Wednesday, 16 December 2009

slow progress

Due in part to my being lazy. Person did not come to clean as her car lights had gone kaputt and she had to wait at the garage for someone to see to them. Shame, but unavoidable, especially with it being dark and sleety - you need your lights, and how!

We have long since lost the mild weather and it has set in to be horribly cold, with no respite for the forseable future: a persistent East wind over Christmass (when it usually lets up for a bit). Being an East wind, we get the worst of it; if it is a North wind we sometimes have it a little easier while the brunt of it hits Scotland and the North. (If we are very lucky, it gets stuck north of us!) That is the main reason I would not go to live in Scotland, much as I would love to.

Christmass cards are done, bar one; still have to wrap pressies. Was intending to do that today, but have been horrendously lazy. Must have early night so I can get going tomorrow: hope I can get someone to post them for me so I don't have to go out.

Rat man is due and I hope he will sign me off as free of infestation ;-) :-)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

progress (of a sort)

Parcel of craft goodies arrived and I have sorted the Secret Santa, ditto a pressie for a friend (which is a bit for now and more for Christmass). I just have to remember to take them with me to post next time I go out ;-) I was hoping to get most of Christmass sorted this weekend. Despite my determination to allow minimal disruption, the obligation I feel to do something is distracting me, so I hope to get as much as I can done tomorrow. I reckon I can get my cards out of the way now that it is December and then will only have to put stamps on them later, when the stamps arrive. I was hoping to do my mother's update for her, but it hasn't got here yet :-( means I will have to do it next week, as she is anxious about it.

Have decided tomorrow morning is the best option for Mass as it started raining tonight. Prefer the Vigil Mass, but it's dark and cold (and the church heating isn't effective enough - it's warmed up by the morning!)

Friday, 4 December 2009

family saga?

Follow-up visit from the rat man yesterday: he asked me if I had noticed a lessening of activity and recommended leaving the trays for another two weeks as there was still plenty in them. Difficult to assess activity, as the main activity was eating my M+S bread, which I have since removed to a rat-proof place; ditto with the choccie. Hope the little one was the last of the family and haven't seen any since then.

Meanwhile, Christmass is impinging on my time. I took part in an advent calendar swap on and am enjoying opening my little parcels. It takes time putting it together, but it's great fun to do. I now have a pressie ready for my niece, which will be taken to Zimbabwe by someone who is flying out on Saturday. Orders have gone out to the German deli for goodies to eat (for me and my mum) and to Calico Crafts (for goodies for a friend's pressie and the Secret Santa on C by C). I hope they are quicker than the people I ordered from last year: my order has already been dispatched, so should come soon.

One day, I might even get some study done ..... Sunday is reserved for my own Christmass cards and my mother's letter (which needs to be done quickly as otherwise she will panic). Otherwise, I need to go to Croydon for trousers and possibly one or two pressies and that I hope will be all, apart from an order to Sainsburys.

My shoulder is gradually getting better so I hope that distracting discomfort will ease off in time: unfortunately the position I need to sit in to take notes is one that sets it off, so the sooner it gets better, the better!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Poor wee thing (well .... er ..... )

Last Wednesday morning at six am I was on my way to the bathroom when I found something soft but not squishy, firm but not hard .... so after I was done I had a look to see what it could be and found a sweet little baby rat, expired between bathroom and kitchen. He looked so innocent that I felt quite guilty as having caused his demise ... (well, for as long as it took me to remember that the main sewer runs through the garden just under the windows!) As I suspect that is his ancestral home, there is no way I want him and his family around my house!! I hope he is the last of them: I suspect he was driven to search for food by his mother having feasted on the baited stuff. Whether it was he or another of the brood that decided to use my bathroom as a dining room and left the turquoise stuff on the floor ....

For those of you that are busily thinking: YUCK!!! it was not nearly as horrid a feeling to pick up a baby rat as it was when I knelt down to shut the conservatory door one summer night and knelt on a slug .... which made a nasty squishy mess on my trousers: THAT felt really yucky! Though I did NOT pick up said rat in my bare hands ... and he had chosen the right morning to die as I could put him out with the rubbish that day (I'd rather have buried him in the garden, but ... and the foxes might have dug him up ... yuck!)

I hope that is the end of the saga of the rat(s).

Otherwise, I got the house ready for the osteopath to come and see to my shoulder. The person who normally helps my mother out has come to clean for me and the house looks fresher and cleaner than it has for months. Hopefully we can have a good go at it while my mother has full-time help. The osteopath came and had a good go at my shoulder: it still causes discomfort (and I am a bit tired of that) but she said it would take time, especially as I can't really rest it.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Now showing: Fatal attraction

My last post reported the intrusion of a rat into the house. I had arranged a visit from pest control: no show on Friday. I was booked in again for Monday: no show. This rat was getting more reprieves than an inmate on Death Row, and I was looking up the gestation period of the rat on the Internet to see how long before there was a horde scampering around ... given that it might have been in residence some time before I realised it was.

On Wednesday the rat man came at last. Agreed possible entry via hole near washing machine, but you never can tell. Put down trays of stuff that looked like turquoise green cat litter which is a grain-based poisoned bait, fortunately not critical if you come into contact with it so I don't have to be neurotic, just wash my hands as necessary. Informed how long it takes to get rid depends on how greedy the rat is - so I hope it is the sort that would eat a whole packet of biscuits in one go! Removed other possible attractions (chocolate) so it had no options. Trays going down so hope rat on way out. Technician will call again in two weeks to check progress. Meanwhile info he left informs me that a single rat is most often a pregnant female looking to start a new colony, litter size six, gestation three weeks ....


I guessed as much - even the three weeks. Internet said it could be one that had been chucked out of its original colony, which makes sense if it is a young male. Could be that the older, established one didn't like the competition.

Either way it is (creatura?) non grata.

Engineer has been to repair machine and discovered battery charger was faulty and was overcharging the batteries. Batteries and charger both damaged and so required replacement. Hope this marks end of saga, but will still look into more powerful alternative.

Am now noticing the early arrival of the dark evenings: by 4 pm it is nearly dark and I am not inclined to go out. That is why I study: it gives me something constructive and rewarding to do in the too-long days of winter. Hopefully this week I will be able to get going on it.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


It is two weeks since I blogged: allow one for that cold to work its way out, and you would imagine I have spent the last week getting some study done ....

the best laid plans o' mice and men ... or, in this case, rats and men. On Monday morning I came to the kitchen to get my breakfast to find a pile of shredded bread on the floor ... what on earth???? And my M+S bread looked as though someone had attacked it. I didn't look too closely and fished a more-or-less intact slice out of the pack. The next morning I found another pile of shredded bread: once may be a fluke (the bread is very soft and difficult to spread so I thought it had collapsed inwards) but twice is something else. Having been a bit early-morning dozy the first time, this time I looked for something else for my breakfast as I was pretty certain something was into my bread.

Somewhat of a mystery, as my kitchen floor is tiled on a concrete base, so reasonably proof against invasion. However, after I had made my chicken casserole I left the kitchen and as I did saw a nose poking under the door, followed by a creature bigger and darker than a mouse, which came out from behind my fridge and disappeared I know not where. My best mate, who has had rats in her kitchen, says it is small for a rat, but I think that is what it is. If it is a small one it will have brothers and sisters, if it is a big one it is old enough to have babies ... either way I do not want it, and still less its companions, scampering all over my kitchen floor.

I called the Council and made an appointment for the rat man to come. I thought of getting a trap or two, but I need expertise, because getting rid of one rat will not get to the bottom of it: I need to know where it's getting in so I can block the gap. It looks as though it's gnawed at the Artex near the washing machine, but there's no hole to see. After calling the rat man, I remembered there used to be a cupboard behind the units next to it, which was covered with a panel of hardboard when they fitted the kitchen ... that could be a handy place for a rat to make a home ... Just in case, I asked around after Mass for an odd-job/handyman who could see to the hole and might have found someone.

Added to this, on the last two Sundays my little scooter has suddenly lost power. Last Sunday I had to get a neighbour to push me home from the traffic lights at the end of the road, and this week I had to get a taxi home - with a very kind driver who gave me push up the ramp into the house - so he won't need to go to the gym this week! The machine has a persistent fault, it seems, and the engineer can't test it himself: I have to road test it myself. There is now a model of the same small machine with a bigger battery which might be worth investing in. The size is perfect for my trips to Birmingham as I can get it into a taxi and around the house when I get there, but I have always had to be careful to watch the battery gauge as it runs down fairly quickly (and is a mite optimistic, to boot!). Not due to the size of the machine as the previous one I used was the same size and I had more warning. A bigger battery would give me more range (enough for me not to have to curtail my shopping trips, I hope) and more warning.

If you have been patient enough to bear with me so far, here's the chance of a reward:

Hop over to

where there is blog candy up for grabs.

Friday, 6 November 2009

What the doctor ordered ... so very NOT!

The textbooks I had ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday - lovely new books and one looks fascinating. Unfortunately a cold came along too (definitely NOT on the plan!) and so I have a woolly head, which is not conducive to OT studies!

