Mixed Results

Had a blood test last week. Our doctor’s surgery has a website you can log in to and have a look at your results. So I did. The good news is that my thyroid levels are fine, and the cholesterol level is better than it’s been for 20 years. Still a little high, but much better. I’m guessing that’s down to giving up dairy altogether.

However, there are several results which are “abnormal” so I have to have a repeat test next week. My red blood cells are too big, and my iron levels are low. I don’t understand any of the other results which are dodgy, so will wait and see what happens. If the doctors want to do anything, they’ll phone me. If they don’t, I’ll arrange a telephone appointment to discuss the endless sleeping.

Today has been a medium day. I have managed to get up, washed and dressed, make a chocolate fudge brownie thing, and eat lunch, but it was touch and go. I’m ready for bed now.

Not doing any handicrafts at all, but just reading a knitting magazine and thinking about crafting helps a bit.

Here are some photos to cheer things up a bit. The flowers in the vase are what’s left still in bloom after our 21st wedding anniversary last weekend. Yeah.

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.

Progress of a sort

The first batch of non-dairy yogurt was not a success. Some things worked. It set. It smelled vaguely like yogurt. But tasted of absolutely nothing. I used sugar free soya milk, agar agar powder, and a probiotic from Holland and Barrett. Dumped the lot (apart from the bit I tried.) Next batch will try oat milk (barista style) and see what happens.

Currently making dairy free soup in the Bimbi/Thermomix. It’s a first for me. I do make cakes and stuff in it though. Now I’m not eating any cheese I think I need to increase my protein intake. Two potatoes, one large carrot, one large onion, fresh parsley, tin of chopped tomatoes, water, salt and pepper, and away we go. Just cooking now, when it’s done I’ll whizz it up with some dairy free spread and see what happens.

Finally heard from the tree trimming guy after I made it fairly clear we want the work done, and if not by him, by someone else. Original quote was last June. Work supposed to be done September. Now they’re coming, weather permitting, on 22nd February.

Knitting – enjoying knitting this scarf and although it’s slow going because I can’t knit for as long as I once could, it’s enjoyable.

(Fairly) Big Decision

Maybe not to anybody else, but it feels like it to me!

For the last 15 years or so I have avoided cow’s milk and products. No cheese, yogurt, cream, nothing. I drink my tea and coffee black. Weak, but black. Only goat butter/yogurt/cheese and sheep cheese, and soya milk on my cereal or to make custard with. I did try goat milk on my cereal but after so long without animal milk it tasted really odd. I also use dairy free spread (Pure) to make cakes, and it seems to make lighter sponges.

I researched very carefully which chocolate I could eat. “May contain milk” is fine. Chocolate would be a huge sacrifice, so I just eat dark chocolate.

Then I was prescribed statins. Well. Oh my days. It’s been two months now. The digestive problems started immediately, then the asthma got worse. It took me about two weeks (!) to recognise that these were the symptoms I used to get with cow’s milk. So I decided to give up sheep and goat dairy too. The difference was noticeable within a couple of days, and I feel so much better now. My tummy problems have just gone away and I don’t need my blue inhaler at all. Hubby does all our cooking (I bake cakes and stuff when I can) and once a week we have a cheese vegetable bake. He has cheese sauce, I have grated goat/sheep cheese, and it is grilled. For some odd reason, that makes a difference, and so far it seems that I can tolerate grilled dairy (but not cow’s stuff) once a week. Strange that I don’t miss eating cheese, because it’s one of my favourite foods, but probably the fact that I feel so much better now has mitigated against that.

Soya is a staple in our house, both milk and yogurt. I have just ordered a yogurt maker, some dairy-free starter (at least I think that’s what it is – probiotic tablets I can just break open and add to the mix . . .) and have discovered that we have cornflour in stock anyway. Very excited. I had a yogurt maker back in the day and used cow’s milk. We flavoured them with jam. Nom. Nom. Nom. Fingers crossed it all works.

Feelings

Really not sure where to start here.

Horrified, angry and sad about the poisonous racist culture which has finally, with the murder of George Floyd, burst, across the world, into huge protests. The protests are vital.

Reading Akala’s book Natives. He’s so articulate and incisive, I really rate this guy. Even Piers Morgan is careful when talking to him. Good.

Recently read Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), which describes the casual racism nobody white seems to notice or acknowledge and The Night Women (Marlon James) which is written in the voice of a slave.

All excellent, if difficult. But it needs to be difficult. We need things to change. Radically.

Very up and down mood-wise, not so good pain-wise, no knitting possible.

Baking’s possible though, thanks to the Thermomix. (Dairy free berry muffins – yummy)

However, did manage to do some gardening yesterday. I guess because I don’t use my hands in the same way as I do when knitting. It leaves my hand painful and swollen for a few days, but it’s such a good feeling to be outside and doing stuff.

