30th November 2010

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
More snow, and more expected. Still only a bit, really, compared, say, to the north of the UK. Very cold.
Vic took me to the GP today – although I was ready to drive myself – because of the weather. More antidepressants – I’ll be on them for the rest of my life, they’ve said – increased dose since July (40 mg a day now), so I have to see the doctor every month for her to check how I’m doing.
Big bag of prescriptions – various, includes Fexofenadine for my eyes, Seretide for my asthma, Gaviscon Advance for the acid reflux – all part of the maintenance and upkeep programme. I must be costing the NHS a fortune – all my prescriptions are free of charge, because I’m on thyroxine for the underactive thyroid. I also have to take Omeprazole for the acid reflux. But thank goodness for the NHS – imagine if I lived in America, for instance. All my medication and all my treatment is free of charge (eg cortisone injection on Friday). It’s just there, free, available, and wonderful.
Still haven’t dared start knitting yet. The wrist is much better, only the occasional stab of pain, so I’m giving it a few more days to settle. My back’s ok now though, thanks to Tramadol and a really good night’s sleep.
The cat is just delightful in the snow. She’s not keen on the rain, but snow she thinks is great fun, and larks about in it. Vic told me a couple of days ago that she was busy playing with/killing a small defenceless something-or-other, got distracted for a moment and ran over to the fence, and while she was there a magpie swooped down and stole the small defenceless something-or-other. Bertie couldn’t believe it. It must have been like a slapstick sketch. She ran back to where she’d left it, looked around on the lawn, looked around up above her, and if she could, I bet she’d have scratched her head. I wish I’d seen it. You gotta love her. You also gotta feel very sorry for the small defenceless thing. But that’s what cats do. At least she doesn’t bring them inside. Or eat them.
Vic is just doing the shepherd’s pie for dinner – yum. Tomorrow I’m going to make some bread rolls in the breadmaker and some trifle base (I just make a basic sponge mix) in the microwave. If it’s going at the bottom of a trifle, it doesn’t need to be browned, and it’s so quick in the microwave. Then both are going in the freezer. Thank heavens for modern technology.
We’ve never seen “The West Wing” and have heard so much good stuff about it, we’re renting the first series from Love Film. Disc 1 arrived today – exciting. We’re also just about to start Series 3 of The Sopranos. Spoiled for choice, really. And there’s some good stuff on the tv too – we’re enjoying Any Human Heart, we love Jimmy McGovern’s Accused, and we like the slightly odd presentation of Ancient Worlds too.
Wrapped nearly all the presents on Monday, and posted almost all the cards today. Just the neighbours’ cards to do, and the people I write a letter to. I hate photocopied “round robins” full of people’s children’s achievements – I do an individual letter to each person I don’t see, and there’s news in there, yes, but just a sentence on each daughter.
I have a French penfriend – hello to Réjane – and it’s my turn to write to her. We exchange letters about once a month or three weeks. I write to her in French, and the same letter in English. She replies with my letter in her language corrected, and her letter to me in English and French. That way we both get to improve our grasp of the other’s language. I went to stay with her and her husband Yves almost four years ago – they are just a lovely, lovely couple. It was wonderful.
Off to Brighton on Saturday – assuming we’re not snowed in, of course! It’s the youngest grandchild’s 2nd birthday on Monday, so his dad is having a party for him. Lovely. Brighton is fabulous. Love it, love the atmosphere, the shopping, the eating, it’s just fabulous. We also get to see two of the other grandchildren as well, which is always excellent fun. Can’t wait.
Well, that’s about it for now.

27th November 2010

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
Snow. Only a dusting, really. Quite pretty though, and the cat got excited and played sliding for a little while. Here’s a picture of our back garden. You can see on the patio the marks where the cat played sliding!