My shoulder still hurts a bit, so large scale practical work is not a good option (though if I could move enough stuff around to find another book it would be a help) and I have a sore thumb (so small scale practical work can only be done a little at a time).....

Annoying in the extreme! Neither facebook nor novels appeal (I'm ready to study) but I can't take any of the things that would clear my head because they aren't compatible with the stuff I have to take already .... frustration!!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Monday morning!

and there is a nip in the air there wasn't before!

Midday brought the post and the vital letter from Maryvale telling me my first year results. I am now officially second year!

My first year grade was a B, which was a bit disappointing as I would have liked it to be B+, but I think I fluffed those two exams and so reckon I have got my just deserts. I was just very tired and I am not that good at exams - I have too much of a tendency to waffle. In an essay I can edit it out and replace it with better, but exams don't allow you that luxury! My last three essays were B+ and one A-, the rest of the eight B, so I just didn't have the extra edge I needed.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Study calls!

I still have an iffy shoulder and I am still short of sleep! A loud THUD on the floor on Thursday heralded the arrival of the second year coursebooks and essay deadlines, so I will be hard at it as of Monday. I am already past the first deadline as I was doing exams, so I will have to give the more detailed work a miss: one thing I am determined not to do again is to have coursework outstanding at exam time!

One recommendation in the coursebook runs like this: "only recommended to those who relish the challenge of exploring the approaches of unadulterated modern German Biblical scholarship" Thus will be thorough, hard work and time-consuming, I have no doubt! If I were not already behind I might have been tempted ... but as I am ... see above (and no crocodile tears). I must get on to the Amazon site and find the more suitable alternatives. Ditto my OT history textbook ... where on earth is that??

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sleepyhead - still!

I am getting way too familiar with the output of the World Service! Sensible people are fast asleep under the duvet until at least 7.30, not awake at 5 am! At least I can now drop off during the day ... I am so glad I am shot of the little madam who was (not) doing my garden earlier in the year.

There is no way I would have allowed her anywhere near here once I started studying again, and I would have used the fact that I had course fees to pay to explain why I didn't want to spend any more. My family thought I would have fallen for her sob storiea but I had already made my mind up and would not have budged: she did not mix with study and that was that; I would not have been prepared to risk my studies for her silly nonsense.

Why do I mention her? Her successor came today and did the garden: we have bulbs planted front and back and as it has been warm and wet I hope they are growing nice and fat so they have a good chance of coming up in the Spring. I have not (yet) seen evidence of squirrels trying to dig them up and so hope they are safe; another advantage of the warmer weather just now might be that the squirrels have plenty to eat and don't need to raid my bulbs as they did the daffodils at home in the last years we were there. I await the arrival of the yellow crocuses to see if all I have done is provide a tasty snack for the birds: I would have got all purple ones, but I got a mixed box and that included yellow ones (which I love to see, but the birds love to eat!)

My shoulder is a little better, but will take at least three days to recover so no heaving things around for the moment.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The fat lady sings ....

I have not posted for ages, so a quick update as to events over the last month or so.

The exam nerves well and truly kicked in about ten days before the event and I spent the last vital week half asleep, with revision conspicuous by its absence. As a result, I changed the topics I was looking at and chose the ones that weren't so difficult to remember. It was a great help that the papers were just five straight questions with no restrictions on which you chose, and I am really glad I wasn't sitting Church History as the topics were horrid!

The matter was further complicated by the fact that Maryvale rang on the Wednesday to ask if I could alter my arrangements, as the room I use was needed for a priest who was lecturing the same weekend. So I spent some time sorting that. Next time I will make sure we find another solution: it really isn't practical for me to decamp to the hotel down the road as the ground floor accommodation is across the car park and down a steep slope for which my scooter is underpowered. I needed a push from members of the public to get to eat in the main building that night and, even in the morning when I had recharged the machine and it was at the height of its power, I only just got up there - by pushing the handlebars like you'd push a bike and throwing my body forward - not something I would want to risk in cold, wet weather!

Both stations were absolutely teeming on the Saturday morning and again when I came back on Monday. It's a good thing I wasn't needing to revise on the way back: lots of kids and lots of noise! I am now reading fiction that has nothing whatsoever to do with theology (unless you count the fact that it will free up some bookshelf space for the textbooks!).

The change in arrangements also meant that I had to do the exams on Sunday (what was that bit in the Penny Catechism about not doing servile work??) and because I was in transit between dwellings I missed Mass, too! Hopefully, the fact that I had changed my plans as an act of kindness to a sick priest will make it OK. By the time I actually got to do the exams, I was past caring if I passed or not and just wanted to get them over with for good or ill. Don't ask me how I did: there is no way of telling. Four answer books await the scrutiny of the examiners and the Exam Board meets on Wednesday. If the posties are on strike I will be hopping mad!

I am also hopping mad with whoever decreed that disabled loos should be way higher than ordinary ones: the grabrails are a help, but the extra height makes it very difficult for me. I know other people don't want to be low down, but you can get gadgets to raise the seat. If the seat is too high you're stuck with it (and I have a pulled muscle in my shoulder as a result). Hopefully that will right itself in a day or two - it usually does. So for the moment I don't dare be too active: my plans to sort things neglected out are on hold and the place is strewn with 'dead' coffee mugs: evidence of my preoccupations over the last little while!

Saturday, 26 September 2009


I keep waking up at 5.30 am and not getting back to sleep again ... not good! Tried a late afternoon siesta yesterday, but that didn't help. This usually means I am keyed up about something, but a month before the exams is a little too early for comfort ...

My mother is in Lewisham hospital with a liver infection - repeat performance of what happened last time I started studying ;) She is already much better than when she went in on Sunday night, but liver and kidney function still not right, so further investigations on the way. A scan had been ordered for Thursday and my sister spent Friday making sure it got done before Monday (which is when the X-ray department saw fit to schedule it): the consultant was unhappy, so it did get done. However, my sister spent nine hours there as my mother's minder, and it shouldn't take that to make it happen.

Ah well, back to the textbook ....

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Until further notice ...

New postings on this blog are liable to be sporadic .... until we change the clocks (!!) I should have my head well and truly down studying for those exams and time off is for keeping myself fed and watered ... time on line will have to be rationed to short breaks (with the possible exception of Masterchef - which I will download and watch in small doses last thing at night to relax).

I have spent way too much time web-hopping already - time to be out and about.

I have, however, bought my train ticket (one of those things that can take a large chunk of time because I first have to find how to work the system to avoid travelling across London). For some reason the general train sites were telling me there waa nothing doing for my return journey whereas Virgin found me my usual route through Watford. I have even discovered that I can travel via Reading on Sundays, which will save me money on the next residential as I won't have to stay at Maryvale overnight - hurrah! (Not that I mind, but it does cost me because it's not included in the fees .... ) I first have to get those exams behind me ....

so.... bye, bye for now!

Have now returned from the shops with ham for pasta carbonara next week. A quick dive into the charity shops yielded two slightly warmer garments and a new fleecier and more respectable fleece. For some time I have been looking for a replacement for my tatty old one (navy blue, with a broken zip) given to my by my ex-sister-in-law. I don't wear navy blue. It's not right for me, and given that I wear a lot of black, which looks better, it just looked as if I hadn't put it together properly. Now I have a pale blue one, which will be a good contrast to most of my jumpers (and I will show up better in the long dark nights, too). My old one feels much thinner, so I hope I will be warmer as well as smarter! If it gets grubby I can always wash it!

I am yawning my head off - time for a siesta!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Phew! (Exams!)


It remains to be seen whether that is: "Phew, I'm glad!", or "Phew, I'll never!" It is certainly: "Phew, I'm stunned!"

I rang the Institute this morning to be told the course director was anxious to speak to me and had been trying to reach me all yesterday. How I missed the calls I don't know: the only one I picked up was one from a pest of a business trying to sell me a mobility scooter (and I know they are rogues). When I eventually got through to him he suggested I sit the two exams outstanding at the October resits and then continue in second year. As I had been sure he would want me to repeat first year I was planning a gentle meander towards the first year residential next week and revising the first paper by doing the first term's assignments, preferably fairly quickly so that I could spend lots of time on the philosophy (which is the one where I am weakest).

Now I have to do what I would have taken two terms to do .... in a month! After he spoke to me I was in stunned mode (it will take me until Monday to make the mental re-adjustment to intensive study - and in particular to clear the decks of domestic tasks outstanding and actually find the textbook!) and have now moved into panic mode, big time!

When I have had a good night's sleep I will email him to ask for copies of the relevant exam papers: I fear I will have to do what I hate to do and work to the exam rather than learning the subject properly. If I pare it down to its bare bones, I only need four topics, two for each exam. That's one week for each ... still dangerous from a standing start when I haven't even opened a textbook for a year! And I am no good at cramming: too much and I can't remember any of it!

