June

Well. Where to start.

Today would have been my Dad’s birthday so a bit nostalgic for me. At his barmitzvah he had strawberries, so my mother always tried to make sure there were strawberries for his birthday. Not so easy years ago.

Yesterday we returned from a long weekend at Center Parcs, with ED, her hubby and their little boy. He gets travel sick, and we all travelled from our separate homes by car on Friday, the hottest day of the year so far. Our air conditioning is fine, but theirs wasn’t working, so LCS ended up with heat exhaustion. A fair amount of vomming, lots of lying around being pale, and very difficult to get him to drink. By Sunday, however, he had perked up dramatically, and was much better. So Friday was much too hot. Saturday it rained all day. Sunday it was cooler and sunnier until the evening. I struggled with all the walking (really, really can’t ride a bike!) and the IBS, but we had a lovely weekend nevertheless. It’s great to see them.

Just fetched the cat from the boarding kennels. All was going swimmingly, despite the howling (her not me) until I took a wrong turn and missed the motorway. That’s actually ok because she hates the motorway worse than almost anything else, until I smelt a suspicious smell. Yup. She’d pooped. Then the yowling ratched up several notches, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it until we got home. Except for opening the car windows wide. And luckily it was all neat and contained within the towel/puppy pads in the carrier for just such an occurrence. Yeah.

So the cat is happy now, pottering in and out of the house/garden. I’m a bit fraught but not too bad. Hubby has popped to Marks and Spencers to get the stuff we need.

Today my job was fetching the cat. Done that. Knackered now! Tomorrow is sorting out the new router day. Last week we had major problems with the internet, some of which was the providers’ fault, some of which wasn’t. I had set the provided router up as a modem, and we have a separate router in the lounge, which improves the signal no end. But when I cut out the router, and made the old router back into a modem, it all worked. Sigh. So now we have a new router which I need to install. Yeah.

The washing is drying nicely on the line – love it when it’s dried outside. It just smells so nice!

Happy 2022 (hopefully)

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.

Progress, sort of

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.

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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.

Not terribly pretty, but yum!

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.

And here is a photo of our cat. Just because.

And a very Happy New Year to you all.

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.

Technology! pah!

Spent yesterday afternoon after my siesta and most of today failing to erase an old Dell Dimension and install Linux on it. In the end I just erased it. Formatting doesn’t do it properly, it just hides the data, and that’s not what you want when you’re Freecycling an old computer. I did have another go at installing Linux after I’d nuked the hard drive, but no luck.

Still, the people on Freecycle who come and collect old computers are very likely to have a stash of old computer parts including old hard drives, so it’ll all be fine. I certainly have boxes of bits. We have a desktop computer each, a tablet each, one Apple, one Android, two laptops (one running Windows 7 and the other Windows XP), and a variety of wires, plugs, mice (mouses?) and so on.

We’ve booked an appointment to go to the tip (recycling centre is the posh name for it) in a couple of weeks. You are allowed 15 minutes once a week, and must be a resident of the Borough. So if nobody wants this old Dell it’ll end up there.

The desperate houseplant I potted on is much happier now. Managed to get some potting compost delivered, and have bought a storage box thingamajig to store it in. It can live in the shed, but then needs schlepping up and down the garden each time it’s needed. The storage box sits just behind the house and is much more convenient. Hubby had to assemble it though. When I finally manage to get some horticultural grit (of which there seems to be a national dearth) that can live in there too.

The seeds I planted a week ago (M&S “little garden”, kindly given to me), have actually started to grow! Three radishes! They are the reason I needed the potting compost, because the time will come when they need to be potted on. It’s all very clever. The seeds are in a sort of tiny little “mat” thing – about six per mat. Then there’s a pellet of dried compost which expands magically upon addition of 50ml water, and the little pots seem to be made of coir, which I think means the roots will grow through them. So that should mean I don’t need to handle the seedlings at all. I’m not usually very good with seeds/seedlings. They usually just die on me. So I am going to be extra vigilant and see what happens.

I have added better labels – these are cardboard and a bit soggy. When a few more seeds start to show their little heads I’ll post better photos.

Mother’s Day here in the UK was Sunday 14th March. One daughter sent me beautiful flowers, the other fabulous chocolates. I’m so lucky! both are excellent. Flowers still in bloom, some chocolates still to be eaten.

