September 2022

Well, Queen Liz died. I thought she was actually a good woman, just very lucky to be born into the privileges she enjoyed. I also think it’s pretty damned impressive that she was working right up until the day before she died. How many of us could do that at 96? Mm. And she will leave a big hole in the British consciousness.

She was reputed to have an excellent sense of humour, even though she could be snappy at times. And who isn’t? Huh? some lovely stories now circulating on line.

However I am really, really not a monarchist and am hoping that at some point it will either be abolished or reduced dramatically. All these castles they have up and down the country tend to be cold, draughty, and uncomfortable. Unless, of course, you have underpaid staff to build your fires and so on. Sigh.

And of course the media is absolutely full of it, every day. How much more is there to be said?

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So we are currently watching Breaking Bad. It’s not exactly light viewing but so exciting! and there are laugh out loud moments, even though it’s very black humour.

I’ve stopped putting days/dates on the to-do lists I make. It just puts pressure on me. So I have a list of things to do, but no deadlines. Much better. Yesterday I did a bit in the garden, today I’ve made the sponge base for a trifle for upcoming guests. I have 15 hyacinth bulbs to plant and several pots to wash, but that’s for another day. Also planning a crumble (frozen apples and blackberries, ready made topping) so that’s not too onerous. Other admin stuff too but boring for everybody but me.

I’m also reading Robert Galbraith’s The Ink Black Heart (the latest Cormoran Strike book). It’s so complicated I’ve just started re-reading it, having only just finished it. I’m less confused this time! but god I love these books.

Anyhoo, here are some pics of the garden.

Some of the crocheted dishcloths.

Garden and Crochet

Here are some photos of our garden. You can see the crocosmia are struggling this year, and the sedum spectabile also looking pathetic. I’m just investigating whether hyacinths would be good – have had some in pots for the last few years, but this year they didn’t do so well. Mm. The grass looks dead but will probably recover. My favourite rose is still blooming, bless its beautiful heart. The lavender needs pruning, the rudbeckia look as if they are beyond help, but the oblong bed seems to be ok somehow. Mostly herbs and some alchemilla mollis. Also the asters are looking hopeful.

Also, I’m in crochet mode, so here are some photos (which I may well have posted in the past) to demonstrate my level of ability. I think I’m an average crocheter. I do enjoy it but have to keep my eye on what I’m actually doing, whereas when I’m knitting I can usually do it without looking. Ho hum. Keeping edges straight is something I’ve had to work at (thank you YouTube), and the amigurumi toys look ok once they’re finished but I do have problems with the stitch count . . . Granny squares, now, I can do. Still have to concentrate though!

August. Hmph.

Well, I got so fed up trying to sort out Pysolfc on Ubuntu 22.04 I eventually installed Ubuntu 20.04, which has a working version of the card game. What a performance. What an absolute performance. But eventually managed it. I think I’ll spare you the gory details, because they’re just not interesting unless you’re a computer nerd like me.

Anyway.

The weather is much too hot again. For me, at least. Various health warnings abound on the news and the weather forecasts. But it’s even hotter on the Continent. God I hate it. But I’m inside, with a glass of tap water, and the fan on in whichever room I’m in.

Also, on the upside, I decided that the coffee coasters needed a bit of an update. Some of them are crocheted and need a wash, but I didn’t have anything to use in the meantime. So I actually got out my crochet hook, my favourite pattern, and crocheted two! Very pleased with myself, because it’s been months and months since I did any crochet at all, and weeks and weeks since I was able to knit. But now I’m feeling a bit more motivated, so may well have a go at knitting quite soon. Maybe when the weather calms down a bit.

I can’t bear to even think, let alone write, about the shower of muppets currently in charge of the government, or competing to be in charge. Nor can I bear to think about a certain ex-President of the USA who has had his “beautiful home” searched by the FBI. Although I am chuckling to myself that he’s pleaded “The Fifth”, as he is on record as saying why would anybody do that if they were innocent . . . . hee hee hee.

The cat is getting used to being inside all the time. She does cry occasionally, but not very much at all. More of a “song of her people” than her normal “feed me you lazy sod” sort of a noise, but she is eating ok, using her litter tray ok, and sitting on my lap and purring when the mood takes her. Which is most days. Mm.

