New Skill

We have a spaghetti tangle of various wires behind the hifi, which looks awful. So we decided to do something about it. Most of the wires can be simply replaced with shorter ones (hdmi, power, ethernet), but two of the ethernet/network cables come from another room on the other side of the house. One is a flat ethernet cable, one is a standard round one. The standard one wasn’t particularly well fixed to its plug, and the wire sheath was a bit short, exposing the inner wires.

So I decided to replace the ethernet RJ45 plug.

Well. What a to-do.

Luckily, there is tinterweb and YouTube, which helped enormously.

Inside each ethernet wire, whether it’s “Cat 5e” or “Cat 6”, are eight very small wires, twisted into four pairs. All different colours. They have to go into the tiny little RJ45 plug in the right order. But they are not twisted in the right colour order. Why not? you might well ask, but I have no idea. And of course the twisting leaves the tiny little wires curly, so they have to be straightened out, then sort of wangled into a flat row.

Long story short, I found the best way to manage it, having practised (a lot) on a spare standard Cat 5e cable, is the magic “pass-through” RJ45 plug. That means that you can leave plenty of length of stripped wires, push them all the way through, and then check they’re in the right order before you crimp them. Saves a lot of trouble, and many plugs. Also, once you’ve crimped and trimmed them, you can be more sure that it will all work. There are apparently crimpers which do the trimming, but my crimpers didn’t, so I just used a kitchen knife and sharpened it afterwards.

You can buy network cable testers and I guess it would be worth it if you’re going to do a lot of this. I’m not, just a couple here or there, so I tested mine on our laptop, plugging the spare cable, with new plugs on both ends, into the laptop and a switch box. Oh my, the glee when it worked!

So now I’m awaiting short HDMI cables, and we have a plan for the power wires, so it should start to look a lot better soon.

And here, to lighten things up a bit, is a photo of our lovely black elder with the pink flowers. It stinks, though, of tom cat. I don’t remember it being smelly in years past, so I’m assuming it’s actually a tom cat. Am currently spraying a diluted solution of white vinegar, each evening, round the base of the plant, and on the patio flags nearby. Today our cat won’t go out. I really hope it’s not because of the vinegar!

Black elder in flower.

Had a bit of a day so far .

The first thing was that my computer monitor didn’t work. I changed the cable. No joy. Luckily, because I’m such a nerdy type, I do actually have a spare monitor (old, second hand, cheap but works) for when I fix other people’s computers. That works fine. Excellent. New monitor arriving tomorrow.

Then discovered that both the wildlife cameras are telling me there’s either no sd card, or that the sd card is full. Hmph. Unlikely that both the cameras (different makes) would be playing up, so ordered some new sd cards. Yesterday in the garden hubby managed to film our local friendly woodpecker, so I really hoped the camera traps would have caught it. Nope. Nor the pair of beautiful goldfinches who were clearly househunting. That’s what made me check the cameras. Sigh.

Still awaiting the gardener. Should be here within the next hour or so. I hope so, the lawn is more like a meadow now, only without the pretty flowers. The cat is loving it. She caught, but then lost, a mouse yesterday. Only doing her cat thing, but it’s not nice to see.

Managed to actually shower AND wash my hair this morning, which is always a bit of a mission because of the stupid wonky hands, so drying it is a bit fraught.

Also ordered new vest tops. Not sure what size I’ll need so ordered both sizes and will send back the ones that don’t fit right. One is coral, one is bright blue. Sort of cobalt blue. Yeah.

The good, the bad, and . . .

A long time ago, about 20 years, I would guess, I went to our local supermarket to pick up some bits. I was feeling like five kinds of sh*t, and probably looked it too, although I was past caring.

Well. The product I wanted to get to (bacon, I think), was behind a trolley parked sideways with a small girl – I’d say about 3 years old? – sitting in it, dancing about and generally making sure everybody could see how cute she was. I was not in the mood, really not, so I ignored her.

She did not like that. She did not. So she leant towards me, and said, “You’re UGLY”. Her parents were absolutely mortified, as well they should be. They apologised profusely, and I accepted the apology with “oh it’s ok”. But it wasn’t ok. I was hurt, and still feel it now. How did that child learn that “ugly” was an insult? why did she choose to use it then? she was very small, I know, but neither of mine would ever have deliberately insulted a total stranger. Each other, yes, but total strangers? nope! They were not perfect, what child or what adult is, but really.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Look how long our grass has grown! desperate for the gardener now!

I’ve been very low lately, and sleeping way too much. I had a telephone appointment with a doctor, who arranged a face-to-face appointment at my local surgery, and that doctor (she’s the one I used to see before lockdown) has increased my anti-depressants. I have to go back in a month to see how that is going.

