January 2018

Another year. Almost through the first month, too. It’s cold but dry outside, although the wind last night was fearsome! kept me awake for hours!

Christmas – bit of a write off for me, was ill (again) with a similar thing to the November virus, but only for two weeks, this time, instead of four weeks, starting Christmas Eve. Missed two family parties. Bummer. Big old bummer. However, Hubby did a fabulous lunch on Christmas Day, and we’d been for breakfast at YD’s house, so managed that day, then spent the rest of the two weeks in bed most of the time. Voiceless and feeling dreadful.

Am better now, though, and almost up to knitting again. I did crochet an Olaf (from Frozen) for ESW, but my crochet skills are really not that good. However, it’s a toy. It’s meant to be lumpy. ESW won’t give a stuff how olaflumpy it is, or where the lumps are.

And it looks ok.

New knitting projects planned. Love it when there’s lots to do. Also almost through the pile of books I was given as gifts. The last one, which I’m reading now, is Simon Schama’s History of the Jews (second book) “Belonging”. Very interesting. Detailed, engaging, and, for me, with my Jewish heritage, fascinating. There was a time, hundreds of years ago, when Jewishness was regarded as having come through the father, not the mother. Mm.

Yesterday we went to a lovely independent bookshop in Coventry to donate some books (https://www.thebigcomfybookshop.co.uk/), then IKEA, got most of what we went for, only spent £25 (which is much less than we normally end up spending there!), then the council tip on the way home. Excellent morning, very productive. Result: very tidy house, a knackered me. But it’ll pass.

Just written to my lovely French friend, sent it off with some photos, then I had a lovely shower and washed my hair. Soon it’s going to be lunch time. My life is such a mad social whirl. Not. Thank goodness.

Not going to knitting group this morning, may go on Saturday. Hopefully. It’s great. Hot drinks, cake, biscuits, friendly people and all in an excellent yarn shop. Plenty of support for when things go wrong too.

Mixed Feelings

I do enjoy Christmas these days, but this particular one was sadder than usual. A good friend of my daughters (they went to school together), was killed on 15th December in a hit and run accident, near where he lived, in London. The police are searching for the culprit. The randomness, and the casual cruelty, of just driving off when it must be blindingly obvious you’ve just hit somebody in your car, is hard to stomach.

He spent a lot of time during his teenage years at our house. He was fun, extremely bright, multi-talented, excellent with my girls’ sibling rivalry, very good at defusing potentially awkward situations (just one example -when ED told him, in front of YD, that YD fancied him, he smiled, said Ooh how lovely. Thank you. And so YD stopped writhing with embarrassment and felt good about it).

In recent years his life and my daughters’ lives had taken different paths and we didn’t see so much of him. But we are all so sad. We loved him. He was good, and funny, and kind. But mixed in with the sadness is the awareness of how much worse this is for his immediate family. As a mother I can only begin to imagine how his mother must feel. The world is a lesser place without him. RIP Andy.

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Hubby cooked up a storm yesterday for our Christmas lunch. Absolutely fabulous meal. Mother came, and so did YD, her hubby, and baby ESW, who will be one year old in just over two weeks. Lovely.

Now that some of the knitting has been given to the recipients, here are a few photos of the projects.

Holiday and Knitting

Just back from a fabulous week at Center Parcs (Woburn). Hubby and I went on Friday, both daughters plus partners plus babies came for the weekend and went home on Monday, and then we stayed till last Friday. Absolutely excellent. The two children don’t see a lot of each other, as one (nearly 2) lives in Southampton, and the other (9 months old) near us in Solihull, but they were clearly very taken with each other. Lots of enthusiasm, lots of eye contact (and pointing from the baby), and it was just lovely.

Center Parcs involves a lot of walking, for me, because I am absolutely useless on a bike. Last time I rode a bike I broke a rib falling off. Not great. They do apparently hire out tricycles for adults (clumsy klutzes) like me, which might be a possibility if we go to Center Parcs again.