Moved one rosemary plant, dumped the old woody one, planted a new one in a better place. Split the thyme, dumped the woody bits, replanted. Cut back the hellebores, replanted all the daffodil bulbs I’d accidentally dug up, ripped out the dead forget-me-nots and dead-headed the poppies. Very satisfying. (None of the above pictures are from what I did yesterday!)

Disappointed that the wildlife camera missed two woodpeckers (TWO!) because the disc was full, and one jay because the angle was wrong. Grr. But there are plenty of clips of the robin, who was extremely interested in what I was doing yesterday, and came so close!

Even when I wake up feeling dreadful, I improve after breakfast and chatting to hubby. And a square of chocolate. Hubby is currently making me a cup of tea. Excellent.

 

Trivia, or How I Manage My Life

When I was young, I didn’t have very much confidence about whether my feelings, choices, the things I liked and disliked, were ok. Partly because my childhood was spent not knowing when I would next cross an invisible “transgression” or “naughty” line.

As I’ve got older, though, bit by bit, I’m slightly more sure about things. As long as they don’t adversely affect anyone else, I think it’s ok that I gave up wearing nail varnish 30 years ago. It was such a huge relief. I’m crap at applying it, then within the hour I’ve smeared or chipped it, and it was just a pain in the neck. So I don’t do it any more. And along with such small but effective changes, here’s a short list of the things I do/don’t do to make my life a little easier. Just in case anybody else out there has the same sort of uncertainty.

  • I don’t “do” afternoons. I sleep in the afternoons. No outings, no meetings. Very occasional and special exceptions, for example my niece’s wedding party soon.
  • Not going to buy cakes, even dairy-free ones, when I have a cup of tea in a café. They are usually a disappointment, apart from particular ones (Costa’s dairy & gluten free Christmas cake, Starbuck’s dairy & gluten free brownies – as long as they’re still wrapped), so I just end up feeling guilty for eating a cake and worse for having spent the money and not enjoyed it.
  • Currently “off” coffee. I can only drink decaffeinated anyway, or I end up shaking and bouncing off the walls. So I’ve decided it’s fine to just drink tea. Black, weak, no sugar, thank you.
  • Not going to feel guilty any more if I can’t do any knitting, either because my hands are swollen and tired, or because my brain just isn’t working.

And so on. Small things, but each decision taken lifts a weight off my shoulders.

23rd February 2014

Lots and lots has happened since I last blogged. The trick is to remember it all.

Union-wise – I’m going to a Regional UNISON Seminar in Bilston in April, and Retired Members’ Conference in October. It’s ok, it’s one day in April, and one night in October, because we oldies are less likely to party the night away . . .

Still knitting the cable jacket – in fact had a small disaster. I’d finished the back, and almost finished the left front, when I found a huge, obvious, mistake, just above the armhole shaping on the back. So I unravelled it and knitted it back up again.
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Here’s a photo of the mistake. See if you can find it. But it’s all ok now. Then I made a mistake on the shoulder shaping of the left front, and had to re-do that. But now I’m on the right front, and being very very careful.

YD has had a dreadful time at work, but has come out unscathed, and is now angry rather than in bits. Brave soul. She was 30 on Friday. Can’t believe I have two daughters over 30.

Stitch Solihull is having a “knitting-fest” at the end of March, to celebrate their first whole year trading. I’m making a three-tier carrot (birthday) cake. Iced. In the planning stages at the moment.

The garden is looking less bedraggled, and buds are appearing. Snowdrops and primulas are blooming, and the daffodils are budding. Lovely .

primulasnowdrops

I have new glasses. They’re a very similar style to tme in my new specshe previous ones, but are lighter, a less dramatic colour, and have proper nose pads, which means my nose stays cool and comfortable. Essential (!)

Had another small episode with my back, but the osteopath and 48 hours on Tramadol sorted that out.

And most exciting of all, I’ve been covering the shop. I’ve done it twice now. When either of the young women runs a course on a day she works, they need somebody to staff the shop. And I’ve really enjoyed it. Still not quite used to the till, but am able to offer advice on yarns and patterns, and only had to ask for help twice on Saturday. Several more dates in my diary. It’s voluntary, but it’s just so exciting. Leaves me very tired though, but that’s manageable! and it’s so worth it. Love it, love it, love it.

Next course I’m planning to book myself into is lampshade making. Very excited about it. Not sure when it will be, but it’s definitely in the new course schedule, which should be out by the end of this week.

I also made some dairy free Danish-type pastries. Cinnamon rolls. Bought the puff pastry (dairy free) and made the mixture myself. Delicious. I’ve missed Danish pastries so much!Image

Gaaaagh! December already!