I feel slightly better straight away, knowing something constructive is happening. It felt like a long tunnel with no light at the end, but that feeling is fading.

Still sleeping too much, but apparently it can take about seven days for an increase in jolly drops to work. So that’s ok then.

Managed to go to the local shop today and get some bits and bobs. Yesterday I made carrot cake, and I was halfway through when I discovered that my self raising flour was three months out of date. So that went straight in the bin, and I used plain flour with extra baking powder. It seems to have worked ok, but both the cakes are in the freezer as they are for my daughter’s 40th birthday barbecue in July. She loves my carrot cake. So we won’t actually know until we cut into them whether they’re ok or not! love a bit of baking suspense . . . might need ice cream or glace icing, will see how we go.

Have ordered some full face visors. There is of course a bewildering array, and because I wear glasses I need ones with a head strap. I find the masks stifling and my glasses steam up.

Ironing is awaiting my attention, but having been to the shop today, and baking yesterday, it will need to wait until tomorrow.

And I’m wearing a brand new top today, from Fat Face. Sage green with little leaves embroidered on it. And the New Zealand quartz pendant from YD. Yeah. Little things.

Windows 10. Hate it.

Well now. The printer decided it hates me again yesterday, when I really needed it. This is happening way too often, and I had promised myself that next time it happened I would damn well format the hard drive, wipe everything, and install Linux Ubuntu. So I have. I back up regularly, and always immediately before such a major step. My passwords I keep on a separate stick so I can access the network, otherwise I’d be stymied and going round in circles.

Honestly. The problem was not the printer, but Windows. One time it was Kaspersky protecting me from my own printer (sigh) but Ubuntu just picked up the printer, installed the driver really fast, and printed! that is exactly what I need.

On the other hand, this is Ubuntu 20.04, and I have had problems getting my address book to import and Google calendar to work. Finally, today, I installed Evolution, and everything just worked. So I’ve backed up Evolution to a tar.gz file so I can go back to where I am now if I need to. Phew.

Also, there don’t seem to be any screensavers. Now, that is not a practical problem. Screensavers were invented to stop the old green ASCII characters burning into the old CRT screens, and that just doesn’t happen any more with new technology. But they are pretty! also, have had to install a nicer wallpaper changer, as the ones that come with the package are just a bit boring, and don’t change regularly. I guess that when you install Ubuntu you just need the basics, but it would be nice to have access to some bells and whistles. They’ve done it before. It just seems to be this new package. Ah well.

And now I’m off to play Pysolfc, which is a huge collection of card games and Mahjongg games. Yeah. Need to sort out themes, favourites, etc.

I am SO rock’n’roll.

Lucky!

Just back from a trip to Solihull (5 minutes away) to the opticians. My glasses, which are a bit odd because of my double vision, had a wobbly leg (arm?). I’d been using lanyards for my distance glasses, so that they are always available when I need to put on my reading or my computer glasses. However, the legs (arms?) are quite thin, and the lenses are very thick at the edge, so I guess they’re a bit heavy for that. The wobbliness was because I’d managed to twist them somehow. It was touch and go whether or not they could fix them at the shop, or whether they’d have to pop my lenses into new (identical) frames, which would cost me £60. Waaaah!

So I was despatched to do something else, anything else, for half an hour, in the rain, while they decided what to do. I can barely see without my glasses, so had taken my computer glasses. But of course I was masked up too, so what with one thing and another, it was a fraught half hour. Which was mitigated by going to Hotel Chocolat and spending over £40 on chocolate. Yep. On chocolate. Some dairy free for me and some for hubby. Then I went to Pret a Manger and was able to sit inside, drinking apple juice and eating a dairy free chocolate fudge bar. That definitely helped.

When I went back to the opticians, the laboratory had had a go, and they’d managed to fix the old frames. When I say “old”, I’ve had them about two months. So not actually old, really. Very relieved. And no more lanyards for my glasses. There is a downside, but the upside is I can probably manage dangly earrings again, at least when I’m not wearing a mask.

My specs. You can see at the edge how thick the lenses are (1cm).

Some improvement

Went to the osteopath today for an extra appointment to sort out my recalcitrant back. She did. It’s much looser now and a lot less painful. Still on ice/hot packs/painkillers, but much easier. I love my osteopath. In a platonic way, of course.

Second Covid vaccination on Thursday. Hooray! but it does mean I’ve had to postpone for four weeks my ultrasound scan/x-ray/guided steroid injection. Hey ho. But although the pain is constant, I do think that being vaccinated against Covid is more important.

We had thunder again today. I didn’t notice any lightning, and the cat took no notice whatsoever, but WTF?