Went to a “cat cafe” on Monday with my friend Sue. You need to book, and you get an hour. There are ten kittens, all four or five months old, and it was an absolute delight. There are plenty of toys for play with, shelves strategically placed so that they can climb and stay up high, cat scratching posts/trees, and everything they could possibly want. We had a cup of tea and a stroke of a couple of kittens who decided we looked interesting. It was full of mums and children, and not all the children understand you have to be quiet and move slowly around cats, so it was noisy. But I will definitely be back. Maybe not in the school holidays though . . .

Getting There

Improving but slowly. It’ll be eleven weeks tomorrow since the op. Swelling in my hand is less, pain is less, but still very stiff. Things I can now do include showering, hair washing, dressing myself, eating mostly right-handed, even started a bit of crochet (a few minutes at a time, with an ergonomic hook).

(This is an older photo)

But. I lost all the weight I’d regained. I now weight 8st 7/119 lbs/53.9kg. I was 9st 7lbs. So even my skin is too big. Am weighing myself every week (too depressing to do it more often than that) and the doctor is aware. I am to arrange a phone consultation if I lose any more, or don’t put any on, within 3 weeks of when I last spoke to her. That means another week.

I do feel ok though, perkier generally, but more tired than usual.

Yesterday went to the osteopath. Today took the cat for her annual flu jab. She hates the car and howls the whole journey, but is quite happy at the vet, even purring while she’s being examined. And she takes absolutely no notice at all of the injection!

Tomorrow we’re going to the tip (recycling centre). We have to book now because of Covid but that’s ok. No queues! and once we’ve booked it means we have a quick sort out to make sure we are taking everything.

Almost done with the Christmas shopping. A couple of gifts to get, but mostly done otherwise. Parcels arriving almost every day. Thank goodness for internet shopping!

The state of the UK is dire though. And the government will simply not admit it’s because of Brexit. And why is anybody surprised that hardly any HGV drivers have applied to work here? why would they? Brexit made it clear that the right-wingers don’t want “foreigners” here. It’s our own stupid fault. So we have queues at petrol stations, shortages of workers, and we insult the NHS staff by offering them a paltry 3% pay rise. After all that clapping to make sure they know that they’re valued. Harrumph. Just Harrumph. I try to avoid the news because it’s so damn depressing.

However, our garden looks lovely. Despite everything.

Recovering

So. The fridge is working fine, and the fan oven mysteriously just started to work again all by itself. Strange.

However, hubby’s hi-fi is definitely dead. So we’re getting new kit. No small matter, and he’s very excited about it.

Visited a new cattery this morning. The one we used and loved for many years was Compulsorily Purchased (it’s a thing) because of the HS2 railway. Very sad. So she went to a different one which the cat liked – I can tell because she came back happy and not clingy. That one is now closed because, well, Covid. The owners were a bit anti-social, but the staff looking after the animals were just lovely.

So we had to find a new one. It’s excellent, although the satnav let me down badly. It took 35 minutes to travel 9 miles there, and 12 minutes to get home. But now I know. They have a wooden log in each cat-room, standing on end, leaning into the corner. For a scratching post. Genius! I’ve asked where they get them. Our cat has ruined our carpet. But only in certain places.

I slept for most of yesterday, and half of Sunday, but am feeling a little less shaky and knackered today. Found a nice easy crochet pattern for a shawl which will be good to do when I’m fixed. https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/one-row-fishnet-shawl

The weather here in the English Midlands is changeable, to say the least! today we’ve had the complete gamut. Rain, wind, sunshine, cold, warm. British weather, I guess. Sigh.

The planning for the decorating of the lounge has moved up a notch. Waiting for a decorator to come along and quote us. Exciting.

And May The 4th (fourth, if your first language is not English!) be with you all 😉

Progress

I am so relieved, and so is everybody I know, about the verdict in the George Floyd case. The thing is, though, it should have been an open and shut case, but because this was a white cop killing a Black man, there was still just the chance it might go the other way. True justice will be when there is no doubt about such things. I guess that for George Floyd’s family there is a kind of closure, but I can’t imagine how I’d feel in their place. Mixed emotions I guess. And cops do not have a good time in prison. I know nobody’s supposed to have a good time in there, but cops – well. Particularly when it’s absolutely crystal clear that a cop is a racist. Hmm. Karma.

