October

Well, some of the fiscal madness has undergone a spectacular U-turn, but not all of it. The Tories are fighting amongst themselves. It’s not that surprising. We did know Liz Truss was going to be awful, we just didn’t know how awful, and how quickly. We shall see. Interesting times.

I found a conker the other day! Here it is with the cat licking my thumb. Strange animal . . .

We have had a succession of plumbers/electricians coming to the house to fix various plumbing/electrical problems – electric shower switch, replacement of immersion heater, then replacement of the immersion heater switch, one thing after another.

Today the wonderful gardener came to trim the Leylandii and has made an excellent job of it. He’s just great. He brings his little dog Winston who is a little bundle of tail-wagging joy. Love it.

Meanwhile I’ve had a dodgy blood test result which the doctor wants to talk to me about, so I spent an hour on the phone waiting to be told there were no appointments, and I’d have to phone back the next day at 8 am. So I did. Caller No 46 at 8:01 (!), but appointment made by 8:23. Hmm.

And I have an appointment for my flu and Covid jabs next week. Yay.

Been feeling quite low and tired, but buying four new tops has cheered me up. Works every time. Two from Weird Fish, which is a site I have been lurking around for some time, and two from Marks and Spencers. Lovely.

Off to carry on reading Confidence Man (latest book on Trump) by Maggie Habermann. Interesting. Reinforces my view of him. Mm.

Omnishambles/Clusterf*ck

No other way to describe our current PM & Chancellor. What on earth do they think they are doing? apart from making very rich people even richer, of course. They refused to publish a fiscal forecast – hmm, wonder why? and now they’ve been severely scolded by the IMF and summoned to a meeting of the Budget watchdog (whoever they may be). Unprecedented. For goodness’ sake. Grrrr.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Mandy, I did my ironing yesterday. Also, today, dismantled and cleaned out the bathroom cupboard above the basin. Last week I reorganised and cleaned out the cupboard above the loo, which has made it much easier for me to reach the things I need to reach. Then, today, I finished changing my wardrobe from summer to winter. It doesn’t involve much, to be honest, just moving all the summer clothes into the spare room and putting plastic clothes protector thingies on them all. I’ve decided which autumn/winter clothes I hate, and are therefore going to the charity shop.

So domestically I am a goddess. Bit sweaty, mind, and need a shower, but that’ll have to wait until hubby has been through his stuff and put it all back in his side of the cupboard. He’s currently doing something technical with the car and its tyres.

Also working up to making an apple cake (a Nadiya recipe). I have all the ingredients, just need to wait until hubby has finished his chocolate cake from the Co-op, and for the energy to manifest itself. Yeah.

Ordered some plants – white bergenia, aconite bulbs, ajuga (bugle plant) and some white cyclamen. Can’t wait. The gardener has pulled back loads of ivy so now there’s room for such things.

Ok. Off to sort out the on-line grocery shopping list.

Too Damn Hot

We just don’t cope well with anything over 25C in the UK. Some people love it – I used to when I was younger – but these days I just need to mope around with the fan on drinking cold water. The grass looks like straw, but usually recovers. Whether it will this time I don’t know. This is unprecedented. I’m using water from the water butts in watering cans rather than the hose. There’s currently plenty left but don’t know how long it will last unless we get some rain soon.

And while I’m in full rant mode, why are the muppets competing to be our new PM not even talking about climate change? you couldn’t make it up.

Hmph.

Loving the football – Euros 2022 (women players). It’s very exciting.

Also reading lots of books on my Kindle. Big fan of Jack Reacher (Lee Child), Lucas Davenport and his cronies (John Sandford) and am currently deep into John Milton (Mark Dawson). Yeah. Was given a Lucy Diamond book by my friend and really enjoyed that too.

No knitting though. My stupid hands are way too painful.

The cat wasn’t very happy that I wouldn’t let her out in the heat – after about 11 am I kept her in the cool. She isn’t terribly bright, and hasn’t come across this sort of heat before, but made the best she could of her situation, lying flat out near a fan! so not really that cross with me . . .