I need the exam papers: then I pick the questions on the topics I am homing in on and write bullet point answers to as many variants as I can. Otherwise I will end up reading everything and remembering nothing or, more likely and worse still, attempting to read everything (in a disorganised fashion and with no sense of purpose), remembering disjointed bits of everything and nothing that is enough for any one answer, leave alone getting it into something coherent on the day!

Well, tomorrow I know what to do - washing up and making a chicken casserole for next week and as much tidying up as I can bear to get done.

And first I need a good night's sleep ....

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fluffed it (twice?)!

I was hoping to get to my school reunion this year (it's a significant anniversary, so more people will be there). The mobility problem means (as usual) that it involves more hassle than just buying a ticket and turning up. Unfortunately I only realised today that I hadn't replied to the email from the organiser (I thought I had long since) and she had already given the numbers to the caterers, so I have missed the boat completely on that one. I have been more preoccupied with sorting the beginning of the college term (and again, fear I have fluffed that - too much lulled into complacency in August on both counts - as we have a new course director (again) I am not known and need references and all the ta-ra. Had to get requests hand delivered too, as I had forgotten the postal strikes were still happening: having been reported earlier, they had dropped out of the news).

I am definitely suffering from a lazy lack of motivation which I suspect to be a vicious circle: not stimulated by study so not bothered about anything; not bothered by anything so not motivated to study. Whatever happens I must do some study of some sort this year: it is all too true that if you pause for a year thinking you will do some reading, you get precious little done (though most of the 'undone'on the practical front, which is was I was hoping to do is due to not having the help of my best mate, who has been spending the year being treated for cancer - a drawn-out and gruelling process).

At least the garden is getting done - I may even have some bulbs in the Spring (though I don't feel the same sense of achievement as I did when I did it myself: I now don't have enough time, even if the digging was done and I could do a little).

Monday, 14 September 2009

crafting ....

these are three quick cards I did for one of the challenges on Crafts by Carolyn. I have so much cardmaking stuff and leaving it in the (many!) boxes is taking up way too much space! I hope I might be able to sell some for Maryvale who have a huge development project on the go and some for a much smaller one we have going at Church, to make the garden at the back of our premises more attractive. Both are causes dear to my heart.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Cards and ....

I have been busy with various (fairly mundane) things, among them making birthday cards for dates coming up soon: the one above is for my cousin (the sentiment shows up better than on the scan, as it catches the light - and the card isn't bent, either!) I did another, similar one for a fellow-cardmaker at the weekend (and scurried to post it without stopping to scan).

I went along to post a parcel yesterday and took advantage of my visit to the High Street to get some kitchen scales: the new flat ones take up very little space and are cheap at under a tenner, so I now have a second one to weigh things I am going to post. They closed the handy, nearby post office a year ago and the main one is right at the other end of the High Street; it's not on my way anywhere and I don't need to go as far as that for anything else, so if I can weigh things myself and put them in the post box it will be much less hassle. Likewise I now have a dedicated bucket for washing the kitchen floor, so I don't have to tip everything out of the other one first. (I take things around the house in a bucket rather than anything else - it's the easiest thing to carry and a convenient shape.)

Today I will take this card to the post on my way to Croydon to get clothes for the winter (tracky bums, as ever!) as they have a 20% discount day :) :) I actually remembered to post it and now have various colours of tracky bums for the winter, so that was a successful expedition. I just hope the post is quick; it usually is from here, but recently it's been really slow, most likely due to strikes - they never seem to mind inconveniencing everybody for their own ends. How come class warfare doesn't operate under just war theory?

Fellow-cardmakers: here is the lowdown on materials:

Main card - Imaginisce Trade Winds (a fave series)
Background flower - K+Co
Flower - petals - Sarah's cards, gold brad (and it was straight to start with!) Papermania
Sentiment - Royal and Langenickel rubon.

I have heard from my nephew (an i-tunes credit hit the right spot for his birthday :) ) and my niece is now back in Zimbabwe to work on various ongoing projects.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

fruit fly menace!

The leaking fruit juice attracted fruit flies: it is no more so WHY are there still fruit flies (in the loo! Surely they don't like Harpic!)

I am now on to Luther (familiar territory; in danger of being so familiar that one forgets essentials, but I should be able to get re-acquainted with them reasonably fast).

Friday, 4 September 2009

sticky study

More pfaffing around this morning: guess who forgot the washing up liquid ... and I had an urgent birthday card to get in the post, too. The persistent sticky patch on the kitchen floor has been traced back to long-forgotten fruit juice cartons leaking from the bottom (so not immediately obvious). I kept wiping up and it kept coming back ... and I didn't know what it was so was not a happy bunny. I obviously intended mixing pineapple and grapefruit juice for breakfast, but that got overtaken by medication :( and the juice left behind.

I have done some study and am now on to Luther, the aim being to revise those familiar topics (and as they are familiar I can see the broader picture, which adds perspective I didn't have before) so that once term starts I can put my energy into the bits that need it. (A persistent little voice repeats "metaphysics" at regular intervals, and that topic could keep me occupied for 12 months on its own!)

I have come to the conclusion you have to do the study first and everthing else round it: as an adult student you tend to think your duty is to other things first. If you do that the study gets squeezed out: it needs a decent chunk of time in one go, or you lose the thread of the argument. Other things (with the possible exception of cooking stew) are not likely to take as long and can be done for a break.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

frustration! and moans medical ....

I am trying (unsuccessfully) to get myself into a decent study routine. OK, let's be honest: some of it is down to too much pfaffing about. Only some of it, though (yes, really) - most of the rest is due to having to work my schedule around diuretic medication and its effects ... for some reason these are a bit drastic and getting serious study done when they necessitate a break every 20-30 minutes, and several of them, is really annoying; you've just got going with the argument and you have to break off again! Added to that I have to have a main meal when it's appropriate, not when I would most find convenient .... but it is a necessary evil, so somehow one must wangle. I can't think of anything that has changed to make the effects more acute, apart from having put on a bit of weight (which according to the Internet, can affect it, but only a bit). Maybe there is some critical tipping point at which weight increase causes more of a problem in various ways and this is one demonstration of it. Good for one's health it is not, so somehow I must lose my appetite (by design this time!) because that is what worked last time.

Study is a great help because it occupies your mind with something interesting so you don't have to resort to the biscuit tin. Now that I am used to the stress of assignments it's not a worry (until the summer exams, but they are not for a few months yet ;) so I have time to lose quite a bit first!) I really need to study: it gives me focus and purpose in a life which would otherwise be dull and boring (and I get a theology degree at the end of it, I hope!) The answer is that I probably need to be better organised so I can cook ahead and have something ready for a quick meal that is healthy and doesn't take too much time.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

rare event

I got as far as making a card today. I still have lots of cardmaking stuff lying around the sitting-room and among that was a card blank and some paper ... so I decided the two could be put together. I was going to make an ordinary card and then realised the design on the paper had holly leaves, so this is what happened:

The background is in fact darker and the gold catches the light, so the lettering shows up better than it looks on the scan. I might well do more similar ones, as I have at last found a use for that holly border (one of those things bought because it might come in useful but has never quite looked right anywhere, until now).

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

grey blanket

That's what the weather looks like outside, and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning I am not! In fact I am miffed because I woke up too early and didn't get back to sleep, so I'm short of it before I even start :(

Update for Friday: weather bright - self still short of sleep (own silly fault this time - late to bed!) gradually getting some study done but need to speed up on that. Nothing planned for Bank Holiday (except possible coffee and croissant breakfast) but sitting by the back door on a sunny day with some study on the go is a pretty good way to live: I like to study and it is my own choice to do so, so it's not like working on a day off. That said, you can feel you never get away from it (the wanna-be-theologian's work is never done) so this time around I hope to plan in a day off (probably Sunday) so I can come back to it fresh. The rest of my life needs a little attention too - as an adult student you don't have the luxury of a life cleared of everything else to leave you free to study and I need to be better at dovetailing it all in.

I've just recently noticed I have to switch lights on at about eight in the evening :( :( and that is not something to look forward to - a sad reminder that all too soon the long, cold, dark days of winter will be upon us. A month of it I could (just about) cope with, but one half of the year is definitely so cold and dark as to be a hassle (and sometimes the other half isn't as much better as one hoped). Mind you, it doesn't make that much difference to reading a textbook (unless it is as cold as it was last winter when I was still chilly with the heating on high)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

some achievements

I've just realised I left you with my scooter seat up in the air. If you've been wondering, it is now (sort-of) sorted: the seat is at the right height, but I can't get the notch that stops it moving to work; if that is right I can't adjust the height - a bit of a mystery as I know the engineer put an extra notch in the right place ... and it doesn't appear to be there!!

Fortunately, I had the young lady who comes to do the garden coming anyway, and she was able to move the seat so we could drop the height, rather than having the engineer come out again. The garden is the one thing that is getting under way: I am so glad to have someone to do it who has some initiative and knows when NOT to use it! She does what is important and doesn't impose her fancies on me - hurrah!