I’m very interested to see that people in the Ukraine, Germany and the USA have looked at this blog – amazing! How on earth did you find it? And is it of any interest? Goodness me. If I had any German or Ukrainian I’d say Hello in those languages, but hello to you all anyway.
Thought I’d talk about operating systems today. I only use Windows (XP) on my laptop upstairs, and the only reason I have for using Windows at all is my iPod and my knitting software (Design a Knit 7). If either or both of those worked in Linux, then I wouldn’t bother with Windows at all.
On my main computer, the one I use in the study, I use Linux Ubuntu. I built my own pc, and my husband’s. He uses Windows XP for his iPod and Linux Ubuntu for everything else, and his machine is dual boot, so he chooses each time he switches it on. By default his computer will go into Ubuntu, which I think is just wonderful.Not that it goes into Ubuntu by default, I just think Ubuntu is wonderful.
Everything is free, it’s safe, stable, secure, and no licenses or viruses to worry about. It comes with its own firewall, antivirus (not that it needs to really, but it is reassuring), email, internet browser, office suite (OpenOffice) and games. Anything you want a computer for really. I suppose if you played a lot of games, like Doom, that might be more complicated, but I do believe it’s possible to set it up on Linux somehow or other.
Knitting. Yes. Am a keen hand and machine knitter. I have two knitting machines, one is a Brother 891 (punchcard) with no ribber, but a garter carriage, the other is a Silver Reed 840 (electronic) with a ribber. Both standard gauge (that means they knit from 3 ply to double knitting – which I think is 8 ply or something in America). On the electronic one I use my laptop and Design a Knit 7 to design and knit garments – there is a special link between the laptop and the knitting machine to tell it what to do.
At the moment however I have been unable to hand knit for the last four weeks, because of my wonky wrist. I think it’s tenosynovitis (tennis elbow). It’s driving me crazy. Maybe in a few days when the wrist has settled down.
Next time I finish a garment or baby blanket, maybe I’ll put a photo up, depending how it goes, how I feel about it, and whether it’s good enough for global viewing.
Today my back is absolutely dreadful. I have an ice pack on it (the good old frozen wheat bag) as I sit, and I do think the Panadol plus (soluble paracetamol and caffeine) are helping a bit. Moving around a bit helps, and I used my collapsible shower stool so I didn’t need to bend awkwardly. I slipped a disc thirty-odd years ago, they removed said disc surgically seventeen years ago, and for about ten years it was great. Now it’s not so great, but no more surgery (it would destabilise my back), so it’s pain management.
The shopping is being delivered this afternoon, so I’m hoping Vic will be awake to help me put it away. Things at waist level are fine, anything that involves bending down is a bit of an issue. Maybe it’ll be better by then.
This afternoon I’m going to watch Ugly Betty, which I recorded on Wednesday night. Not Vic’s sort of thing really, but I love it. Love America Ferrara, she’s just fabulous.
Will stop now. Lunchtime.

26th November 2010

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
No snow yet. Very cold though, barely made it above 0° C all day.
Felt like five kinds of sh*t this morning, but a bit better after four hours’ sleep. Went to the GP, who injected cortisone into my bad wrist and advised me that the funny turn yesterday is a “vasovagal attack”, and nothing to worry about. When I looked that up on the internet, it seems to mean “fainting”. Honestly. Why didn’t he say “fainting” then? I have giddy turns all the damn time, but this was the worst ever.
I think the term “miserable old baggage” just about covers it, really, for me. Today anyhow. Poor Vic, I’m just so needy when I’m like this.
Went back to bed after the GP appointment at 11 am and just woke up at 2.45 pm. Ate two satsumas, a banana, and a goat yoghurt with jam (yum) and am waiting for Vic to wake up. He’s asleep on the sofa with the phone unplugged, the cat is asleep on her little radiator bed too. Domestic bliss.
Younger daughter had a meltdown this morning. I woke to the dulcet sounds of her shouting at nobody in the bathroom, then she bounced out of the front door, came back and went off like a bottle of pop. Threw things around, screamed, cried a bit, went out to work. I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything I could say really which would have helped. But have texted her since and she’s still a bit grumpy but not “losing the plot” as she put it. Will see how she is tonight.
Her life is stressful – she and her partner have moved back home, taking it week and week about at ours or his parents’, while they look for a house to buy. They have found one but it’s taking a little while. She’s also started a new job – a secondment with the same people but much more challenging – in a good way mostly – and her new boss is brilliant.
My wrist is still quite sore. I’m typing this with a frozen wheat bag on it to try and help. It was numb this morning after the jab but clearly needs to settle down a bit. Hmm. Suppose I’d better stop typing now really.

