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.

End of an era

For me, anyway. I have had my Ford Ka for 20 years. I bought it from a local Ford dealership where it had only been used as a demo car, and it was six months old. It’s done 47,000 (UK) miles, and been serviced and MoT’d regularly. (MoT stands for Ministry of Transport [roadworthiness test]).

Well, it failed the MoT spectacularly on Tuesday. The garage said I can still drive it until the old MoT expires on 5th October. However, hubby and I have been talking casually about our next car being an electric one and had done some research.

So we took the plunge and on Wednesday bought a three year old BMW i3 after test driving it. It’s a bit (very) odd, but handles very well and drives like a dream. Most of my driving is local. (I can’t drive for more than 15 minutes at a time). We’re picking it up on Tuesday next week. Very, very excited. The Ka didn’t have air conditioning, electric windows, and was a manual gear change. None of those things were a problem, but to have all the fancy schmancy mod cons is quite exciting. I loved the Ka. It was easy to drive, park, and worked for 20 years. Not bad I think.

Am looking forward to learning all the computery bits and driving it. The only complication is charging it up. We are having a “fast charge” point fitted to our house, and we’re unlikely to use it for long journeys, but there is a bewildering range of public chargers. Some are free, some are not. A variety of different providers. Some do fast charge, some do not. I will ask the garage for advice but honestly! you’d think there would be some sort of universal charge card that would pay for whatever you use wherever you use it. Perhaps there will be eventually.

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Finished the toy I was knitting. It’s lovely. No pics, it’s a gift. Started a new project – a cardi for ESW who is almost 4 now. After that will be a hooded jacket for LCS (he’s nearly 5!)

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The garden is lovely. I absolutely adore autumn. The sun is shining but not too hot. The colours are mellow. Love it.

New project

My knitting mojo has got up and gone. I’m sure it’ll be back at some point. Luckily I don’t have lots of knitting to do for Christmas (have done most of it anyway and have alternatives for stuff I haven’t done).

I watched a programme called The Repair Shop on BBC2 last night, by chance. It was absolutely lovely. One of the things that was repaired was a very old teddy bear. The process was really interesting, and I thought about getting my ancient bear repaired. Her name is Edwina Sarah Catherine Bear, and she is almost as old as me (64).  Checked out various sites, and it is certainly possible, if expensive. Then I went to the osteopath today and she suggested I could actually have a go myself.

Well, yes, I could, I thought. I found the episode online, watched the relevant bits, made myself a list of supplies and the order in which to do things, and before I go any further, have ordered a book which should help me on my way. (£2.99, so worth it!). Already decided to use elbow patches for the paws and possibly even the ears, which are in rags. We shall see. I must have some fabric somewhere in my stash which would be good for lining her. But I need more information – what sort of darning thread to use, whether it’s possible even to darn her as much as she needs, how to deal with the joints (oh yes, she’s jointed).

As you can see, she is very well loved, and over the years I have patched her up inexpertly. She seems to be stuffed with very small bits of foam and some straw too. I took the growler out years ago, and have decided probably not to bother with another one.

Anyway, we shall see.

November!

Did my ironing this morning. All of it. Although I had to do it sitting down, as my stupid back is playing up. Painkillers, ice packs, phone call to osteopath tomorrow to see if I can bring forward the next appointment.

Had the leylandii at the back trimmed, and one of the leylandii hedges at the front cut down by half, so it’s just below the level of the roof of my car, which is an old Ford Ka. The other hedge at the front has been dug up and the stumps ground out. That was quite exciting to watch. Two men, fully kitted up in safety gear/helmets/goggles, with a large noisy machine, took approximately 10 minutes max! Now I just need to get as much of the thuggish ivy out of the soil as I can, weedkiller the rest, and see how it is next spring before I plant some more Photinia Red Robin, to match the little hedge at the front, parallel to the house.

Meanwhile, hubby decided to pollard the willow tree himself. Yes, himself. Worked, hard, all morning, up and down ladders with a saw, despite my bleating about stopping now, and did it all. Cut up the twiggy bits and fitted them all into the green wheelie bin. But he then had (heart) “symptoms”  for three days. I was very worried and a bit cross. It is frustrating not to be able to do the stuff you used to do easily. It is. But still. I’ve had years to come to terms with it (slipped a disc 43 years ago) so I do know how difficult and limiting it is. But harrumph. And of course he’s fine now.

