What? more than a month?

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Can’t believe it.  It’s May already. The garden is bursting into bloom and I love it.

I’ve been knitting quite a lot – new summer top just blocking, waiting to be sewn up. Photo when it’s done. Also halfway through a Wingspan – I think this is the third I’ve knitted. Lots of projects in my head, lots.

The shop (Stitch Solihull) is taking part in Love Your Yarn Shop this Saturday – if you live in/near Solihull, West Midlands, come along. Back of Notcutts on the Stratford Road. Cake, discounts, mini-workshops – lots of fun to be had.

I went to a lampshade making course there and am delighted with the lampshade I made. Now I want to buy kits to make four new ones for the lounge table lamps. Very exciting.

But I’ve had another M.E. episode. Lots of sleeping, feeling very very low, not able to do much at all. Had to send my apologies to a lunch I was going to in Coventry on Wednesday. Hmm. And I’m not sure what caused it. Usually I have an idea of why it’s happened. Not this time. I am feeling better now though but I know I need to take it easy and be careful. Hmph.

 

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 .

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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.

Time to blog.

Not a lot has been happening, really, but I thought I’d have a little blurt on the blog.

I have finally managed to plant the tulips – found a huge pot which took all 14 of them. They’re apricot and I can’t wait for them to grow. I’ve wanted to plant apricot tulips for a long time, but there’s just no space in the garden beds! The garden is actually lovely at the moment, the rudbeckias are really cheerful, and I’ve managed to plant the daffodil bulbs as well as some – lots and lots – of annual poppies too. Fingers crossed they grow.

Last thing I’m going to plant are winter pansies. Dark purple ones look wonderful on the front of the house as it’s cream-coloured. Just need to pop to the garden centre and buy some. I have everything else I need to plant them.

The pain in my hand is still there. Not all the time, but when I try to straighten my hand out, to pick up a glass of water, say, or something like that, I can feel it grinding and it cracks very painfully. But I’ve seen the doctor, told her I’m no longer on the Tramadol, and she’s prescribed Co-codamol. That’s ok and helps with the pain, but makes me very sleepy, so I’m only taking them at lunchtime and bedtime, or else I’m asleep all day long.

Knitting is going well. Have finished two Christmas presents, am on a third, and plans for more. Each project takes a week or two, and I’m not planning to knit as many presents this year, so I won’t feel I’ve failed if I don’t get round to them for whatever reason. Is it just me, or do we all (women) set ourselves impossible targets then beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve them?

Made a new sewing needle case today. The old one was very old and boring and falling apart, so I found a scrap of fabric and made myself a pretty new one.

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Also set up another Christmas present – a sewing project this time. All ready to go now, but enough is enough for one day.

We have fixed the kitchen sinks and taps this week. The sinks have “basket waste strainers” or some such technical term, and although the washers are detachable, you can’t get the replacements. So we went to B&Q and found something that will do, and instead of buying new “basket waste strainers” for £12.50 each, we spent £2.50 on two new washers that will fit. The taps needed new “insides” – don’t know the technical term for that – you can’t get just washers for the sort of taps we have – but we fitted those ourselves and they’re wonderful now. It’s like having a new sink!

I’m about halfway through Christmas presents. Some are hand-made, some I’m buying, but I don’t have plans for all of them. Need to check Amazon wish-lists (yes, mine is all up to date) and contact parents. Children’s wish lists are a false friend – they don’t update them, so you end up buying them something you think they’ll love, and they already have it. Yes, it’s happened to me.

The cat has completely recovered from her abscess under the eye and the fur has all grown back. You’d never know she’d had anything wrong with her. Bless her little heart.

I’ve been reading a lot of Bill Bryson books lately. They always cheer me up, no matter how dreadful I’m feeling, and I frequently laugh out loud. As a result, I have been thinking about what would constitute a perfect small town for me, and mostly it’s where I live, although I would be very happy to do without the McDonalds. There are bookshops, several libraries, a local yarn shop (7 minutes walk for me, yay!) a pleasant shopping area, but a few too many chain stores. More independents would be nice. But hey, you can’t have everything. I always go to an independent shop whenever I can – Woolmans rather than Notcutts, Stitch Solihull rather than anywhere on line or Hobbycraft, and so on.

Can’t wait to cast on part 2 of my current knitting project tonight. Always exciting. And the yarn is fabulous – Opal Sweet and Spicy – you just never know what’s going to come up next colour-wise!

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.

It’s been a while.

I can’t believe it’s over a month since I blogged.

On Monday ED came to stay for a couple of days, which is always just delightful. This time she took me to Harry Potter World for my (belated) Christmas present. It’s belated because I haven’t been well enough to go. Until now. It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t remember a better day out. I took 100 photos and videos (trimmed down now!). It is so well done, I spent the whole day saying “Oh my God” and “it’s so well done”. I loved it. And now I want to read all the books again! of course. ImageImage

Things have been quite busy here, not least because I’ve been going to Stitch & Sip (the knitting/crochet group) twice a week. I love it, I really do, but it’s just too much. So I have had to rethink that, and have decided that I’ll go one week on a Thursday (with home baked goods) and the following week on the Saturday. I really like both groups of people, and would miss them if I only went on Thursdays, or on Saturdays. So that’s my plan.