I had a phone call from the other little Madam, which I didn't bother to follow up. She often rings just as she is about to board a train, so I answer, only to be greeted by a brief hello and then the noise of train doors opening and closing (which these days is as noisy as ever as the local ones beep loudly just before the doors close). As there is an indicator board ON THE PLATFORM she must know the train is about to come in: it is so very typical that she just doesn't think it through and realise she hasn't time. So I don't call her back - I might just be tempted to give her a stern declaration that she is persona non grata, with an explanation if necessary! (Should it prove necessary to do so, I will.) She would doubtless be very miffed to know my garden is being well looked after by someone else and I don't fancy the snide remarks (though again, now, I'd have no hesitation in telling her what's what).

Update to progress of study: I spent this afternoon falling asleep over a textbook! Still, I must have learnt more than I would have if I hadn't even looked ... and most of this one will be revision, so should be easier to get done.

However, I have now realised I have two textbooks to read for one topic!! YIKES! Good thing it's the topic I know best already, so if I can restrain myself from taking too many notes (!) it should be possible to cover it quite quickly.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Holiday-time birthday

It's now a week since I reported. As life goes on much the same way, there's not always much to say .... This week I actually made two cards I had been meaning to make for ages. They were for a friend and her husband: he is partially sighted so I needed to think of something he could see easily, with bold colour contrasts. It was her birthday on Thursday, so I just had to get them done by then (and I did, but rushed to the post in so much of a hurry I forgot to scan them first - so, sorry, no piccies ;( ) .

Earlier on I had got a present ready for the birthday girl: she has had a really rough time for the past little while as her husband has been in and out of hospital with quite serious health crises. I had ordered the pressie some time ago and so it was there ready to be wrapped up in pretty paper and sent to get there the day before her birthday. :) As she is a fellow card-maker, it was a set of co-ordinated materials for making Christmass cards (yes, we really do start this early!) for the sale she usually has for charity in September. Unfortunately she won't be able to have one this year, as she's been very much preoccupied with visiting her husband in hospital until now, but who knows, she might squeeze one in later .... and I've heard from her that she is inspired by my pressie :) :)

So now you know why I couldn't tell you before now .... although I don't think she has had time to read blogs just recently I thought it best to keep stumm. Here is a piccie of the bits I sent:

The ribbons at the back don't show up very well because the scanner light has reflected on the plastic wrappings :( but it should give you some idea.

The time is fast approaching when I will be returning to study, and I am all too aware of all the things I meant to get done this year and haven't!! Some delay is due to my slow decision-making (I like to get it right so it takes ages!) but most is due to the fact that I know what I want to do but what is available/in fashion doesn't fit.

This afternoon is scheduled to be a study time The first course residential is a month away on Friday, so I have four weeks - and four textbooks I want to read - yikes! (That doesn't take account of the ones I could read ... )

Saturday, 15 August 2009


I have just been reminded today is the feast, but I won't be celebrating particularly as I haven't any way to do so. It's also the twentieth anniversary of my dad's funeral (after which it took me about three years to re-adjust to feast rather than funeral). What a lot of hurried arranging that took! We had all of five days, as my mum wanted the vicar to do it and he was going on holiday.

The scooter saga has not yet ended: the engineer left the seat too high and I am perched uncomfortably on it. Unfortunately I don't know how to adjust it and can't do it on my own ... but I will have to do something because all the angles are wrong and it digs into my thighs! It is just so annoying I didn't realise until I tried to get onto it several hours after he'd left.

Otherwise I have a birthday present to get wrapped and, still, my application to start studying again in September to sort: most done, but I have to collate the bits of information from three written texts so I don't inflict the same information on people twice (or, worse, three times!). My brain just does not want to play ball.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Back in business

For some time my scooter has developed a habit of disconnecting itself: it always has tended to when bumping up a kerb or onto the tram, and I just reconnected the key, likewise when it later took to doing it on the flat for no apparent reason. However, coming home from Mass on Saturday I had it do so and then had to spend ten minutes or so persuading it to start again - not something I want to happen when I'm crossing the road! (All too soon we will have colder weather and I don't want to be hanging around then, either!)

Fortunately I was on my way home from the Vigil Mass so hadn't to go out again. I rang the engineer on Monday and he came yesterday to fix it. He had to take it away because he said the chassis was bent (!!) and he would have to straighten things out. I cannot imagine how that could have happened: anything dramatic enough would have been something I would have felt (coming off a kerb at the wrong angle, say, would have de-stabilised the machine and I would have felt it tipping - mega-scary!) and remembered. I can only think that it might have been when I was going over a ridge for which the machine was overpowered and someone gave me a helping push: I am careful not to force the machine or go at an angle, but if someone gave a strong shove to one side and not the other, or maybe one of the little wheels at the back got caught ....

The net result was the manufacture of a new connection to the batteries as the one on the machine as it comes does have a tendency to disconnect: that is the advantage of having the engineer come and service it. I also have a new set of batteries so I can venture forth to the doctor and to Birmingham without fear of running out of steam. It's not so much that I run out of steam, but that if I am nearly doing so I don't get enough warning from the battery gauge: I have got stuck before (usually on the ramp up to the door). That is no joke if it is tipping it down or freezing cold: I have to get off and push it the last little bit up to the door. I have now got wise to the fact that the gauge errs very much on the optimistic side (most are pessimistically set) and I need to turn for home the moment it starts going down.

Otherwise I have done a little study (but must do much, much more) and have yet to send my application in to Maryvale ... and there is financial muddle to sort out, too. (Just how do you contact the CAB? I could do it on my own but as it involves officialdom I want to be sure to do it right)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Red letter day

My intentions to rein in the eating out didn't last long! I had a phone call from my niece to say was I free (on Wednesday) so we went out to lunch at a local small restaurant - both thought our meals delicious. Followed up with a dive into M+S where I had my first girlie shop and then went on to shop for food and finished up at a pub enjoying a cocktail in late afternoon.

It was a special treat to have time with Isabel: I could have spent much longer talking to her as we only skimmed over topics and her obserations are interesting.

I still need to get stuck into study: unfortunately I have discovered I will have to sort out a financial muddle, which will take too much time but must be done. I have yet to sort out a proper routine: practical before lunch, study afterwards and no swanning down the High Street!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Feast for priests

This year having been declared a Year for Priests and it being the feast day of St Jean Vianney (patron saint of priests) I turfed out to Mass this morning. I just about missed the rain afterwards by diving into Sainsbury's for necessary groceries and then had brunch and a coffee (on special offer at the coffee shop). Siesta and study next ...

Monday, 3 August 2009

Apple sauce!

I now have only half a glut of apples! :) Took some along after Mass yesterday: I had promised some to Fr Ashley (ex-Anglican assistant priest with a family to help him eat them ;) ) and some went to the person who often does coffees at evening meetings who (unlike me) has room in her freezer and time to make apple sauce. I had to wait quite a time to speak to her as she was rehearsing Schubert and I didn't want to interrupt. I waited until her accompanist had left (and therefore until the person who barged in to speak to her while he was still there had finished, too) but I got my reward in that my apples found a good home. It amazes me how garrulous women of a certain age will barge in to hijack your conversation ... I was taught better manners than that: one would have thought they might even have known the days when children were seen and not heard ... experience suggests otherwise. Fellow-customers at Sainsbury's were consequently 'treated' to me humming Heidenroslein as I collected my groceries ...

I went to Mass later in the day and afterwards had pizza (congratulations to Pizza Express for introducing a 'light' pizza!). How lazy can you get? Too lazy even to use the microwave at home it seems!! In my defence, I would have been delayed by having to wash up first and just didn't want to wait. That makes this last week one that has been way too expensive as regards eating out, due to the local summer festival and my own celebration of 31st July, but not to worry. This week will not continue in the same vein: I have to stay in and study!

For the moment I have to stay in one place as much as possible: I have pulled a muscle in my back/backside and it hurts when I move. So no flitting around the house doing this and that - sitting studying (and a dose of paracetamol and codeine) is just what it needs. I don't entirely understand why it's so bad as I haven't done anything particularly strenuous, but must have moved awkwardly somewhere along the line ....

There will be no distractions chatting to people either: the rest of the family are all away in France and out of contact (not even available on Facebook!) I only know what they are doing due to fb ....

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Digging without drama

The young lady who comes to do the garden now comes on Tuesdays - she is a great asset as she has enough initiative to get on with it and enough sense to ask me first when necessary. She took some of the spinach her predecessor left as I don't like it (the slugs do!!). I now no longer have an apple tree that touches the ground (but buckets of apples - and no room in the freezer!!) and no longer get a faceful of buddleia when I go down the path (not pleasant if the buddleia is wet and potentially dangerous if there are bees on it). I didn't want to cut it back while there were still flowers on it for the bees and butterflies to enjoy: I was delighted to see both a week or so back. Now the balance has shifted to mostly brown decay - the downside of both it and lilac.