Wasn’t able to knit for a couple of weeks – arthritis in my hands. But I’m ok now and nearly finished the Festival shawl (dark grey Gossypium and white/cream Paradou). It’s lovely and easy enough to knit (though not while I’m watching subtitled Swedish programmes!) and I will be pleased with it when it’s done. Next up, Whelk vest top for hubby, in pale grey Rowan yarn. Need to do a sample tension square, because the pattern is for DK, and the yarn I have is worsted. Not much difference, but enough to check first. Also need to check I’m ok with the pattern . . . . .

Have treated myself, after watching Black Earth Rising, to a cuff earring with two chains attached to a small stud. The heroine of said programme wore one, and looked stunning. I won’t look anything like her, of course, she’s about 6 ft tall, black, muscular and slim. Ah well. I do like it though. Hubby thinks it’s weird. Don’t care.

Christmas – presents all done. Not wrapped yet though. And I need to get my act together with regard to cooking. Planning a Yule Log, so need to practise with an ordinary Swiss Roll (tomorrow). Also need to do a carrot cake and a bakewell raspberry slice. And some mince pies (bought pastry, bought mincemeat, just need to put them together . . .)


Back again

Well, I did get better from the M.E. episode, but have had a throat infection and no voice for the past 12 days. Harrumph. I’m better enough to do things like have my hair cut, and I went to the knitting group today, but it’s so frustrating only being able to whisper. And the funniest thing is that whenever I explain to anybody I have no voice, which involves pointing my flattened hand, palm down, at my throat, and waving it from side to side, whilst whispering “no voice”, most people then whisper back to me. The guy who cuts my hair actually started using an improvised sign language, bless his heart, so I cough/laughed and said “I can hear you!” and it was all fine.

But for a week or so I was not well. No knitting, no guitar. In bed, very tired and weepy. Bummer, big old bummer.

However, yesterday I felt up to some tidying up in the garden. I cut the dead dicentra right back, deadheaded the buddleias and trimmed the whippy growths off the wisteria and the golden hop. It only took half an hour but the garden looks so much tidier. I do have a new plant (heuchera, Ginger Peach) but haven’t decided where it will go yet. I think I’ll do that tomorrow.

Bought some new stuff at the knitting shop today – some of it is for me to knit Xmas presents, some of it is for a present just as it is. Nearly finished child’s hooded jacket – cast on the hood today. Must find some interesting buttons though. Hmm.

YD is feeling much better now she’s 20 weeks. All is well, she looks fabulous and feels good too. Thank goodness. ED is still luxuriating in motherhood with her delightful little boy.

The Malvern grandchildren came to stay last Friday – Sunday. We went to Ragley Hall, which has an excellent adventure playground, perfect for an 11 year old and an almost 14 year old. Trampoline, high rope bridges, monkey rope, zip wire, wonderful. We just made encouraging noises and provided large pieces of chocolate cake and hot chocolate with cream on top at the fabulous cafe afterwards. And of course we were both in need of sustenance too!

Just treated myself to a new handbag, new ankle boots for the winter, and some new underwear. I had to research it long and hard on the internet, but for once, everything is actually perfect! The bag is the right size and shape, the underwear is fabulous, and the ankle boots I actually went to the shop and tried several pairs on. I’d taken socks and my orthotic insoles with me to make quite sure they would fit with my winter gear. And they do. Good old Marks and Sparks.

Feeling better

Much better, in fact. Am having to be very careful, and not do more than three things in seven days. Also making sure I sleep every afternoon. Usually 2.5 – 3 hours.

Been knitting again – finished more Christmas presents, and a lace-fronted cardigan which had been causing me grief. I couldn’t manage the lace front which was in the pattern, so substituted a different one. It involved quite a lot of searching and maths-type thinking to ensure that it was the right sort. But managed it ok I think. Finished it last night, it’s currently “blocking”, as you can see in the photo.

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The garden is looking pretty good considering it’s August and it can look a bit scraggy at this time of year. But the crocosmia “Lucifer” really brighten it up, along with the hydrangeas.

Guitar lessons are going well too. Have learned a few more chords, and am able to play a few more songs now. At home, when I’m practising, I like to sing along if my voice allows. Sometimes it’s a bit croaky, but today I was in (comparatively) good voice.

