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.

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!)

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.

Trying to stay positive

Struggling a bit at the moment, to be honest, with pain and depression. I do have medication for both, and have needed to up the pain meds, so I’m taking Co-codamol 30/500, which is the strongest of that particular make, and has to be prescribed. But it makes me feel a bit odd, so I only take two doses of two tablets a day, and the other two doses are plain Paracetamol. It’s just a question of what time to take which meds.

So in an effort to be less miserable, I have ordered and received a latch hook kit. It’s something I thought about but never followed up on, and one of my friends has started and loves it. When I’ve finished the current project (tea infuser cover) I’ll have a go.

Meanwhile I’ve taken some photos of the lovely colours in the garden, which always cheer me up. May is my favourite month, I think, garden-wise, although autumn is my favourite season. I try to ensure that there is always something interesting going on in the garden for every season, though it does require research because I don’t know enough. I do know some stuff, but not enough. A couple of photos of Bertie the cat sneaked in. She’s being cute because she wants to be fed . . . and in the final photo she’s got her little tongue out a bit . . . .

So here you are:

Baking Fail

Well, tomorrow it’s my birthday, so I thought I’d make a cake. I made a chocolate cake the other week and it was delicious. This one was plain vanilla, but a disaster. The top was quite a lot smaller than the bottom of each piece, so it looked as if it was collapsing.

Huh.

So I cut it into squares, froze two lots and left one lot out and will make a trifle with it tomorrow. Ho hum.

The seedlings are doing their thing. Bit skinny but I’ve moved them onto the windowsill, reduced the heat in the bedroom, and am brushing them lightly with my hand each morning and night. This apparently makes them react as if it’s windy, and they grow a bit more sturdy.

The old Dell went the very next day. Excellent.

Am considering phoning the doctor’s to see if they’ll refer me to a rheumatologist for the pain in my hands (both of them now). Had steroid injections last September but am struggling now to do any knitting or crochet. Hmph. The doctor did say they would refer me if/when the pain returned. The specialist can do X-ray guided injections, which are more effective. And, I must say, less painful than injections done “blind”.

The garden is still a joy. And today the window cleaner came. Not only the windows, but all the outside doors got a jolly good wash. Really pleased.

Woke up at 10.30 this morning, but now it’s 14.25 and I’m ready for another sleep. Really? yeah. Really.

Been watching some excellent TV. The final series of Spiral (Engrenages), The Queen’s Gambit, Bloodlands, now the new series of Line of Duty, and we’re a bit late to the Netflix party, but Da 5 Bloods was excellent. Gory, fraught, emotional, all those things, but so good.

Right. Off to bed.

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!