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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.