There is still plenty to be done in the garden but gradually it is getting tidier. So much of what I had intended to do this year remains undone, in part the result of my best mate having had cancer and therefore having been out of action for most of the year so far (and most of the rest too, I suspect) and also in part due to the miserable weather (my get up and go is so much more there when it's sunny, and I can make a pleasant day out of going to see bathroom fittings or whatever). I wouldn't be at all surprised to see GPs inundated not only with swine flu but also with depression - three non-summers on the trot must have affected others as well as me. Getting back to study will help.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Goodbye, twice over

I have finished the book on the July 20th plot (a slim volume).

Yesterday was somewhat traumatic. I had a big filling fall out when I was ill a couple of years ago, following which the tooth gradually broke leaving only a little spike. When I eventually got to the dentist it was beyond repair and she said it should best come out. From time to time I got toothache but not so often it was a problem, so I let sleeping dogs lie (the more so as I and the dentist thought it would be a right awkward job getting it out - I wasn't looking forward to that at all!!) However, I mentioned it to her when she repaired a tooth last week, thinking to have it done in September. She booked me in for this week, so yesterday saw me en route for the dentist after a large early lunch (eating and drinking banned for three hours after the event!). I had a short time in the waiting room (until then I was not particularly nervous, but I dread to think what my blood pressure was doing once I got there .. ).

It all went much better than expected - a minimum of pulling and tugging and no alarming cracking noises. Paracetamol and codeine took care of the ache that came on when the anaesthetic wore off and by the middle of the night it had settled down (though now there is a twinge - so paracetamol tonight, I think, just to be sure it doesn't keep me awake)

The best thing is, it won't now surprise me at an inconvenient moment by aching like fury (what is it about toothache that is so penetrating?). It's always had a tendency to grumble and I didn't want it to do so at the wrong moment (like on the morning of an exam!) so once rid all I have to worry about is the philosophy ....

Unfortunately I'm still short of sleep as I woke up early and didn't get back to sleep :( Can't make that one out! Have at last removed all the passe fruit and veg from the kitchen, so hope the fruit flies will now take flight elsewhere. How come we never got them in the kitchen at home? I need a closed container for compostables but all I can find is a family sized one.

Short and sweet today - I'm yawning my head off so an early night!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Was planning an assault on the flab (yet again!) but got waylaid by eating at the local pub (half price food on Mondays ;) ) on my way to WHS for biros, where I picked up two books as well - one the book of the TV series by Lawrence Rees on the Allies and Stalin, the other written by the only surviving member of the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler. Both I'm glad to have: the TV series had so much detail I would have liked to watch it again, and the other (bought on the anniversary of the plot) will be a fascinating short read (even if I did fall asleep reading it last night!!) Redeemed my sins somewhat as I did not need any supper.

Otherwise, for my next book Henri Daniel-Rops on the Reformation is calling loud and clear!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Have been chilling most of this week. Must get my application finished and posted (trust the PO to go on strike just at the right moment!) and start studying - it is becoming urgent and the more I can do the better chance I have of getting through. Besides which, NOT studying leaves me feeling as though I've done nothing worthwhile ... yes I could sort out the house from top to bottom, BUT it is slow, soul-destroying work and best done in small doses with plenty else to fill the rest of the day. It would be nice to have the kitchen free of washing-up and the sitting room more-or-less presentable, so I can study most of the time and just top up the domestic as and when (M+S do the cooking when the study gets urgent!!) The conservatory door must be done as it is just too cold in winter (and therefore unnecessarily costly to heat the rest of the house) and the same goes for the bathroom. After that we will pause. It's a shame my break from studying, and therefore the time when I am at a loose end, comes just when the people who do things go on holiday: August would be the right time to organise such things.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Half alive???

Not updated for some time. The relationship between my modem and the Ethernet cable which came into its life along with Windows Vista has never been easy (lots of persuasion needed to get modem to recognise the connection, usually involving plugging and unplugging and/or wiggling of leads)and on Saturday it finally broke down: no amount of wiggling, waggling, plugging or unplugging would persuade my Inernet connection to work :( :(

Contacted Virgin, who said I needed a new modem and they would send same. Same is now up and running (obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this!!!) One thing is for sure, giving up Internet access for Lent would be impossible - I'd be so bad-tempered it would be misery for all around!! And I do actually need it as a means of communication and, sometimes, to get around the mobility problem: where I cannot easily go in person I can easily go online.

Other than pacing the floor and wondering what is happening in my absence, I have been sorting out my application to study in September. I have dawdled so much in First Year that my original application has lapsed: a bit embarrassing to have to contact my referees again, but if my case is convincing enough it should not be a worry - just have to get it sorted.

Dentist is done - but more to come. I have to return to have a tooth out: NOT NICE, but better than it flaring up at some inconvenient time (like the morning of a philosophy exam!!) which it has done more than once (thank heavens for paracetamol and codeine!). So there is a potential problem there which is better out of the way (and once I've been brave, that will, hopefully be IT).

Friday, 10 July 2009


The weather that is, not me! Haven't updated for some time, mainly because there's not much to report. The chicken salad lost its appeal (where have I heard 'must try harder' before?). In this case more accurately, must keep going long enough to get results! One thing I have noticed is that my ankles are not so flabby which has to be a good thing and means its easier to keep a check on the fluid retention.

Enough of the health problems - I am getting to sound like a little old lady swapping details with anyone in earshot ..... booooring! I have a slightly more unusual, though not uncommon, one at the moment: a filling gone AWOL :( Appointment with dentist organised, but have to wait till Monday to see if I will actually be able to get there - oh the joys of finding accessible transport!!). Still, the good news is that I will have to go to the dentist sooner rather than later, and so it will all be sorted by the time I next start at Brum in September.

More positively, I got myself a haircut and in the process of talking to the hairdresser about my wilting garden (how come that didn't include bindweed and ground elder???) discovered she has a daughter who is looking for work gardening to earn some money for uni. Daughter came on Wednesday,was polite, asked what I'd like done, and if I minded her using the strimmer on the sides, and got rid of the plants between me and the water tap. Hurrah! Her mum says she likes to be told what needs doing (so probably won't suit my mum) and so that suits me fine: there is so much bindweed and ground elder she only needs to know what they look like to be kept busy for weeks!! I don't need anyone with great knowledge at this stage (and her mum and mine both know what we don't if we get beyond that). The weather at the moment is too chilly for my liking, but just right for my carrots.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


I am liking the hot weather. One major advantage is that chicken salad actually becomes something you want to eat, so I am yet again making an attempt to lose some of myself: much needed! Strike while the weather's hot, so I decided on a kick start and to aim for a lower total than I am entitled to: that is hard work, because it doesn't give you much leeway (and the only option for lunch was tuna as all the sarnies were out of bounds). Unfortunately the weather will all too soon not only cool down, but turn cold (16C is NOT summer weather!!) although I'll be glad for the Maryvale people who are doing exams, it makes the chicken salad look a bit sparse.

I didn't sleep last night - it happens once in a while and usually means I am a little wound up about something and not even aware of it - a shame as it will probably be too hot for the rest of the week to sleep well: by that time the heat will have penetrated into the house.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


I now have Windows Mail up and running!

I have had this computer for 15 months and have been getting my emails direct from Virgin: OK as far as it goes, but they only stay on there for three months, and sometimes I want to keep them for longer (as I discovered when I wanted to reply to one from Christmass).

I thought Virgin must have, somewhere, the information on what settings to use for them. At last I found it! Not only that, but I managed to set it up and file all my emails in the appropriate place. That kept me busy for most of the afternoon, after which I went to M+S for some nibbles for the social meeting I was going to later in our church hall - the local branch of the Council for Christians and Jews (hurrah! something more interesting than the ubiquitous sausage roll on the menu! I have nothing against sausage rolls, in fact I like a good one, but they always seem to feature, big-time!) There were very few people there, and no smoked salmon :( (someone comes who obviously knows where to find some that is really good) but I enjoyed talking to the vicar of a local church, who was discussing liturgical practice with someone from the local synagogue - liturgical debate is not confined to the church ...

For someone who is a techno-dunce, I am quite proud to have got the nous to set up Windows Mail all on my own!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Artistic Stamper

The Artistic Stamper

This place has blog candy if you are into papercrafts. :)

At last, I have plucked up courage and rung the Course Secretary at Maryvale, who said I should ring back on Monday to speak to the new course director .... EEK! I was hoping she would just send me an application form .... My nervousness about going back is right here!! But then I won't be shot of that until the end of the academic year, whatever I do, and I have to remember I actually have nothing to lose: if he says no, then that will happen anyway and may be for the best, and not to act is to say no myself.

So first I will write an apologia, so I have my ideas straight. Jean says she is looking forward to me coming back, which is great.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Madam was supposed to contact me about removing her chest of drawers this evening and I have heard nothing ... not even a reason why she hasn't contacted me about it. It's no hassle keeping it but I want to get it sorted so that either she takes it or signs it over to me, and then I will be free of her meddling. On her last visit she was meddlesome, rude and bullying so she is definitely persona non grata around here!! If I had any doubts, after that she has well and truly cooked her goose!!

Otherwise, life is ticking along much as usual. I have not yet contacted Maryvale ... must do that soon so I can plan for next year, and still need to get sorted as concerns reading - sort out time and a place to do it.