Knitting and crochet are occasional things now, what with the pain in my hands. I need to think about talking to the doctor and getting a referral to a consultant. Hubby has requested a special teacosy to fit his special tea infuser. Just need to discuss with him the detailed requirements. Shouldn’t take too long. It’ll need to be knitted, rather than crocheted, and that takes longer, but it’s only a small item. Just had the discussion. He wants a tube with a closed top, no hole for the handle. Excellent. Probably do it in the round, so no seams. Found some Aran West Yorkshire Spinners yarn which should do the job. Yeah.

I think that’s about it for today. Cheers for stopping by!

what a morning

Well. The printer, once again, decided it hates me. I bought the postage for a birthday card to New Zealand online, and it wouldn’t print it. But before that, I went to weigh the card and the battery in the scales had run out of juice. Changing the battery requires a very particular screwdriver and a very particular sort of battery. Luckily I did have both of those, so changing the battery wasn’t too bad.

However I have spent almost all morning trying to get the blasted printer to work. Apart from removing the printer from the computer, reinstalling, switching everything off and back on again countless times, I’ve rolled back the last Windows update, growled and harrumphed a lot (because that always helps with recalcitrant hardware and software), and eventually the printer spat out eight copies of something else, and one copy of the postage labels. I think that last thing was by accident. But anyway, it means the birthday card can actually be posted.

Success of a sort I guess, but it’s only a truce. I have no idea what caused, or solved, the problem. It could be any or all of the things I tried. We hardly use the wretched thing now but when we need it to work it’s such a damn nuisance when it doesn’t.

Ever since I started working with IT, which is well over 30 years ago now, printers have been the bane of my life. Their peculiar ways have always been a mystery to me. How can the computer say “can’t find printer” when it’s THERE?!

Other than that, a new POTUS has been sworn in, and calm seems to have been restored, along with sensible health and financial measures to help deal with Covid . The lying, bullying, rude, spoilt loser is off to Florida but is threatening to be back somehow or other. Ok. I thought Florida was where people his age go to retire. One can but hope. I would just love to know what his letter to the new POTUS said!

The birds in our garden are going bonkers today. It’s sunny and beautiful, but very cold, so I’m guessing they need their peanuts and seeds. One particular blue-tit is repeatedly picking up a dry leaf, flying across the garden with it, then dropping it. On to the ground. I’m thinking that Mrs Blue-tit is saying “Not dry leaves, you idiot, I said not dry leaves!” We also get flocks of long-tailed tits. They are just so pretty!

The jumper I finished for LCS is on its way back to me for mending. He loves it, and wears it a lot, and apparently he has been seen picking at it. Hey ho. Luckily I kept the bits of yarn left over for just such an eventuality.

Knitting is going slowly, but ok. Received some lovely 4ply cotton craft yarn – might crochet a dishcloth or two. Another day though. Today has been too fraught.

Hubby decided that we don’t need almost 1,000 cds in the lounge, we need the room for books. Which is true, as he prefers his books printed. I prefer mine on Kindle as books are difficult to manage with my stupid hands. However, we don’t actually play the cds, they’re all copied on to the music streamer. We have to keep them, though, it’s illegal to have the music without the original media.

So. After some discussion, I managed to persuade him that shelves on the ends of our desks would look awful, and that they would look much better next to the matching shelves in one of the spare bedrooms. It’s taken a good week or so, partly because getting the shelves and brackets etc isn’t that easy in lock-down, and partly because it’s quite a big job. Anyway, despite the fact that we both prefer to get a job done, we did it between us gradually, and now we have more space for books yet to be bought (sigh), the cds are in the house but not too obtrusive, and the re-organisation is done. Pictures would be a bit boring I think.

Frustration

Well, the new toaster and iron have turned up and are excellent. Hairdryer, however, has not, yet.

On Monday hubby couldn’t access his streaming service, all of a sudden, through the app he uses to listen to music. We both spent a fraught day trying to sort it out, and in the process we re-set his music player to factory settings.

That evening our cable supplier announced via its website that there was a local problem, so we weren’t surprised that we couldn’t access the cable box.

It took them until late Wednesday night to fix it and guess what? we still couldn’t access our cable box. I checked it on the internet and they said, after checking remotely, Oh it’s your box.