It’s lovely (though absolutely exhausting) walking in the forest – lots of grey squirrels, and even a hare, who clearly couldn’t care less that he was being watched closely, a lot. I have never been that close to a hare in my life. It was so exciting!

I ate far too much. YD made a fabulous Victoria sponge with jam filling – OMG to die for! and I’d taken a carrot cake, which was also pretty good. Chocolate, biscuits, just went for it. So now I’m being much more careful. Eating the same at mealtimes, just cutting right down on cake, biscuits and chocolate, before I turn into a big fat biffer.

We fetched Bertie The Cat from the cattery on the way home and she is just so happy to be back in her little domain. Friday she was very vocal and demanding, but settled down by the evening and is now happily purring away in one of her preferred warm spots. And is much happier to be cuddled than usual! not quite so busy and important . . .

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I have learned two new knitting techniques. Well, in reality, one is a crochet technique. It’s called Tunisian Crochet, or Afghan Crochet, and is a mixture of knitting and crochet done on one long hook. The fabric is quite firm and thick and is good for things like bags, outerwear, cushion covers, and I’m likely to start with something small like coffee coasters. Very pleased.

The second technique is for knitting in the round (tubes with no seams) and is called Magic Loop. I have been trying for years to master this one. I can’t handle double pointed needles, I’m all fingers and thumbs, so I knit in the round with two circular needles. It has occurred to me several times that this technique is very similar to Magic Loop. My younger daughter showed me how to do it (Magic Loop) on holiday, and I had a go and it actually clicked in my brain. So now I’m knitting the sleeves of a small baby jacket (Puerperium) in the round with Magic Loop. The advantage of this over two circular needles is that there are only two needle tips to worry about, instead of four. The current project is in stocking stitch, so no worries about how many stitches are on each half of the cable, but the next challenge will be Magic Loop with a pattern . . .

Also have some Erika Knight Gossypium cotton dk which is absolutely fabulous to knit with. I’m doing a Seafoam scarf for me in cream, on 5.5 mm needles to make it even bigger and looser. Loving it.

Almost all the Christmas shopping is done. I’ve always been a bit early doing such things, and start thinking seriously about any knitting I’m going to do for gifts in May. I start actually buying presents in September, so come December it’s just not so fraught. Hubby used to wait until 23rd/24th December, go into Birmingham, and do it all in one day. I just couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t. I even have a spreadsheet where birthday/Xmas presents are listed by recipient, going back to 2010, the idea being that I don’t duplicate year on year. A bit nerdy, I know, but I’m ok with that. I need order in my life, it feels calmer and easier.

I think that’s probably it for now!

Not great

The good news is, the cat is better. It took a month, and she had to be anaesthetised so they could wash out the wound properly, x-ray it to make sure there was nothing in there (there wasn’t) and take a swab to establish exactly what was going on in there. Result – bacteroides which needed a different antibiotic injection. Now she has no cone collar, she’s very, very happy, and back to normal. Even, dare I say it, slightly more affectionate than usual. That translates into allowing a slightly longer cuddle each day than the regulation ten seconds.

The bad news is, I’m not well at all. Some sort of chest infection or other. No voice for the last seventeen days, coughing like a bastard, very weak, achy, shaky, tired and weepy. I am trying to at least shower each day, but can’t always manage it. I’ve cancelled everything I was going to do, and am just pathetic. I’m taking 40mg Prednisone – last dose of the fourteen days on Sunday. Also 100 mg Doxycyline which I absolutely hate, but are the only thing that work, last dose of the seven days on Monday. I’m really, really hoping that by the middle of next week I’ll feel like a normal person. Or at least on the way there. Or at least the blood pressure and pulse rate will be down and more like normal.

My mother meanwhile has bashed and cut her shin badly, which is not good news at 83. Twenty-two steristrips and a large dressing. I can only contact her by text, and she says she’s doing fine, but of course she would say that because she is as brave as a lion. As soon as I’m better enough hubby will take me over and we will do whatever she needs us to do. In the interim, my sister, who lives locally but works full time in a very busy job, has had to manage it all. Damn and blast.