25th November 2010

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

Had my hair cut today by the wonderful James at Toni & Guy. He does such a good job. He listens to what you want, checks that your hair will actually do it, then does it. Can’t ask for more than that really. Vic had taken me into Solihull, I went to the library to drop off the books I’ve finished, to the Post Office to return the New Look stuff I didn’t want, got some birthday cards, hand cream, had the hairdo, then final, and finally, presents from John Lewis. Excellent. But I felt very odd in John Lewis. Sort of giddy and disconnected, faint even. Strange.
Vic picked me up, took me home, where I ate lunch, and slept this afternoon. GP tomorrow, ostensibly for wrist/arm problems. If there’s time will mention faintness / giddiness, otherwise am back at GP on Tuesday for the antidepressants and will mention it then.
p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
Expecting snow tonight. An inch or so – not much I guess depending on where you live, but it’s a pain nevertheless. Cold, wet, dangerous, but pretty if you’re able to stay inside and watch the cat prancing about in it.
Not much else going on really. Daughter home, making a snack before she goes out to bodybalance or something. Hubby listening to Bob Dylan. All is well.


23rd November 2010

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
Went to see Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 today. Loved it. Very scary, very close to the book, very well done. It makes me want to read all the books again, but I already have a pile of books five deep! Never mind, I can read whatever I like in whatever order I like, can’t I.
On Sunday night I went to bed at 9 pm, read for about 15 minutes, and then slept until Vic woke me up – at ten to two in the afternoon. It started to get dark about an hour after I got up. Blimey. Must remember to tell the doctor how much I’m sleeping – not that there’s a fat lot they can do about it, but I think the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) ask my GP how I am when they review my Incapacity Benefit.
Older daughter is going to be 30 next year and is organising a joint party with her uncle, who shares her birthday. He’s going to be 60! oh my goodness, when did we get old? Should be fun though, particularly as he’s from a big family, numbering 62 at the last count, including his siblings, their partners, their children and grandchildren and his mum, who’s 90, sprightly, and sharp as a tack. Then there’s my family, and Vic’s sons too. They’ve booked the venue, sent out the invitations and all is going to plan. Excellent.
Can’t believe the weather forecast includes snow already! But there you go. At least I don’t have to get up and dig the car out for work. Can’t actually drive at the moment, wonky wrist, so Vic is having to ferry me everywhere. Well, I say everwhere, he drove to the cinema this morning and has said he’ll take me for my hairdo on Thursday,and I’ll catch the bus home. Then on Friday I’m seeing the GP who can actually administer the steroid injections, should he think I need one. But it has been four weeks I’ve been having problems. Can’t knit, drive, pick up a kettle, blah blah blah. Pathetic. Have been icing it, resting it, wearing that very attractive (!) tubigrip to support it, and taking various painkillers, ranging from Paracetamol (useless) through Cocodamol (useless) to Tramadol (useless). So am rather fed up with it now, and am halfway up the back of a cable sleeveless pullover for Vic I would really like to be getting on with.
Tomorrow am planning to make a “raspberry layer bake” – it’s a posh Bakewell tart – for Christmas. Shortcrust pastry defrosting (why would I make pastry from scratch when I can just get it – dairy-free – from the shop?) and all ingredients ready.
While sorting out said ingredients I discovered that the bread flour was full of ergot. Eughhhhhh! Luckily I keep the different sorts of flour in sealed tupperware-type containers, so it hadn’t infected all the dry goods (which did actually happen to me once) in the cupboard. No home made bread rolls tomorrow then. It only went out of date in August, so that’s quite fast I would have thought for ergot to sort of magically appear. Must keep my eye on that in future.
And on that happy note, I’ll end for today.

Sunday 21st November.