I can’t remember who asked, but somebody did, for progress reports on the crochet blanket-to-be. Well, today the osteopath did some gentle work on my poor hand and I was actually able to crochet a (purple) square with hardly any pain. I’m so pleased with myself. So here’s a picture! And there’s enough left on the 50gm ball for one more. Each 50gm ball does two squares. The ones which look pale grey are actually pale lilac.

My friend’s little boy chose a plant for my birthday a few years ago. It’s flowered regularly at this time of year ever since. I have been known to drown these (Christmas Cactus? Shrimp Plant? Schlumbergera?) but this one has survived my ministrations. I sent them a photo so they could coo over it. Oh blimey. You can see all the dust and cat hairs on the mat. Oh well. It’s real anyway.

Windows decided to install, without my express permission, (!) the update it’s been threatening me with for weeks now. I’ve been ignoring the dire warnings, because last time I installed this particular update, I couldn’t print anything until I’d uninstalled it. So I was quite concerned. There was no opportunity to say no, or stop it, so I let it carry on and it took a couple of hours. During which time I crocheted said square.

Then, before I tried printing, I did a full backup, including email and mobile phone contacts, and bookmarks, to two different places, and then a backup to a USB stick of the passwords I’d need should I have to access the network.

I tentatively tried to print, and IT WORKED. Thank goodness for that.

Still downloaded Ubuntu 20 LTS though, and have burned the installation files to yet another USB stick, just in case. You never know.

Modest Goal Achieved

Yes. I actually got up, showered, washed my hair And Got Dressed today. First time since Sunday. Hubby and I both seem to have some sort of virus. Not Covid, but we’re both tired and very floppy. We had been to the recycling centre on Friday. You have to book a slot, and we were both masked and gloved, but it’s the only place I can imagine we caught anything.

Dairy: I have a “Milk Ladder” pictogram, but am seriously thinking of not doing it. For one thing, I feel loads less bloated and have no tummy ache now I’m off all dairy, and have lost 6lbs in weight.

Handicrafts: tried, and failed spectacularly, to convert some skinny jeans to straight jeans. I’d got the inserts ready and everything, but after spending hours and hours and hours struggling, getting fraught, sweaty, and my hands protesting loudly, I gave up. The net result was one pair of jeans with the leg seams undone. Bought a new pair instead. Yeah. Just tried them on and they are FAB so I have ordered two more pairs. My current jeans are old and starting to fall apart, even though (or maybe because) I love them, so need new ones. The pair which has arrived is going in the wash tomorrow.

Not been able to knit or crochet for weeks now. I have a telephone appointment with the doctor tomorrow, so hopefully will end up being referred to the specialist. I also have pins and needles in the fourth and pinky fingers of my right hand, as well as the arthritis, and pain from the bottom knuckle of my thumb down to my wrist. At least three different things going on there. Hmm. Left hand is starting to hurt too. Oh joy.

The weather is cold and it is snowing intermittently, in a desultory way. It’s not sticking, though.

We have seen some seriously good films. The Irishman – an Irish guy who gets involved with The Mafia. Long (three and a half hours) but very involving. The Two Popes – Benedict XVI and Francis – loved it. Particularly loved all the different languages you get to hear (French, Italian, Spanish, Latin) – although my Latin is rusty to say the least! The Popes are played by two British actors (Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce) so it was a joy to hear them say how exhausting it is to speak English – so many rules and so many exceptions! Also Mary Queen of Scots. Very good. Very well done. Not exactly historically accurate, but hey, it’s a film. It’s not meant to be.

Had to go back to bed this morning for another little sleep. Got up, dressed etc, and had some lunch. Now I’m sitting doing this with a cup of tea. May need yet another sleep this pm but decided I would just do what my body suggests and not beat myself up about it.