My best mate had the operation she needed for ovarian cancer on Monday. No detailed news of how she is, but she was feeling well when she went in, and they didn't have to go as far as they thought they might in operating, so that is good news. What is not is that the chemo had not shrunk the tumour (every case I've read about where that happens has ended with a short respite and then a recurrence of the cancer, aggressively, after which treatment is unsuccessful and life comes to a quick end). Let's hope for something good: she had much more energy (enough to go swimming to get herself fit!!) and was able to eat more, which are both positive signs.

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Just dropping by to report that I have now discovered Facebook! Another place to hang out (and great potential for essay-ducking!!). From which you might rightly conclude that I am beginning to get geared up to start studying again. I've made contact with some friends from Maryvale, in particular one who acts as a contact between students and staff, especially when the Course Director has to be away. I am a little wary of going back, yet again, to first year (I am already notorious as the student who has been through first year a record number of times!) the more so as the course director has left and we have another new one, so I don't have the continuity with when I finished last time and with the course director who recommended I take a year out and re-apply, who also said that I am intellectually capable of the course.
I will just have to write a decent application and I've already got some ideas together on that; the friend I referred to above has already spoken to the Course Secretary and is looking forward to me coming back ....

so, COURAGE!! (which I fortunately don't have to exercise before Tuesday as Monday is the Course day off).

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Wet, wet, wet, very!

No, I'm not into retro music ... just describing my wait at the tram stop yesterday! The ten minutes I waited coincided exactly with a big black cloud being all too productive!! I had mistakenly decided that i) the tram was about to arrive (I must have just missed one, in fact.) ii) the cloud was going not coming - both of which mistaken conclusions led me to be at the tram stop rather than under cover. As a result I got soaked.

One object of the trip was to spend a voucher I had before it expired, which I did, but unfortunately not on precisely what I wanted - a top with some embroidery which would have been a change from plain t-shirts. They didn't have my size, so I got two more ordinary ones, one black (a girl can never have too many black t-shirts, and in the winter they come in handy as vests).

The other was to have a closer look at the new Waitrose. It doesn't have a great choice as it's only small. It is obviously geared up for the many office workers: the patisserie section is disappointing (cup cakes or cup cakes) with a larger section given over to filled baguettes, and it is the first supermarket I have been to where you can get a takeaway coffee. By this time my wet body was feeling chilly, too, so I had a mocha to warm up a bit (from Starbucks next door, so I could sit inside). Waitrose also, for some reason, has masses of fresh pasta and sauces to go with it, but not the smaller dry pasta I was wanting, nor much of a selection of ready meals. It has a huge space given over to tills, which does mean you get through the checkout quickly, but does not really have enough choice for a major shop: it's there for a useful top up on the way home and as such has a place.

Madam appeared on the scene to collect some things she had left in the conservatory: she literally cannot keep her hands off my garden and threw some gratuitous snide remarks at me along the way, so roll on next Wednesday when she is due to collect the pine chest. After that she will have no reason to be in contact (and if she tries, I will declare a pressing, urgent and irresistable interest in Aquinas, the Reformation or whatever!).

Now for some light relief:

What is the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?

The pigeon can still put a deposit on a new Ferrari.

Monday, 8 June 2009


My own silly fault - yawning my head off is the result of too much surfing in the wee small hours ;-) , but I have caught up with two people I wanted to contact: without online contact I'd be very isolated (and in the winter it beats going out in the cold to post a letter any time!).

I decided that as I was definitely NOT bright eyed and bushy-tailed, I would go into Croydon to return some trousers and mosey around a bit. Did the first and then had a look around Allders haberdashery (I spend way too much time looking for the ramps - they are tucked away behind things - and I fail to see the logic of putting haberdashery in the middle of pots and pans and toasters! Literally in the middle - go too far and you suddenly come upon the ironing boards or the bins!). However, I did find this for my friend Nicki, who makes the cushions:

Saturday, 6 June 2009


My niece is out in Zimbabwe working on projects to do with theatre out there: she being someone who is busy, busy, busy, I never manage to catch up with her first-hand ..... but I thought she must have a blog somewhere if I could only find it! Well, after meandering around Facebook, I found her wall and the blog ..... SO ......

Auntie is watching you!

I couldn't help smiling at the similarity of our blog headings - hers is ZimAntics, and a lot more interesting (I strongly suspect we also have a concern about drains in common .... my back garden might have reminded her of Zim townships until recently ..... although out there right now that is no laughing matter: she was visiting with people who were treating cholera patients, though she doesn't do that herself. The history of cholera in this country is testament to the importance of drains ... )

Time I stopped .... anyone would think I was obsessed by them!!

She is convinced of the importance of the arts (and in particular theatre) in effecting reconciliation of the tensions out there. As she has always loved theatre it is great that she can do what she loves and find it rewarding (if very challenging). That is a bug I never got. The English tuition I had at school was boooring in the extreme, with the result that I know (knew!) more of German and French literature than of my own, an omission I always mean to remedy sometime. I know it was the teaching wot didn't do it because the one year we got a decent teacher my marks went up - too bad that wasn't the O Level year: I might have passed it. As it is I'm more likely to read about the ideas through philosophy just now.

The other bug I never got is the Africa one. I just find that culture annoying, probably because over here it's out of context (I'm sure what I find too loud coming out of people's car windows doesn't sound nearly so loud in the open air with miles of bush around you). And I disagree more than a little with multiculturalism and political correctness. I was brought up to be polite and kind to everybody I met, and I will do that, and it is part of being so to be aware of what the other person might need (enough not to give Muslim visitors sausages for tea, at least!) but the extent to which other cultures appear more favoured than the majority one is way out of line. To favour any minority is surely as much to treat them as different as unjustified discrimination; if you favour a minority you are still singling them out as different. If resentment (or worse still, support for the BNP) is the result, it is hardly surprising. Add to this the fact that multiculturalism appears to mean "any culture so long as it not white, European and Christian" and it's not surprising there's a lot of ill-feeling around (and people who don't deserve it will suffer as a result).

Time I got off the soapbox! I was burning the (past) midnight oil catching up with Izzy last night: I have spent more of the wee small hours online than ever I spent partying or writing assignments!!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Job done!

I now no longer have an overflowing drain outside the bathroom/kitchen: man has come and cleared it out, removing two stones, twigs and loads of nasty sludge - the hardest part of the job was disposing of that. We suspect the stones had been on the drain covers, which otherwise fly away in the wind, being flimsy plastic, and got dislodged in a high wind. That would explain the blockage. It's also the first time it has had a pressure hose onto it so I suspect it's the cleanest it's been for years. I also got him to quote for the conservatory door, as I only have one quote so far.

While the builder was here I spent some time sorting things in the sitting-room (neglected for a while) so as to be near at hand. There's much to be done there still ... but first on the list is the washing up. (Neglected while out in Croydon, but I think it's happening faster than I create more.) Again I have done a job which I have been meaning to do for weeks - putting steriliser in the washing up bowl. Soaking tin cans leaves a nasty grey residue, and the steriliser bleaches it. Given that I often have washing up soaking in there, sterilizing is something that's a good idea for itself.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Spent too much in Croydon yesterday, but I did get trousers!! Several pairs (so I am set up for a while) which will cover scorching (shorts, worn with a skirt over them outside the house), middling (crinkle cropped), and chilly (lightweight tracky bums). Also grabbed a thicker weight pair of tracky bums as it was there, in short length and in my size (and, sure as God made little green apples, if I went specially to get, wouldn't be!!).

The shorts/skirt combination will be interesting ... I got bigger shorts than the skirts I got last year (guess who got bigger?) and the skirts go over the shorts ... !! I also got a pair of light lime green trousers which I just couldn't resist, and two tops, one to go with them and one extra. This time I got wise and got pure cotton as cotton polyester always goes into little bobbles and looks manky by the end of the summer. Theoretically I could get skirts in the sales, but I always manage to miss them, mainly because I can never get my head round the shops getting rid of their summer stock just as the weather gets warm enough for it to be worth buying it! And last year I was probably engaged in a frantic catch-up on the coursework at the crucial moment!

Came home in a packed tram (someone forgot that the Tax Office at East Croydon tips out at 4.45 ;-) and got entertained by office gossip (hadn't a clue what it was about, but more interesting by far than whining kids). So I now know there are people in the Tax Office who live here (as it was only just on 5 pm, that's the most likely of the many offices as they finish earlier).

And this year, I haven't had to do a Tax Return, so I could even smile at them ;-)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Summer delayed

Went to Croydon for summer trousers (only have thick tracky bums at the moment) could not find what I really wanted so made do with one pair to have something: checked the long-range forecast to find that the change to colder weather coming on Wednesday will last a while. :-(( So no need to hurry, I can wait for the ones I like to come back in at M+S or order online.
Wesley Owen did not have what I wanted in stock, and I discovered British Bookshops have shut down - that's two of my fave craft places gone in six months ....