I spent 49 minutes this morning on hold waiting to talk to a guy who assured me it wasn’t the box. He talked to me like I’m an idiot, so I womansplained that I actually worked in tech support, and had already been through rebooting, checking connections, changing cables, blah blah blah.

He assured me nonetheless it wasn’t the box.

I eventually, by dint of faffing about with cables which are difficult to see upside down and close to a wall, even with a torch, then more faffing about inside the configuration program through which we’d reset everything (GAAAAAGH) , made it all work. It works a bit differently from before, but we can not only see but hear the blu-ray player, the TV directly, and through the cable box.

Meanwhile, hubby had contacted his hifi manufacturers, who advised him that they had just issued a new version of the software which runs his music, and lo and behold, his streaming service was magically back. 🙄. I remained calm, but suggested that next time his damn software goes wrong, we wait a day or two before doing ANYTHING.

First World problems, I do know. Yeah.

On the upside, I made some marvellous mince pies. And the Post Office/Royal Mail/whatever they’re called collected the five parcels I’d had terrible trouble arranging yesterday. Only one more parcel to arrange, and I’m looking forward to wrapping and sending that one.

Home Made (Ish) Mince Pies. (bought pastry, bought filling!)

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.

Still working . . .

Well, the printer fell off the network once, but I think that’s sorted. It hasn’t fallen off again. I had to re-pair the HomePlugs it’s using. I guess its little electronic brain recognised that it was connecting to a “new” network, or at least a new router. Anyway, it’s all still working. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile I’ve again changed my painkiller routine as I wasn’t coping with the pain. Two Co-codamol (30/500) in the morning, two at about 5 pm, and then two Paracetamol at bedtime. Seems to help.

I was even able to do a bit of knitting last night, until the cable fell off the end of the needle, then all the stitches fell off. So I have picked them all up, fixed a new cable, and ordered some new interchangeable bamboo needles (Hiya Hiya instead of Knit Pro). I didn’t order a set, just sizes 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm, with four different lengths of cable.

Planning to do a bit of clearing up in the garden tomorrow. The hardy geraniums in the front have gone over, so I’ll cut them back to the ground. Some bluebell detritus gone yellow. And probably cut the poppies which have dead blooms on them back to the ground. Sometimes you get a second flush of blooms if you do that, rather than just take off the heads.

Managed to save one baby bluetit from certain death (by our stupid cat), but not the other one. They do seem to fledge from the ground, which doesn’t make that much sense really. Chased the cat away, lured her back into the house with the treats in the crackly bag, and wouldn’t let her out. So she sulked. Well, to be fair, she slept in her little cat bed. Which is fine.

Fam-a-lam Bingo tonight. Auckland NZ, Dublin, Brighton, Malvern and us (Solihull, West Midlands). We have the technology. We have the bingo cards via email. Can’t wait . . .

Zoomed this morning with some of the knitting guys. We drink tea/coffee, talk over each other, laugh a lot, and do show and tell with our projects. Or in my case, the broken cable.

Finished Succession Season 1.Have even gone off Marcia. But it’s still exciting. Just paid for Season 2.

Success!

After days and days of problems with the wi-fi signal (probably because everybody is using wi-fi more now we’re all at home so much) I decided that we needed to put the Virgin Superhub3 into modem mode and buy a new router.

So I did. Also bought some new cables and switch boxes. It all arrived today (Asus RT AC 85P and tp-link 8 port switches, along with various lengths of Cat6 flat ethernet cables).

Surprisingly, after a number of sleepless nights worrying about it and thinking it all through, I put it together and it worked with no problems at all. I can now see every single thing on the network, which I couldn’t before. Even the TV!

Also the Tivo box had been giving us problems, which have magically disappeared. And hardly any HomePlugs too. One (plus its pair) for the printer, and one (plus its pair) for the hifi thingamajig in the kitchen. Which are also visible on the network. Part of the problem was that the electrical circuit in the study doesn’t talk via HomePlugs to the electrical circuits anywhere else in the house. So now we have 2 x 30m of ethernet cable going from study to lounge, but it all seems to work. I can’t believe how easy it was.

The main problem, though, was that the Virgin Superhub3 wasn’t coping, as demonstrated by the new router, which clearly is coping. Hooray!

But I’ve only just finished it. It could all go horribly wrong by tomorrow, but that’s unlikely.

And just to finish off, here is a photo of some poppies in my garden. Yay!