the 12″ or so of child’s jumper I’d done, found a lovely pattern for chunky yarn (it knits up So Quickly) and ordered some coral and turquoise yarns so I can knit two hats for her. Hooray!

Then I sorted out a new pattern for a child’s jumper for some Aran yarn I have – enough detail to keep me interested without being too difficult, but also not just boring old stocking stitch, which results in my losing the will to live.

I also have a pattern and the yarn for a lovely jumper for hubby, but am sticking to small projects for the moment to see how it goes.

The man has been today to mow and edge the lawn and do the weeding. Excellent job.

I’ve just finished reading “Us” by David Nicholls. It’s just been serialised on the BBC and was very good. Sad but delicately done and so lovely. The book has more detail, of course, and there are incidents not mentioned or done differently in the series, but oh I loved it. I do enjoy a good book.

On A Roll

Last weekend I painted the new back gate with Cuprinol Forest Green stuff. I think I posted photos.

This morning, as it’s dry and sunny, I gloss painted the door of the store cupboard we have, which opens on to the passage between our house and next door. It took an hour and a half. That involved washing both sides of the door with sugar soap (god it was filthy), sanding both sides down, and glossing both sides. I did my best to contain any mess, and forgot to take before and after photos. But to be honest I’m not sure any photos would have been that interesting. A dirty white door, then a clean white door. Yeah.

It takes six hours before you can do a second coat (I may or may not, I shall decide later), but maximum half an hour to actually do a coat. We shall see.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve just read the latest Cormoran Strike book (Robert Galbraith/J K Rowling). It’s called Troubled Blood, and I read it through again, immediately after finishing the first time. Then I re-read the other four books. The two main characters are so well drawn, and the plots are intriguing. It’s been televised here in the UK, at least the first four books have, and the actors are perfect for the parts. Very satisfying. Now I can’t wait for the next one.

Also in the middle of reading a Ruth Rendell (Inspector Wexford) mystery and I really like her style too – although there are some politically incorrect attitudes. Probably because of the time when she was writing – and she usually manages to imply disapproval of such attitudes anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Not even going to talk about the USA. So depressing and worrying.

Scams and Gardening

I get irrationally angry when we get a scam phone call, email or text. My instinct when we receive a call from an unknown number is simply not to answer, my reasoning being that if they’re bona fide they’ll leave a message.

However, there is some satisfaction to be derived from answering the call and questioning them. For example, yesterday received a call from a slightly stroppy woman with a strong Indian accent, saying she was calling from BT. Ok, I said, why are you calling me from BT? Because, she said, all the phone lines in the UK are owned by BT. That’s simply not true, said I. Who told you that? she said? it’s a known fact – and then hung up. Ha!

So today I checked, and BT own most of the lines in the UK, but not all. I will be armed with this information next time.

I have also received numerous calls from people purporting to be Microsoft (Ha! as if Microsoft phone you up!) telling me that there’s a problem with my computer. I let them carry on for a while, digging themselves a bigger and bigger metaphorical hole, until I advise them that I use Linux. That always, always confuses them. One guy was clearly looking at some sort of list, and finally said Oh, are you a technician? Yes. Yes I am. So he hung up.

Next time I get one I may just cut to the chase and ask if they’d like my bank details and then see what they say.

Emails and texts which are clearly scams I just angrily delete. Interestingly, it’s only my Virgin email address which gets scams, which makes me think there’s been a data breach somewhere along the line. I get plenty of junk mail on my other email addresses, but that’s just advertising, or a friend has had their email hacked and all their contacts sent a spurious message.

The sort of thing I know is a scam is, say, purporting to be from the TV licensing people, saying they can’t collect our money, but they’ve sent it to the wrong email address! and that is how I know they’re lying. Apart from the fact that I check the bank account every day so I know that the TV licensing people are actually getting our money.

Ho hum.

The man (it’s a different guy almost every time) is currently mowing the lawn. The gardening service we have is excellent apart from time keeping, although today he’s 45 minutes early. We won’t be asking them to do any more odd jobs, though. They’ve done the ones we asked them to do (several weeks ago now) and have done a good job, except that there is the old back gate and the ugly phormium sitting on our front garden waiting to be removed. Sigh. Here are some photos – old/new back gate, old/new side fence panel, old ugly phormium. You’ll be glad to know I decided the new manhole cover was just too boring to photograph and post!

But it took weeks to get them to actually come and do the work. I do think the guy in charge is honest and well meaning, and has had a lot of bad luck, and maybe he has taken on too much work. But if you’re self employed it must be difficult to know what counts as too much work, particularly if you have guys on your team who go to the pub and then have to self isolate for 14 days. Whose idea was it to open the pubs? madness.

I have the new plant ready to put in the hole where the phormium was, but am waiting until I have the opportunity, the energy, and the weather. Also we’re going to have the front lawn dug up and completely replaced, so I’m wondering if it might be better to leave it in its pot until after that.

Brain Fog

Well, that’s how it feels to me. There is quite a lot going on in there, but I can’t access it. It seems that there are things I need to remember, or remember to do, but there’s so much I can’t sort it out. A bit like my brain is scrambled. If I were to draw a picture of it right now, it would just be a big old scribble.

There is currently a guy “doing things” in the garden. He has replaced the disintegrated back gate, the broken man hole cover, flattened the trip-hazard flagstones in the back garden, and is currently mending a sort of fence panel at the other side of the house from the back gate.

Also digging up a huge, ugly, aggressive phormium. This nearly died a few years ago when we had a dreadful winter but has recovered. It pokes people in the eye when they come to the door though. Not nice.

I have already ordered a lovely soft pretty Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus because I’m so excited about having the space for a nice plant. I think it’s the same as this one, in the back garden. I hope so. It’s very similar anyway. The one we have looks gold or silver depending on the light. I cut it right down to the ground in spring and look how it grows!

So between making this guy endless cups of tea – well it is quite cold outside and it’s hard physical work – I have wrapped and got ready to post the Christmas and (January) birthday presents for the New Zealand granddaughter. Harder than it sounds, because part of that involved a jigsaw. Well, the jigsaw box was too big and heavy to include, because size as well as weight is restricted when you’re posting so far away. So I ordered a smaller gift box to put the jigsaw in, which worked, but then I found a piece of the jigsaw on the floor. Luckily (!) before I’d wrapped everything up. That meant I needed to actually do the jigsaw to make sure all the pieces were there. The recipient is going to be 5 years old and boy did I struggle with it. I expect she’s better than me at such things though. Hopefully.

Anyway, all the pieces are there, it’s all fitted in the box all wrapped up with a separate envelope with the jigsaw picture printed on an A4 piece of card, and the whole thing weighed less than 1.5kg. Excellent.

This sort of thing leaves me absolutely wrecked though. It’s such a simple job but it really takes it out of me. It’s done now. But no ironing today! the shopping was delivered and that’s me done for today.