Just as well I ordered the books I need to study from Amazon. They will arrive to keep me busy while the weather reverts to April - most depressing - we're owed two summers this year (and next, but I've exams next year so I want them now!)

I am still getting used to being able to choose what I do and not being bullied into it - and that after only two months - just shows how much it was high time she went. There is no way I could study with her around and that I need to do.

Having a year off was right, but it has had me realise that I do need that focus otherwise I focus on all the things I would love to do but can't, on the sad decline in health (comparitively: I am comparing having an ongoing health problem and having to take medication for it with not having been ill for 30 years; some people have to take insulin or whatever all their lives). That said, most people of my age can still look forward to exciting travel and exploration: mobility problems mean my love of meandering around historic buildings (my favourite exploring) is frustrated.

Study is something I can do, satisfies my need to explore (there's plenty of reading matter out there!!) and at the end of it I might have achieved something: a good degree. I can actually study better than when I was a student first time around: I did not average B+ for assignments in those days!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunny Sunday

Weather forecast promised a scorcher, but it's now revised. That's the bad news: the good is that it's much more even, so Tuesday is not going to be as cold (but why do we still have an East wind??).

It is so nice to have enough peace and quiet to get things done. I read Ann Widdecombe's two books (Act of Treachery and Act of Peace) this week, after hearing her at our local Arts Festival, and now I will go out for an early lunch, so more later.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Catch up!

How good it is to be able to catch up on some of the tasks I have neglected over the past few weeks!!

There is still washing up! (As I live alone I leave washing up for a while so I can get stuck in to a stack rather than using water, soap and time in dribs and drabs, so there is often some to be done). At least I can plan when to do it (while lunch is cooking) without being required to deal with the garden! I have scarcely had time even to cook over the last two weeks, as I have had to accommodate Madam's whims - it does need intensive work, but from someone I can trust to get on with it most of the time without my having to argue about it!!

Two long-standing jobs have been done: I have removed out of date stuff from the fridge and on to dustbin and have also, at last, made contact with someone about the drain which has been overflowing for weeks (every time I remembered to do it, it was the wrong time of day to ring, or the weather was not right - freezing or throwing it down). He thinks it might need more than he can do, but he knows a man with rods, so that is under way. I can also have him free up the outside tap.

I had promised to send a wedding present to a friend of the family from both me and my mother. When I looked at the invitation again in order to answer it, it occurred to me that it might well be an announcement rather than an invitation. So I rang my sister to ask if she wanted to add herself to the wedding present, and checked. It was indeed an announcement, so it makes more sense for my sister to send the joint present (and she already has Euros) and I will send a card. One more task outstanding off the list!

Next week I must ring college (about study next year), and get on with sorting conservatory door and bathroom. September is not so far away, so I need to get into a decent routine of study (and one thing is for sure, Madam and study would have been totally incompatible!! And should she even think of dropping by, I will have plenty of study needing doing ;-) thus a very good reason to say goodbye straight away!). When my brother dropped by on Monday he said: "Being the end of the month, I presume you have an essay due .... " As I have taken a year out, no, but he's got the message!

Friday, 29 May 2009


Haven't updated for some time, during which events have moved on, to what looks like a successful conclusion.

Started the Monday speaking to sister about Madam; sister pointed out that I could not follow up anything she had told me. She and brother, who was over visiting mum, appeared at the door around lunchtime, so I sent Madam off to get supplies (she took forever to go!) while we put our heads together, and decided she must go, NOW, and forever. (They were worried she might be a risk: I don't think she is dangerous or malicious, just has a tendency to take advantage, and somehow make out that you are in the wrong if you disagree with her - besides knowing less about gardening than I do, and much less than she made out.)

Altogether more hassle than help! And I have enough hassle in the ordinary way, thank you!

My sister stayed until she came back, and she somehow got into an argument with my sister, which I let run so my sister could see the way she acts. She was downright rude, and finished by leaving to go to see a place she might rent. That left us free to pack up her stuff (including another load of washing!!!) and leave it where she could fetch it. The weather was cold and wet, so the washing could not be dried (and typically, she had not thought that through: a look at the weather forecast should have had her realise that it might well not dry in the conservatory as it had the first time).

I don't know that I ever actually said she had outlived her usefulness, and I couldn't hear all my sister and she said, but I/we have drawn the line on her doing the garden. When she rang to collect her things, I said I was sorry it hadn't worked out. She has a pine chest of drawers in my sitting room ('parked' in an earlier move when she hadn't room for it) and I have told her I want that out of the house asap. Fortunately she is missing it a bit, and so I could ask her to take it away. She tried to say her future was uncertain (implying she might want me to hang on to it??). I said very firmly that I wanted all the ends tied up, and therefore would she collect it as soon as possible: charity shops will collect from your house if you ask, so if she moves on it does not need to stay here!!

I do not want sight of her or her belongings again!! She had the cheek to inform me her washing was wet and heavy - what did she expect me to do? I have very little space even to dry my own laundry! She also said: "I thought you'd like some fresh vegetables, but you prefer to get them from Sainsbury's in plastic bags!" when I asked her to take what she could use of the ones she had planted. It is typical of her that she worded it so it showed her in the right and me in the wrong, besides completely ignoring the fact that she got the seeds to use with kids she thought she would be teaching and then used my garden to keep them going!!

Again, I don't think she is malicious: she just does not think things through and re-invents life to suit her (was there ever a likelihood of her teaching those kids, however much she wanted to?). I think she wants life so much to turn out how she would like it to be rather than how it is, that she takes as real a vague possibility, imagines that she can do something she would like to be able to do (designing my garden!) so vividly that she loses the distinction between reality and imagination.

I wonder if it's manic depression ... I know that's an older term, but it describes very well her capacity for grand ideas (or even little ones, like getting washing dry!) that are in fact totally impracticable, and might account for her capacity to rush at things without thinking them through, too.

My impression of her is certainly of someone who is always rushing from one thing to another and never staying still, which again would fit the manic, and most of her rushing is to meetings/demos of eco/feminist groups rather than anything more practical (like volunteering in a charity shop).

Sister also remarked that her fear about Madam was that she would somehow worm her way into the house and stay: not as likely as she thought as my experience with Maggie (who started well and ended up bossy) has made me very wary of having anybody else under my roof for long, and I had already decided that I would not let her stay the night again. She had the cheek to suggest, re the chest of drawers, that as I was in such close contact with my family, I should get one of them to move it!

I cannot believe her nerve!! She would probably claim she did me a favour in lending it to me: from what she said at the time, she needed somewhere to store it as she was moving to a place where she had not room for it. Anyway, brother is too far away and sister has hurt her foot, so she can forget using them!! I can see I will have to chivvy to get rid of it, but get rid I will!!

One friend on CBC remarked that I had the patience of a saint and she was surprised I had not resorted to GBH over this woman. There is a wealth of indignant exclamation marks, and I have come within a nanosecond of yelling at her: "THINK, YOU SILLY LITTLE GIRL!!" loud enough to be heard right across London! I wondered where that impulse had come from, and realised it probably dates right back to reading the Jennings books and the description from them of: "You silly little boy!" (though I don't remember any more than that).

Crikey! This is a long one, and if you have got as far as this I have indeed tried your patience. Thanks for your company.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Holiday weekend

Holiday from Madam, that is (it's also a public holiday this weekend). She rang on Friday to ask what the weather was like here: it did not take me long to suss the subtext of that one; the plants might need water and she was checking up on me. They didn't get it until today, by which time the lobelia looked a bit sad - limp and lying flat in the tray. Even allowing for its being trailing lobelia I wonder if it will recover. Everything else appears OK (though I will be in the doghouse if it is not swamped). The veggies probably need more water than I had for them so I must get the hose up and running again. It is so much easier just to spray everything and, if you stand and do it rather than leaving it running, not too wasteful. After two non-existant summers hosepipe bans will be the fault of Thames Water leaks not people watering gardens!!

Uh-oh .... she's back! Someone has been trying to get me on the phone: eating late lunch first time, late for Mass second time, and the phone has just gone again .... looks like I'll have to see what's up ... if I don't, I will get an angry enquiry as to why she is the one who always has to ring (because I want a bit of peace and quiet!!) ... I have spent the last little while debating whether I can leave the plants a little longer for water and stretch out the respite for a few more hours ..... but three attempts to make contact is as much as I can stretch, I think.