Then I was too ill go to to Logan’s first birthday party. Ex-hubby had offered to take me and YD (now heavily pregnant) down to Southampton for the day, and they did actually go, but I was just too poorly. Even Facetime/Skype was a bit difficult, what with me having no voice! but Logan is just a joy to us all.

Today I had to go back to bed at 10 am, woke at 1.30pm, and had a cursory shower/hair-wash. I can’t cope with the usual moisturising face/arms/legs at the moment, just too much.

Can’t knit. Can’t even pick up the guitar. Reading is something I can do in short bursts. Thank goodness I’ve done all the Xmas presents. Don’t even talk to me about the tree. That goes up the week before Christmas, and not a moment before.

I feel as if I’ve fallen off the small social world I do have. I’ve been out of the house to go to the doctors’ three times in the past two weeks, and am due again on Wednesday. But am not up to driving, so wonderful hubby has to take me. Phhhhh.

Oh. And the cat peed in the car before I got ill, so now my car stinks of cat pee, despite my feeble attempts to sort that out. And now I’m not well enough to do anything about it. I do have a plan, which involves a special valet service, but it’ll have to wait till I can drive at least.

YD has stopped work. Yesterday. Hooray! time for her to put her feet up.

Hopefully, my next blog will be a little bit more cheerful!

Nearly Christmas

We don’t do religion, but for us Christmas is a “beanfeast” in the middle of winter to cheer us up. We decorate a tree (along with Hannukah type lights!), we give presents, we eat a lot on 25th December and have much more sweet stuff than we normally would. Chocolate, mince pies, fruit cake with marzipan – love it!

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I bought a wreath “inner” from Hobbycraft, knitted a cover, and then knitted ivy leaves, holly leaves and mistletoe to cover it. A poinsettia at the top, a little knitted robin perching on the bottom. And it won first prize at The Shop! I’m so pleased!

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Feeling very, very tired. Heavy and leaden. Making sure I get a good sleep each afternoon. But I’ve tried to make sure I don’t have much to do each day. Tomorrow – ironing. Monday – nails Calgelled. Tuesday – shopping delivery. Wednesday – bake Raspberry Layer Bake (a sort of posh Bakewell Tart). Thursday – Christmas Day! And that’s it. Until 3rd January when we are having a Hootenanny with as many members of our extended families as can make it. Lovely.

So I wish you all Happy Holidays, whether you are humanist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, whatever. Enjoy.

Nearly there.

This week will be busy, busy, busy. All the presents are organised, wrapped, and under the tree, which we put up today. I even crocheted some snowflakes to put on it, which I’m very pleased with. Then forgot to put them on until I’d taken the photo. Oh well. They do look nice. For those of you who haven’t noticed, there is something particular on the top of our tree. Not an angel, not a fairy, but . . .  and yes, we are well aware of the significance!

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Also made some mince pies today. The pastry and the mincemeat are bought from the shop, but there’s just something about cutting out the shapes myself, plonking the mincemeat in, and cooking them in my oven means they do look and taste home-made. I can’t buy the ones already boxed in the shop, they all have butter in them.

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My back has recovered from this morning’s exertions, thankfully. Two paracetamol and three hours’ sleep.

As well as the tree and the mince pies, hubby was having extreme difficulty with his music system, which is complex and computerised. The latest CD he had wasn’t appearing in the list, and when it did appear, wouldn’t play. It’s taken hours and hours of frustration, tweaking, rebooting various parts of the system, uninstalling and reinstalling various apps on the tablet, and eventually, due to some combination of all those things, it finally worked. But we don’t know why. Grr. Luckily he contributes to a forum specifically about such things, so he’s going to mention it there. In the good old days, we just popped a CD in the drive. But the sound wasn’t as good. His music system is his pride and joy, and the effect that listening to music has on him is the same effect that knitting or crocheting has on me.

Busy tomorrow, busy Wednesday, baking Thursday, busy Friday. I shall be glad when it’s the weekend!