Time to go and read a bit. I have a magazine which appeared this morning and two different books, one a library book (Henning Mankell – not a Wallander story) and one a book I’ve bought (Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Frasier). Also just finished Disloyal by Michael Cohen. Blimey. That was hard to read. It’s a mea culpa but also brutally honest. He’s a hard man to like but I do appreciate his bravery in writing it. Could only manage to read one chapter at a time, though, because it’s so intense. I’ve also read Rage by Bob Woodward, and two books on Trump by Michael Wolff. Fire and Fury and Siege, I think. Again, intense and difficult.

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!

Better.

Well, we watched The Interview, of course. Dynamite. Oprah was so good. I was surprised that Meghan didn’t do any research, despite what happened with Harry’s mother. I do get that our “Royals” are not such a big deal abroad, but the sad story of Lady Di I would have though was of global interest. Also surprised that Harry didn’t mention she’d need to curtsey 🙄 to his gran until approximately 2 minutes before she had to! For goodness’ sake. But oh, what a toxic “institution”. The press here are just so racist and spiteful. To wit, the wildly different ways in which Kate and Meghan were portrayed eating avocado toast (Kate praised to the skies for being healthy, Meghan destroyed for causing climate change). To be honest I wasn’t much surprised by most of it, except the press “parties”. Held at the palace! how blatant is that! Poor Meghan and poor Harry (though why he is miffed they stopped paying him is a mystery to me. If you leave a job, they don’t pay you any more!). But the suffering they both went through, without any support, is absolutely appalling. And don’t get me started on Piers Morgan. And I am no royalist. I would much rather we had a republic. Not that I’m a Republican in terms of the USA. Not at all.

I’m feeling better. Since, I’d say, last Sunday really. More energy – though I’ve had to sleep all morning, having tried to stay awake after breakfast and failed. The garden is lovely. The sun is not out today, but was for the last two days, so I went for a ten minute walk on Monday and Tuesday. That might account for the fatigue this morning. Yesterday I defrosted the small freezer, made a delicious chocolate cake (dairy free of course) and repotted a desperate house plant. Oh. Also might account for the fatigue this morning.

The yoghurt maker is going. It’s possible that my niece may have it, she’s pondering at the moment. If she doesn’t, I will Freecycle it.

Have started a crochet blanket in basic granny squares. I have a selection of double knitting cotton yarn in various colours (from Hobbii.de – love their stuff, even though the postage is expensive), so am doing squares, rather than all in one big square, to make it easier and more fun to sort out the colour scheme when it’s done. No rush. A square or two a day is fine. Even though it’s the most basic of crochet techniques, I still can’t watch TV and do it, like I can with some of my knitting. The finished squares (well, not blocked yet) are actually a lovely lilac, but you can’t tell from the photo. I’ve ordered some more yarn, enough to do two more squares and a border, in dark navy. It’ll make a blanket 4 x 5 squares of 6 3/4″ each, so small but useful in the winter evenings. Or even the summer ones, here in the UK.

Loving the Freecycle system. It’s called Freegle where I live. It shut down during lockdown, but started up again yesterday. I had four boxes of books and dvds to give away, which I advertised just before lockdown. The person who wanted them agreed to wait till now, and came last night to take them away! our study looks So Much Tidier. And she brought me several little tiny pots with a sort of dried pellet of compost and some seeds in. Parsley, carrots and peppers. Am going to investigate. Exciting.

Trying

Yes, it has been. I had another go at making yogurt, with oat milk (barista style) and it was a total failure. Down the loo it went.

However, I have done some research. Back in the day I used to make yogurt with evaporated milk. So I checked it out and you can still get it, and it’s much easier to use (no boiling required), and so I’m going to have a go. I won’t be able to have any of course because it’s dairy, but hubby will. We shall see.

The knitting and crochet are going ok as long as I don’t beat myself up for doing it slowly and for a short time. I’m pleased with how it looks (no pics because the crochet is for a present).

The garden is looking absolutely lovely. Daffodils have suddenly appeared without my noticing, snowdrops all over the place, and a few crocus too.

My younger daughter is 37 today. She’s going to tell everybody she’s 36! so not quite sure what will happen when she gets to 40 . . Spoke last night via WhatsApp as she lives in New Zealand. Glowing with health and having a lovely time.