My new specs are in need of repair. I phoned the optician and I can just pop there – I’ll have to wait at the door while they fix them. I wonder if it’s to do with the specs lanyard I’ve been wearing. I have to change from reading glasses to distance glasses a lot, but I do think that specs are more vulnerable on a lanyard. Mm. Change of plan. We shall see how I manage without a lanyard.

Another small change of plan involves the vitamins and other supplements I’ve been taking. The orthopaedic surgeon suggested Omega 3, garlic, turmeric and ginger. Well, I feel sick with the Omega 3, don’t want to smell of garlic (although the packaging assures you that you won’t, I did), and the turmeric and ginger give me indigestion. I’ve been taking the last two , along with vitamins A, B complex, C and D, for three weeks, and feeling so much worse. I’ve tried taking them at different times of day, with/without food, and decided today “bugger it”. So I’m back to my multi-vitamin tablet once a day and we shall see. I really don’t need anything to make me feel worse. I really don’t.

New jeans from The Gap have arrived. They’re black, “bootcut” style and high-rise/waisted and I Love Them. They’re washed and ready for hemming. Everything is always too long for me (at least trousers are always too long). I need to take care though because I don’t want them to shrink any more once I’ve hemmed them. I’ll need to be careful how I wash them. Cool wash, definitely. I love jeans, even though I’m 66. They just suit me with a t-shirt or tunic top, and my other pairs (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and Boden discontinued style) are starting to disintegrate. I might even see if I can order some more pairs, only blue. Yeah.

Hubby and I have just eaten our dinner. He had fried eggs and baked beans on toast. I had scrambled eggs on toast. Yum. Now I’m drinking my tea while he drinks his coffee and listens to his hi-fi. Life is good.

Bits and Bobs

Well, sadly, all my seedlings died. That is normal for me though. I’m just not great at seeds. I’m better with small plants, and have just planted two sage and one thyme plants in the garden, and the mint in a pot. Mint is not allowed in the garden. It’s such a thug. When it really gets going even in the pot it tries to root in any pots next to it. But I do love it, and the smell.

The old doorbell battery finally stopped working, so I have fitted the new one. I managed to sync it with the ringer – very pleased about that – and have fitted the new pusher thing to the front door. Little things do help me feel better about stuff.

My back is improving but slowly. Went to the hospital today for nerve conduction tests. Unpleasant. It turns out it’s not carpal tunnel syndrome, but cubital tunnel syndrome, which I think is basically nerves in the elbow being crunched. Hmm. Will see if the information gets to the consultant before I have the ultrasound/x-ray/steroid injection next week, and then it’s the week after that I see him. I’m relieved they found something, because I always feel such a fraud. Imposter syndrome, I think they call it. I certainly felt like that at work, always terrified somebody was going to discover I was crap at everything. I wasn’t actually crap at everything, though. Just felt like it.

Hubby’s new hi-fi was fitted yesterday. It all went well and he is very, very happy. The only problem was a technical one, and didn’t affect his music playing. We had access to the wireless network in the lounge, but no wired network in the study. It took me till this morning to work it out, and one of the ethernet cables wasn’t plugged in at all. Not just not where it should be, but not at all. Anyway, once I thought it through, and found it, we had access to the internet, the network, the lot. Hooray. Satisfying, if frustrating yesterday.

So now we have a gardener who comes fortnightly, a cleaner who also comes fortnightly, and a window cleaner who comes every two months. All jobs we are just not physically able to do any more, and I have actually been urging hubby to get a cleaner and a window cleaner for some years. The gardening was my domain, so I didn’t need to persuade anybody! All of them do a wonderful, wonderful job.

Today at about 1 pm, we had thunder and lightning. Only one clap/flash, but boy it was loud! in May!

The cat is currently trying to herd me into the lounge, where she clearly thinks I ought to be at this time of night (6 pm).

Not a terribly good photo of me wearing the top some of the grandchildren gave me for my birthday. This is before my post-lockdown visit to the hairdresser . . .

Things are happening!

The oven has continued to work ok, so that’s a mystery.

The decorator has been and we should get the quote shortly. All starting to fall into place now.

I have an appointment for a nerve conduction test, and another appointment for ultrasound and x-ray scans of my hand, when they will also do a steroid injection into my thumb. Then I get to see the consultant the following week to decide what to do (joint fusion or joint replacement).

Today my back is dreadful. I’ve had back problems for over 40 years, surgery 28 years ago which helped, but am all bent over to one side. It’s improved from this morning, when I was bent over sideways and frontways as well! still, painkillers, hot/cold packs, not doing anything for more than 20 minutes, and tomorrow it should be better. If not, I’ll try and get to the osteopath this week.

Part of the “not doing anything for more than 20 minutes” included a potter round the garden, in the rain. Took a few pictures because the colours cheer me up so much! and made me feel better even though I couldn’t manage a shower this morning. (I’ll deffo have one tomorrow, though!)