Today is not a great day – I slept most of the morning and have decided I don’t have to do my ironing today or tomorrow, nor do I have to package up the Sonos kit we’re about to sell on ebay. It’ll all wait until my energy comes back. Hmm.

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.

Goodbye, 2020.

I shall be very pleased when this year is over, although things clearly won’t magically improve overnight. Our area in the West Midlands, UK, is now in Tier 4, which is currently the highest state of lockdown. We can buy food, or get medication, but that’s about it. Any doctor’s appointments are by phone, unless the doctor asks to see you. We’re just awaiting our vaccination letters. Hubby will get his first, as he’s 75. I’m 65, almost 66, so will have to wait for mine. Even then I don’t expect things to suddenly improve.

Decided I’d read fiction at bedtime, non-fiction in the day. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Currently reading “Rage” by Bob Woodward, which is interesting to say the least. The Trumpster didn’t co-operate with Woodward over the last book, apparently regretted it, and has co-operated with this book. Just the conversations/interviews between the two men are interesting. I can only cope with a couple of chapters at a time, because it’s all quite intense. I am highly relieved I am retired and never had to work in such a high pressure environment.

Then we watched an episode of West Wing last night, which restored my faith in humankind. Without that, I would have no idea about how the US political system works. Mm.

It took me weeks and weeks to finish this jumper. I knitted up the whole back before I realised that I’d knitted it a size too big, and wouldn’t have enough yarn (discontinued, of course) left to finish it. Sigh. So I undid it all and started again. It has been well received, and this particular grandson is, shall we say, quite particular about what he will and won’t wear. Phew. He loves green, so I was hopeful. Love this little guy. The yarn is Bergere de France Magic+ (Aran weight), and the colour is Lichen. The pattern is called Jake. (US$5) When I was (much) younger, knitting patterns were numbered, not named. Mm.

I did have a small crochet moment or two (I was referring to it as a “frenzy” but my sister called me out on it!) and made four of these. It’s simple craft cotton, DK, and I used a 4mm hook. The pattern is Crochet Coasters (free) by Coats.

And here is some snow falling. It didn’t stick, but it is very cold and frosty here.

I wish you all a much, much better 2021.

Busy, busy.

For me, anyway. Busy for me does not equal busy for other people.

However, I have crocheted three small items (gifts so no details), continued knitting for one of the grandsons, and actually managed to wrap most of the Christmas presents. Normally most of them go into gift bags and are handed to the recipients, but of course this year they all need to be wrapped and posted. We have family and friends in Dublin, Malvern, Brighton, Southampton, France, and New Zealand. The last of these I already posted and has actually arrived.

The crochet was a bit fraught, though. I started on a thing I’ve done before, three times, without any problems. This time I just could not get it right. The edges were all over the place and the stitch count was always wrong. Eventually, after six re-starts and a new pattern, and watching very useful YouTube video tutorials on how to turn and where to poke the hook for the first stitch, I finally got my head round it. Phew. Now I have ordered some more appropriate yarn and will do some more when it arrives.

Also took the plunge and ordered new bras (see what I did there?!) We shall see what transpires.

Have spent a lot of time sleeping lately. Today I did get up but had to go back to bed at 10, and slept till 1 pm. Got up, showered and dressed (always an achievement).

We’ve been watching a three-part series on Berlin in 1945. Old diaries and old films have been skilfully put together. It was difficult to watch, particularly for me, as I have Jewish heritage, but worth it. I felt quite sorry for the people, except for one young woman who worked in an office, when she wrote how dreadful it was for “we Germans” to demean themselves. She was talking about the manual work, collecting and sorting bricks. When I’ve seen the photos of women doing that I’ve always assumed they self-organised. Nope. No. They were organised by Russians, or British, or Americans, and clearly resented that, and doing the manual work. Hmph.