Thermomix: I’ve made double berry dairy free muffins, carrot cake, and pizza dough. The first time I used it was fraught, but the muffins turned out fine, and I’m better with it now. Next up will be the (dairy-free) sponge base for a trifle. Hubby uses it most days, either for lunch and/or dinner. He loves it.

The counselling is going well, and helping with my “issues”. Feeling lighter (of mood) and more at peace with my life. I actually have a lovely, lovely life, and our house just feels peaceful and calm. The counsellor is a wonderful woman, very good at listening and analysing stuff, and makes me think about stuff in a firm but gentle way.

Upgraded to Windows 10 today. It was very smooth and quick. Doesn’t look particularly different from Windows 7, the only niggle I have (and many others too going by the chatter on the internet) is the colour of the menu bars. They are white. All of them. So you can’t tell which window is live. I’ve fiddled about a bit (a lot) and found one workaround which will allow you to have one menu bar coloured, so you can tell that one is live, and at the same time allows you to have a slide show background, but only one of the standard pre-installed ones. It’s a little niggle, and doesn’t really affect the functionality, but it’s an odd little thing for the developers to have done, really. Fingers crossed that they fix it soon. It also seems that Microsoft are not going to make a charge for updates/upgrades, except to businesses. We shall see. First time they try to charge me, I’m off.

Thinking aloud

Well, we bought the Thermomix. I’m going to make some pizza dough with it later on, and hubby has already been using it. It’s wonderful.  It’s an extremely fancy, computerised food processor which can cook as well. Am planning to make a carrot cake next week, and it should be much easier and quicker than it usually is.

Haven’t been able to knit for almost a week now, too tired and my hands are sore. Maybe tonight. We’ve also been watching Breaking Bad, and it’s just too exciting/fraught to knit anything remotely complicated while that’s on. But last night we watched the last two episodes of the final series. Exhausting. Excellent. We’ll miss it though.

And the counselling I’ve been having is going well. The counsellor is a wonderful woman. Understanding, listens to me, and makes me think/reflect about things. I’m able to celebrate all the good stuff in my life. I think I’ve always appreciated the good stuff, but actually saying it out loud really helps affirm it all. She has used the analogy of going up in a hot air balloon, and leaving the bad stuff behind on the ground. I’ve added to that, in my head, so that all the wonderful people in my life are extra/auxiliary balloons, lifting me higher.

I usually go to a knitting group on a Saturday morning – sometimes I go to the Thursday morning one, but counselling  takes up Thursday mornings at the moment- but today I’m not going to do anything. Can’t even be bothered to shower and dress properly. Might walk round the garden in a bit (that takes all of thirty seconds) because it’s a lovely day.

The cat had lost weight when she last saw the vet, so we’ve been feeding her more every day (now two sachets each day) and I need to take her to be weighed again at the end of next week. She looks healthy though and has plenty of energy. Sleek, glossy fur, eating well, killing small defenceless things (a mouse, so she’s doing her job). She purrs loudly, despite initial resistance, when I pick her up to cuddle her and puts her paw gently on my face, so I don’t think she minds too much.

The guitar playing is improving slowly. I can’t strum and sing. I can strum, or do one chord per note, and sing.  I’ve taught myself one song, and learned four others from the teacher, and practise most days. Almost every day, really, but the last two days I’ve just been unable to even think about it.

So for the next few days I’m not going to do anything big. I might start the next stage of the knitting project (if you’re a knitty person, I need to pick up the stitches for the sleeves – it’s a cardigan knitted top down in one piece, so the sleeves are knitted in the round). May practise the guitar, or maybe leave that till tomorrow.

I currently have the fan blowing cool on my face, a cup of tea beside me, and I think it’s time I did a (quick, easy) crossword. Laters, guys.

Feeling much better.

Things have been happening.

First, most 20150519_120432important, and the best fun, was that my lovely friends Réjane and her husband Yves spent the afternoon with us while they were on a short trip to the UK. (See what I did there? I managed the acute accent on the “e”! Impressed?) It was just wonderful. Yves and hubby had not met before, and got on really well. We sat and drank tea, ate berry muffins, took a short walk to The Shop, came back, drank more tea, ate more muffins, walked round our little garden, and had a generally wonderful time. We exchanged birthday presents – I was finally able to present her with the cacti, which look great in her house, and I received some Yves Rocher products, two hand made carrier bags, two French magazines (one of which has some wonderful knitting patterns in – must learn French knitting terms), a pretty necklace, – a whole host of lovely things.