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

Took the children back home today after they’d stayed overnight. They are just a delight, both of them. Affectionate, fun, they are just a joy to be around. Bertie the cat loves them and is very happy to be approached and stroked immediately by them, which is not the case with most other people. She also settles down by their toys, waiting for them to come and play.
Unfortunately, though, the little one was fully dressed, sitting on the stairs, waiting for Grandad to “come back from his walk” at 2.30 this morning, when my younger daughter (26) and her chappie came home, three parts to the wind, from a night out. However, thanks to the resources of the daughter, all was resolved, even though it meant her standing on the bunk ladder, reading a book (by torchlight) in whispers, bladdered. Not quite the perfect end to the perfect evening. New plan for next time they stay . . . leave our bedroom door open! “Grandad” does go for a walk every morning, but not until about 6 am.
Came home from dropping them off and both hubby and I had an afternoon sleep. Both retired, neither of us exactly in the first flush of youth, so it’s an essential rather than a luxury. I have always needed a lot of sleep, particularly since my first baby, who fed every two hours all day and all night for a very long time indeed.
So retirement suits me well, even though, or even especially because, it’s medical retirement. I’ve been at home for eight years now, and for two years off sick from work before that. Now I can sleep whenever I need to, and it’s wonderful. Each day I try to do something, even if it’s something very small, like, say, walk round the garden, or slightly bigger, like, say, make a cake. Just so I have achieved something, however trivial.
Cold, grey and wet today. But then it is November.
I’m very tired – no change there then. But have no plans until Thursday this week when it’s hairdo day. Part of my upkeep and maintenance programme, which includes hairdo, pedicure, and visits to the hospital doctor, dentist, osteopath and chiropodist – all absolutely vital. Without all of them, regularly, I would disappear into a little puddle.

19th November 2010.

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }
We’re on our third watch through of the Sopranos. Series two, three episodes last night. If you’re not a Sopranos fan, skip the next paragraph.

Poisonous witches Livia and Janice/Parvati deserve each other, they really do. Spoilt, clever, manipulative, mouthy Meadow (if she were my daughter, things would be very different) contrasts with sweet (so far) but dim, AJ. Tony is clearly not the boss at his house, with his blood family, but is definitely capo di famiglia. Strange but true.

This morning Waitrose delivered the shopping, hubby and I put it away while Bertie the cat (have I mentioned her?) pottered about outside getting cold wet paws, pretending to be brave.

Not much else to report really. Wrote some more Christmas cards. Vic is currently cooking our dinner (a korma curry). He does all the cooking, I do all the baking. This afternoon I made chocolate brownies (dairy free of course) because we have two grandchildren coming to stay this weekend. Yay!

next exciting instalment . . .

Should have mentioned – am humanist. No religion, no thank you. Not Christmas, it’s the winter equinox. Jesus was an interesting bloke, but his mum was a virgin? gimme a break. Rose from the dead? again, what??

In my head, religion is what men invented to explain phenomena they couldn’t explain any other way (oh, and also to keep women in their place). Now we know better, we have evidence to prove it. Don’t get me started – maybe another blog on this subject.

Today – what did I do? went into Solihull with husband (can’t drive at the moment, wonky wrist), failed to return stuff to New Look store because I paid with Paypal, but did manage to do everything else. Then came home and phoned H&M about returning the New Look stuff. How confused (aka stupid) can one get? But it’s all sorted out now.

Baked potato for tea with dairy free margarine (am cow’s milk intolerant), salt and pepper. Yum.  Goat yoghurt with jam for pudding. Yum yum.

Just finished Jodi Picoult’s “House Rules” – excellent, even if denouement on last two pages is stretching things a bit. Now started another Penny Vincenzi saga. Not sure how I’m feeling about this one, but I’m warming to it I think.

Nearly time for The Archers – bye for now.

The beginning . . .

p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

Thought I’d start a blog, not sure why really, but here goes.
Some stuff about me: let’s start with quirks.
  1. Read obsessively. Two books a week usually, but not always.
  2. Knit like a crazy woman when I can, by hand and on one of my two machines.
  3. Have to have a plan A and at least a plan B. For everything.
  4. Days of the week have colours (Monday – red, Tuesday – blue, Wednesday – orange, Thursday – purple, Friday – black, Saturday – green, Sunday – yellow).
  5. Months of the year have colours/moods too, but less easily defined in words.
  6. Love numbers and play with them – I made a Fibonacci spreadsheet just for fun.
  7. Lists (like this one). Many are spreadsheets – addresses, birthdays, Christmas card/presents, some are “things to do”.
  8. I score highly on the autism spectrum on-line tests – 38 on the 
    Simon Baron-Cohen one.
Blimey, I sound really odd. So here’s some normal stuff:
Two grown up daughters, very happy second marriage. Five step-grandchildren – a joy. Long-term health problems and difficulty with some aspects of daily life. I have fluent French, conversational Italian and basic holiday Spanish. Build/fix computers for family and friends.
That’s about it for now.