Have also just finished reading “The Good Germans” which was very interesting and surprising. I read “The Good German of Nanking” years ago and was profoundly touched. I also have “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, which tells a very different story about how normalised and widespread anti-Semitism had been for many years before WWII. So it was heartening, and good for me, to read about high-ranking Nazis who were what was referred to as “Beefsteaks” – brown on the outside and “red” on the inside, which means that they were secretly anti-Hitler and did all they could to subvert his policies. For example, one particular senior Nazi was also a Quaker, and managed to arrange for various Jewish people to be sent to Quaker houses in America.

Sometimes I think some of us (certainly I do) live in an echo chamber, so that our own views are reflected back to us and hardly ever challenged. So I do try to understand other points of view when I can.

I even feel a little bit (only a very little bit) sorry for Trump. He is acting, in my view, like a spoiled 74 year old child, refusing to accept he lost. Thank goodness the judges and the courts are upholding the law and ignoring the tantrums.

It feels a bit calmer now and I have hope that a smooth transfer of power can actually take place. Mm.

Musings

Well. Have given up knitting for now. Also gardening. The last bit I did caused so much pain I just can’t deal with it again.

So we’re investigating getting a regular gardener. It would be good if they mowed the lawn as well, because my guess is they’ll do the edging too, which hubby does not.

Getting quotes for trimming the leylandii, the willow, the lilac and the winged spindle (which has got way too big for its boots), and getting the front lawn laid to [moss] clover, not moss! The one guy has sourced [moss] clover turf, which is great, and means it won’t need to be seeded. Also a small rockery in one corner of the front to stop people reversing over the lawn. And lawn edging of some sort – the same guy suggested wood. Just waiting for the quote now.

None of this will happen until September, when the growing season is done.

Quizzing tonight. Hubby is insisting on reading out the questions, despite the fact that I’ve gone to a deal of trouble to make each round accessible via WhatsApp. I’ve told him that’s fine for his rounds, but for the ones I’ve devised, I’m not going to. Things may change before the quiz starts. Sigh.

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I’ve been noticing a great deal of white people saying stuff publicly on social media like “but we abolished slavery!” “but we’re not racist!”. It’s making me so cross. It’s as if there is no such thing as white privilege, because white people aren’t on the wrong end of it, so they don’t see it. “We abolished slavery” does NOT absolve anybody for it being a thing in the first place. A lot of the UK’s money came from slavery. It’s dreadful. It’s very uncomfortable. But we need to acknowledge it and understand it, however awful.

There’s a guy called David Olusoga, a mixed heritage historian and presenter,  who shines a light into the darkest recesses of history, gently but firmly. He’s excellent. Then there’s Akala, musician, rapper, university professor, and writer.  Also mixed heritage, and as sharp as a tack. I’ve just read his book “Natives” and it’s really excellent. Made me think. A lot. I mention the mixed heritage because it means that these guys are regarded as Black, and have been on the receiving end of all sorts of crap. So they know what it’s like. They’ve been there.

And police brutality. Hmph. Suspension is just not enough. In my (not so) humble opinion, if a police officer is deemed to have used too much force, suspension should be the start of it. The end of it should be in court. It’s not ok to just discipline them. I acknowledge and am glad that many police officers are wonderful, helpful people, with exactly the right mindset to do the job. But – and it’s a big but – some aren’t.

And as for The Trumpster, don’t even get me started. I might get a bit ranty, and that would not be a good thing. Seems to me like somebody is trying to start a civil war.

And on that happy note I’m going to stop now.

 

“interesting times”

Well, in the UK, at least.

I’ve been trying not to get too depressed about the news, but today I was cheered up a little because Scotland’s highest civil court has ruled the suspension of Parliament unlawful. There will be an appeal next week but fingers crossed.

It’s “interesting” because we’re just watching a series on TV about the rise of the Nazis, and we’ve just got to 1933, when government simply got rid of all the inconvenient checks and balances and took over the police, the press, anything that got in their way. As I’m of Jewish heritage (from my dad and his family) I am particularly interested in this stuff.

Anyway, anyway. Did a bit of gardening yesterday – hubby got out the electric handsaw and pruned some very over-exuberant shrubs, I picked up the debris, cut it smaller, and put it in our green wheelie bin. Which, I may say, is now full to bursting.