Luckily I’m just a tad obsessive and am all ready for Christmas. It’s just hubby and me this year, which will be lovely. Seeing family before and after though, which will also be really nice.

Knitting – going well. The physio is definitely helping my hands. I have exercises to do, and once a week they massage the hands and treat them with ultrasound. Excellent. I’m knitting the last Christmas present at the moment, everything else is done. Just need to sort out the baking I’m going to do. I have the ingredients for the cake (this year it’s going to be the dairy-free, egg-free fruit cake, one with marzipan in the middle for me, one without for hubby). Need to sort out the mince pies pastry and enough flour and eggs for the cakes I’m taking to various family dos. Exciting.

I’ve also been crocheting. Nothing large, and no photos yet (don’t want to spoil anybody’s surprise . . .) but I am quite pleased. Results have been blocked, starched, and are currently drying.

Did a bit of gardening this morning – only about 45 minutes. The dead rudbeckias looked horrible, and so did the asters, so they’ve had a severe cutting back. Also dug up an old dead no-longer-ornamental grass, and picked loads of moss off the soil. I’ve filled three large tubtrugs but that’s ok. We need to take a trip to the tip this week anyway.

Saw my great-nephew last week. He is just delightful. Crawling, cruising, almost walking, and such a happy little soul.

Finally, here is a photo of the cat. This is where we find her when we’ve been out, and she’s been in, confined to the kitchen and utility. She has food, water, toys and her tray in there, so it’s like a little bed-sit for a cat. But she just goes into her little bed.

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Bless her little heart.

This and that.

We had our alarm system serviced on Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon it went off, all by itself. The man came back and sorted it out. Or so we thought. This morning it went off again, at 6 am. It wasn’t set, hubby was awake and out for a walk. I dragged myself out of bed, down the stairs, and put in the code, and it stopped. Harrumph. So they are coming out again with a special “thing” to stop it doing that on Monday. Fingers crossed for the next three nights . . .

Today my car has gone to the garage for a service and MoT test.  I take it to Westley Garage, on Station Road, in Acocks Green, and have done for several years, on the recommendation of a friend. They’re good, trustworthy, friendly, and know me by name. The only thing that’s complicated about it is that this garage was my Dad’s. Walking up the forecourt, going into the office, all of it, brings back childhood memories, not all (or even many) of which are happy. In fact, today I got quite tearful as hubby drove me home in his car.

The staff working for my Dad were lovely, kind and funny and nice to my sister and to me. Just the smell of the cars being fixed brings it all back. The guy in charge now remembers when my Dad used to run it. Mm.

Knitting – going well. Have finished Antarktis and am absolutely delighted with it. May well knit another one in the Sweet Georgia Cashluxe turquoise I have. Currently knitting a sock as an experiment for hubby. He wanted plain brown or black, but I just said no, that’s too boring to knit. It’s grey-blue and self-striping, very muted and sombre. If he likes this sock, I will knit him the pair, but am not knitting two socks before he tells me he doesn’t like them. I’ve also bought some Sirdar Chunky yarn to knit him another slipover top. Also fancy knitting another Pimpelliese shawlette.

Sewing – Christmas project all finished now.  I am pleased with it. I don’t sew clothes, just curtains, cushion covers, and oblong or square things.

This morning I’ve baked some chocolate chip cookies (dairy free of course). Hubby is off to do some leafletting – about keeping our NHS public.

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Gardening – I’ve dug up all the aquilegias from one of the beds. I do love them, but they’d gone absolutely bonkers and were trying to take over the world. They’re a pain to dig up, though, they have long tap roots just like dandelions. Now there’s room to plant some daffodils, and when those are in, I have some annual poppy seeds to sprinkle on top. There’s a lovely red ornamental grass with lovely fluffy-looking seed heads which is going in a pot, and I have two pots ready for some miniature daffodils, which, when they start to sprout, can go each side of the front door.

The rudbeckias are lovely. I used to think they were gaudy and horrible, but they really, really cheer up an autumn garden.

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I also pruned two of the buddleias really hard back, and the wisteria which, despite being cut back to its trunk, is going wild again. There’s another buddleia in the front garden which is going to get the treatment next time I’m outside with a pair of freshly cleaned and WD40’d secateurs. And it’s not actually raining.

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Love these Michaelmas Daisies too.

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There are two hydrangeas here, but one of them has flowers in both blue and pink. Love it.

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And love these sedums too.

Just booked the train for a weekend in mid-November to go and stay with ED and her chappie. Can’t wait. They’ve decorated their lounge this year and I really want to see it, and them of course, and their crazy cat JR. I’ll take knitting to do on the train, but can’t knit in their house because JR just can’t cope with it. “what’re you doing? what’s that? why is that stringy stuff wriggling about? what are those sticks doing? can I play?” No. Just no.