Have also decided to learn to crochet, and my next knitting technique is going to be sock knitting. I’ve cracked knitting in the round (with two circulars) so that’s my next big plan. Am booked on courses for both at Stitch Solihull. Exciting.

I have been minuting the meetings of the newly fledged Patient Participation Group at our local surgery, but will have to stop, probably after the next meeting. It’s too much – first of call because of my wonky hand (of which more later) and also too much energy required for concentration during the meeting. It flakes me out completely.

I am going to a union meeting tomorrow. I’m a retired member of UNISON, and the local branch has just started up a new Retired Members Section. In some ways I’m looking forward to it, in others I’m a bit worried. We will see how it turns out.

Knitting – it has just taken me six weeks to knit a child’s top and matching doll dress. I am very pleased, but it is the sort of thing I would have got done in a couple of weeks in times gone by. I also managed to lose the buttons I wanted to use, but managed to find some nice ones anyway. Here’s a photo:Image

Saw the doctor today. I have been referred to a bloke who will see if he can sort out my shakiness (they seem to call it tremor these days) and another bloke for my poor old hand. But am finally taking Tramadol again, which just works. And I can take paracetamol as well in between the Tramadol doses. My cholesterol is 6.something, so I need to reduce my cheese intake. Boo. On the plus side, I don’t have a chest infection, despite most of the symptoms. Which is good. I think.

My poppies, which are just fabulous, have been a wonderful display in the front garden. I grew them from seed, and they’re a dark orange. In the evening, in the sun, they look as if they’re lit up. The rain has bashed them about a bit, but people actually stop and point them out to each other – including the refuse collectors. It’s so lovely to think that they brighten other people’s days too!Image

What a day.

My friend from school, eons ago, came for coffee today. We’ve kept in touch since school (1965 – 1972!) and see each other approximately every 2 months or so. Love her to bits. Always jolly, always elegant and fab, always fun.

Anyway, today was a bit different. Hubby had spotted our cat spending a lot of time waiting, absolutely still, by the shed. Something was moving under there, and it was bigger than a mouse. We were very worried it might be a rat, or even a nest of rats (ewwwwww!), but couldn’t really see.

While Cas and I were drinking our coffee outside, as it’s been such a beautiful sunny day, we saw what it was. It had come out from under the shed and was sitting boldly eating my plants. A very small baby rabbit. The cat was most surprised, and decided not to attack it, just to watch it. So cat and rabbit watched each other.

I wasn’t terribly impressed that it was eating my plants ravenously. Even the flowers, not just the leaves.

So I spent most of our coffee morning on my knees, in case I frightened it, catching it. I fetched the carrier for when we take the cat to the vet. I fetched a carrot and a couple of cabbage leaves, ripped them into small pieces, and left a sort of trail.

Eventually, after a couple of hours, I actually managed to catch it. It screeched like a baby and wriggled like billyo, but stopped when it was inside the carrier. There were two small bits of cabbage leaf in there and a stump of carrot.  Turned its nose up at the carrot, but ate all the cabbage leaf!

Then I schlepped round all the neighbours from whose houses a baby rabbit could possibly escape and asked them if they’d lost one. No joy. Then I phoned the vet, who said to bring it straight round and they’d scan it to see if it was chipped.

So I did. It’s a wild baby rabbit, probably a female, and very healthy.

No sign of any mother rabbit, or any other baby rabbits. The vets had given me the phone number of a small animal sanctuary, and to cut a long story short, that’s where the baby rabbit is now. Any more that appear, and that I can catch, will go straight there. No more schlepping round the neighbours.

Wild rabbits are a sort of grey/brown colour, like hedgehogs. Tame rabbits are usually, I have discovered today, white, or black, or grey. The vet did suggest we could keep it – no thank you!

So that was that sorted.

When I woke from my afternoon ziz, I decided to have a go at installing Windows XP on my laptop. I’d put a 500 Gb drive in it, which worked (sort of) in the RipNAS. Well, it didn’t work in my laptop. So I put the old 160 Gb drive back in the laptop, which has Lubuntu installed on it. Well, Windows XP wouldn’t install on that, either. So I have bought a copy of Windows XP for no discernible reason. Grrr. However, the upside is that the laptop is still quite happy running Lubuntu. I suppose that’s ok.

The reason I need access to Windows XP is that I have knitting software called Knitware, which I need to design myself a top to knit in Bergere de France Coton 50. And you can’t install this program in Windows 7 (which is what I have now on my main pc). You have to faff about installing it in XP, then copy the installed files into a particular folder in Windows 7, get a Borland Database Engine file, and generally fiddle and faff.

In the end I booted hubby’s pc into Windows XP and sorted it all out in there. Now it’s working fine in Windows 7 and I’ve designed the top, worked out roughly how much yarn I’ll need, and will get it tomorrow. I will definitely need to do a tension sample though. Further exciting instalments as the project unfolds . . . .

And for now, I think, that’s it. So many adventures in one day. Let’s hope tomorrow is calmer, and I don’t find more baby rabbits eating my plants. Cute as they are, they can ruin your garden.