Also, I’ve had my assessment with the NHS for the depression which reared its ugly head recently, and have been advised that one-to-one counselling is the way forward. So now I’m awaiting the phone numbers to try out and see where the shortest waiting list is.

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The garden is looking beautiful, because of all the rain and then bits of sunshine. Going bonkers, in fact. I think May is my favourite springtime month of the year. Everything is so fresh and green, it all looks brand new. One poppy has opened, and there are lots and lots more waiting to burst open. The bluebells have been, and in some cases, already gone. The tulips are fabulous.

Knitting – have done the back, one front and one sleeve of this pattern. I had done two thirds of the second front, but messed it up. There are two pattern panels, and then there’s the shaping as well. But it’s fine. I’ll cast it on again tonight. The sleeves I’m doing slightly differently from the instructions. No pointy cuffs, just the diamond pattern up the centre of the sleeve. It looks nice. I was a bit concerned about the length of the sleeve, but after much faffing about with the calculator and the tape measure, it’s all come together. And I made a note of what I did so I can make the second sleeve match.

So generally I’m feeling much better.

Although the cat is not great. She’s very constipated, and it’s furball causing the problem. Took her to the vet’s today and she has had some treatment, we have medication for her and special food. She makes no fuss at all at the vet. He can do whatever he needs to, no complaining, no hissing, not even a miaow. And now she’s being very affectionate (for her). That means she lets me pick her up and cuddle her, while she purrs very, very loudly. Back to the vet on Thursday for them to check all is well. If not they’ll have to anaesthetise her and do a proper enema. Hmm. We shall see.

Not the cheeriest way to end this post, but she’s not exactly poorly.

Time to blurb a little.

I’m not going to talk about the election, because it’s just so depressing.

But I have been working in the garden, in bits and dabs, 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there, and it’s been lovely. The weather has been kind, the sun has shone, and it’s been very therapeutic. I’ve planted a nepeta (catnip) plant in a pot, which Bertie The Cat loves. Also a red hazel. I’ve weeded, dead-headed and cut back massively. Still stuff to do, of course, but the garden is currently looking wonderful. The pink dicentras are going bonkers. The bluebells are out, the tulips are lovely, and everything is budding or in leaf. One of my Christmas presents was a medlar tree, which I left in its little pot to winter in the cold frame, and have not long potted that up in a large pot. It’s going mad. Even fruiting. I dug up a lovely bergenia because the slugs and snails were eating all the leaves. I made sure the roots were clear of any soil and pests, planted it in a pot, protected the pot against invaders, and it’s going berserk. Leaves growing out of every available place. Beautiful. It’s like it’s saying “thank you”.

And we’ve had our wonderful decorator in to do our bathroom and en-suite. I’m so pleased with how they look. He always does an excellent job. He’s quiet, methodical, neat and tidy. He clears up every night before he goes home. With a vacuum cleaner. Yup.  He’s been doing our decorating for nearly 20 years now. Although we don’t have decorating done very often (to put it mildly). I painted our ensuite last time and I’m just crap at that stuff. All of a sudden the vileness of the colour hit me, then I started noticing anew the mess I’d made, so it’s just lovely to have a fresh, new, light colour. It was a peachy sort of colour and is now Dulux “Violet White” but is less white and more lilac. Lovely.  We’ll get him in next year to do our kitchen and utility when we’ve had the kitchen done (finally).

Tomorrow I’m going to try a “folk” size guitar. The 3/4 classical is a good size for me, and has a lovely sweet tone, but has a fat neck, and it’s very difficult to strum. So I’m trying an acoustic with steel strings and will see how that goes. If it’s too big still, I’m going to try a 3/4 size acoustic. Exciting.

Knitting is going well.Finished socks and matching fingerless gloves for YD.

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Logan is coming on apace. We saw him last Monday and Tuesday. He’s wonderful. Very smiley and giggly, and loves being sung to and jiggled about. Tonight he’s had his first solid food – a sweet potato chip. Looks like he enjoyed it . . . he’s already in 9-12 month age clothes, and he’s just 5 months yesterday. We don’t do puny babies in our family. I was a very puny baby, but first hubby was tall, so ED and YD are much taller than me.  IMG_2730

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That’s about it I think. Might take/post some photos of the plants if the weather allows.