Today went to the hospital for my eyes to be checked. Tomorrow off to the osteopath. And all last week was not at all well with an infection which actually needed antibiotics. A three day course and I’m much better now, if somewhat thinner. (no, not D & V! I just don’t eat when I’m ill).

Managed a bit of knitting, finally, and it’s a toy, so small pieces. Quite satisfying really.

Just drinking a very welcome cup of tea after my afternoon sleep and then I’ll do the shopping list. We have it delivered so it’s “do the list, log in, order it all, and wait for them to arrive”. Excellent. Much better now we have broadband. In the early days with a dial-up connection (remember those?) the whole thing would crash half way through an order. Very frustrating.

 

What a mess!

Election.
Brexit.
London Bridge attack.
Grenfell House fire.
Mosque attack.

It couldn’t really be much more depressing.

The government is in complete disarray, having failed to win a working majority. So now they’re trying to do a deal with the most right-wing party they can find who actually have some seats at Westminster. Trouble is, this party (the DUP) don’t believe in evolution, they are anti-abortion even in the case of rape, they’re almost fundamentalist Protestants. So that’s not going terribly well, really.

Brexit – after all the bluster and braggadocio, we have caved on Day One of negotiations.

London Bridge – more terrorism, more people hurt and killed.

Grenfell House – a disaster just waiting to happen. Dreadful tower block fire, we still don’t know how many people died, and there are still survivors who have nowhere to live/sleep.

And a lone man drove his van into worshippers outside a mosque, hurt several people and killed a man who was already receiving first aid on the pavement. More terrorism. What is it about religion that makes people so damned angry?

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On the positive side, there’s what? the weather? I hate it. Hate it with a passion. The heat and humidity reduce me to a sweaty puddle. Thank goodness it’s normal temperatures now (17 deg C). Roll on autumn, say I. Much more my bag.

But LCS did like the Superman outfit I knitted for his baby doll. And I’ve made one shawlette (Pimpelliese) and am happily knitting another one (Close to You).

And the garden is looking fabulous, though I did manage to kill a potted lavender through sheer neglect. Oh, lavenders like it dry, I thought to myself. Until I had a look this morning and it’s sort of grey and crispy. Oh dear. The poppies have been spectacular, my single peony looked lovely, and I have plans to plant and pot up more stuff. But need a new lavender now. Oops.

 

I can’t believe it’s April already!

Have been meaning to blog for weeks and weeks now. I’m not sure, to be honest, where the time goes. I’m retired! but my diary is fuller now than ever. Note to self: Keep at least two, preferably three, days a week clear.

Had a wonderful birthday a couple of weeks ago. A lovely, relaxed day, dinner with hubby that night, excellent. And last night we went for another meal out as it was our 16th wedding anniversary. We’ve been together for 25 years now, but it took us a while to tie the knot  … … …

ESW is now three months old and an absolute delight. Happy, chuckly, coos and gurgles. There are still some difficult nights but generally I think she’s turned a corner. Mum and Dad are looking less fraught and more relaxed too.

LCS is almost 17 months old, also a joy. Happy, happy little boy. Smiley, cuddly, fun to be around. Love them both so much.

Been knitting and crocheting up a storm. I learned how to do Amigurumi style crochet, and although I need some more practice, it’s going ok really.

Starting a new project tonight – in a beautiful linen yarn – and it’s a shawlette. Love shawlettes. Who knew?

Also went and supported the junior doctors in their strike action a couple of times – first time it was really cold and raining. Second time much more clement weather. Made a two-sided poster, which is fairly sturdy. So I’m quite pleased about that.

 

And what about the Panama papers? about damn time. Very interesting that only three members of the Tory cabinet were clear about their non-use of off-shore tax havens, the others would not reply. Ha.

Need to get in the garden more. I’ve done some spring-cleaning, but now I need to give the lilac bush a jolly good talking-to, in the form of a hard prune, and I also need to get some ericaceous compost, cut the haggard pieris back, and top dress it. Next week hopefully.