If I could just persuade her to dig, remove weeds resulting from same, water and plant as agreed and no more she could be so useful to help me get things going again .... but the game is not worth the candle.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


More hassles with the garden - gradually more earth is showing as the ground elder disappears BUT she who is doing it will not confine herself within her competence .... grrrrrr! We now have (yet more) unsuitable compost! Partly my fault, because I told her of the stuff in Sainsburys. At which she got not the one bag (to try) but two (why, as we already have masses of ordinary compost from her last trip?) and then decided it was no more suitable than the other. She then appeared with two large 'drawers' made of plastic covered wire mesh, into which she proposed putting earth, which she thought would bring the level of the earth up to that of the ramp, thinking I could then lean over to water the plants more easily. I can water the plants quite well enough already: what is stopping me is not the level of the garden but the lack of both garden tap and hose, which need attending to. The mesh baskets will, anyway, look completely out of place: my garden is designed with gently curved spaces, and they are square. Besides which, plastic covered wire mesh looks manky after a short while, as the plastic breaks apart and falls off (which will cause far more bother than watering the plants, as it will, somehow, have to be removed). But no, raised beds are what I should have and therefore she is determined to put them there. I allowed her to put lettuces in one, as she has got some seedlings which need transplanting, and I can remove that one once the season is over. She also has carrots in a planter (same plan as lettuces). However, we still have the other basket to 'negotiate'! So I will have to think of an idea for that one, fast! Eventually they may well come in much more useful to protect young plants from the birds (or the weather, with something draped over them). And still my little seedlings are drowned in water .... I know they need a fair amount when they are young, but ....

The garden does need a fundamental rethink so that I can get to the things that need attention, and so that where I can't get to is arranged for minimum attention, but I need an experienced person to do that, not someone who muddles along on the strength of once having been taught less than I already know (or so it seems!).

Fundamentally, I am trying to confine her activities to what I can easily reverse: I think those baskets are small enough for a bloke to be able to move them elsewhere, and as I haven't got a veg patch organised it's fair enough to put the lettuce in there where I can reach to pick it. I will have to have stern words with her in due course, to disabuse her of the idea that she is 'designing' my garden. When she originally proposed working on it she was planning to do a course and thought it might be a suitable project for a practical. I should have refused then, but the garden did need attention, and I thought something might be achieved under suitable supervison (though I did wonder whether I would pretty soon be on the phone to her tutor to discuss the way she was working ... ). Without experience behind her and some input to rein in what she does not think through properly in her enthusiasm (sense should surely have told her to get one bag of compost at a time, given it was one we had not used before) there is no way this will work long-term.

Added to which she flounced into the house, in a huff for some reason, saying; "Well, I'd better get on with my washing so that I don't have a completely wasted journey!", and promptly proceeded to put her washing in my machine, only stopping to ask if I had anything in there already!!! (I had actually been planning to put my own load in ... ). I thought that should not go unquestioned, so once she had done the washing I asked her why she had seen fit to do it here rather than in her own place. Her answer was that it was cheaper than the launderette!!

Even allowing for the fact that she might consider herself a friend as well as an employee, that is a bit of a cheek!! All in all, she is too much in the habit of taking liberties, whether with my garden or anything else ...... and I share the family tendency to give someone the benefit of the doubt and avoid confrontation. I would very much like to lose my temper and have some real fireworks!! Only then would I say what I really think (which I think is not unreasonable) and if she then flounced off so much the better. I must first see if I can find someone else to take over, as the garden does need looking after. I think it is not unreasonable to point out that what I may have thought possible under supervision is not possible now that is not the case. And still there is plenty of ground elder which she could turn her mind to getting out: that she can do.

If your patience has not been so sorely tried that you have given up reading long since, you will be wondering where the respite comes in: she has gone to Edinburgh for three days. HURRAH!!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Early bird!

What am I doing here at 6.30 am??? Sending a message to my friend on C by C who's doing the Moonwalk right now! Reckon she'll need the encouragement at this stage! Then back under the duvet! :-)

Back later ....

didn't get back to sleep :-( so had another short night. Well, at worst I'll fall asleep reading later on ... My lavender bushes are not going to arrive - had an email from Homebase to say they had not come up to scratch and therefore would not be dispatched - shame! Might get some marigolds instead, as they have the reputation of being good for keeping beasties away (though I'll believe that includes slugs sometime the other side of eternity!!). They might just do for the greenfly, better than chemicals if they do.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Getting my hands dirty ...

In an effort to direct the person I have digging the garden, I had ordered some plants. (If I have something definite in mind for her to do it might stop her flights of fancy .... ) They arrived on Wednesday, so yesterday she arrived (after having told me off for not contacting her at once: I didn't because I was busy and knew I needed some time to see to them). She then proceeded to inform me that they would be OK planted in ericacious compost (the nearest we had to suitable, but earth might have done better). I did at least persuade her to mix some earth with it, but she still mixed it 50/50 where I would have thought about a third was as much as was wise. She then proceeded to press-gang me into potting them up (hence the dirty hands) which I don't mind, but for the fact that she then bullied me as to how to do it. Yes, I know they need water, but the earth I was using was quite moist and I was going to water the pots once I'd finished: I know young plants are thirsty, but they don't need a flood (and my conservatory floor certainly doesn't!). She is just far too hasty (not to speak of thinking she knows everything: I had suggested we might need appropriate compost for young plants when she went to get some, and she dismissed that as unecessary). When I explained I was intending watering them when I had got them in, she nearly screamed at me: "You think because you were a teacher you know everything! Well in this case it's your turn to learn!"

I am the first to admit I know next to nothing about gardening, but it appears I have picked up the odd thing here and there (probably from a combination of my family gardening every weekend and my eating Sunday lunch while Gardeners' Question Time is on in my own place!). Madam knows a little, maybe (though I begin to wonder .. ) and thinks she knows it all. Such people really are most awkward to deal with: her only virtue is that she knows what ground elder looks like and she can dig - I just wish she'd confine herself to getting the ground elder out because there's plenty of it!!

I am at a disadvantage because I have never dealt with plug plants, and don't remember my mother using them either. Next year I will definitely go for larger plants that can go straight in - less work, and I have some idea what to do! These came as 76 or nowt, which if you get 4 varieties is an awful lot of little plants needing looking after!! My sister took some when she came, to share with my mother, so I hope some of them will survive!

Must go to the post office .... and then get my hands dirty again with some more wee plants ....

Errand to post office (and pub lunch) accomplished. The second was in celebration of the anniversary of my reception into the Church (no, you are not getting numbers). Did some shopping on the way home, and discovered the local ironmonger doesn't do much garden stuff (and I forgot the loo rolls .... so might need another trip tomorrow). Update: loo rolls purchased on the way home from Mass, ditto seed trays in case I run out of pots and I have discovered Sainsburys has organic compost, so if it is not too heavy I might be able to get some as and when I need it, or even ask Rosie next time she's in there, as she has a car and goes anyway. Have since checked and I can only just lift it, so one for the car rather than my scooter basket, methinks .....

Monday, 11 May 2009

Arts and crafts

The local Anglican church (the original town church) hosts an annual Arts Festival, during which some local craftsmen show their wares. Most of them are ladies who craft, and two of them produce lovely jewellery. I fell for some of that, as you can see from the piccie above: the top two are for my niece and the other one is for my sister. They both have birthdays in the summer; one in June, the other in August. I have just realised I have a sister-in-law to buy for, too, so I'm not done yet!

One lady, an art teacher, was exhibiting embroidered pictures, and I fell for one inspired by the Mackintosh rose. When I went back today to have another look, I decided I preferred the bluebell pictures she does - there's more detail and more perspective, beside which the rose looks a bit 'flat' (I don't mean by that any adverse comment on the design: it could not be otherwise). I'd like both, but however much I love the craftsmanship, at £145 for the bluebells and £90 for the Mackintosh, I'd have to think seriously before buying either one, and both is well beyond reach, however much I would love to have my own work of art.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Domestic .... bliss??

Chance would be a fine thing!! Today I hope to make a card for the 5-a-day challenge over on C by C - I have something that will fit the bill, the difficulty will be finding a way to use it. (If I succeed, I'll add a piccie.)

I forgot to mention that yesterday I actually had the rubbish ready the night before (there was enough room in the dustbin, too), so no unholy rushing around before breakfast, for once!! Then I remembered Monday had been a Bank Holiday and they won't collect until today, anyway!!

This morning it has been raining, so I will have a rest from seeing to the garden :-) and better still, the little seedlings will not need water :-) :-)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

More of the same (again) .....

I have not updated for some time: there is a limit to the number of times I can inflict the squeaks and creaks of my somewhat malfunctioning body and the fits and starts of my domestic affairs on blogland!!

With regard to the first: knee much better, shoulder still creaking (but that always does take longer to respond). With regard to the second: sorting paused, much spending on garden. Digging and cultivating is in the hands of a somewhat capricious person, who has ambitions after garden design and therefore way too many ideas without, necessarily, the knowledge to put them into practice. I wish she would confine herself to digging out the ground elder (which she is capable of doing and I am not). Yesterday I dispatched her to the garden centre and she returned by taxi (necessary expense given that she was bringing back compost for the garden). What was an unneccessary expense was the purchase of organic compost for the whole garden: this may have been my fault as I had agreed to it for the veggie seedlings she is nurturing, and maybe did not make it clear that I did not intend using it for the lot!! Given that she is terribly eco-conscious I should have seen that coming .... I am not that much fussed about what I put my flowers into - I am not going to eat them, so whatever gives them a bit of a boost will suffice. So I spent more than I had reckoned on, which is annoying, but not so much so if you consider that is the first time I have spent out for compost in the whole time I have been here (apart from an odd bag to plant some things my mother bought for the garden). I have ordered lots of little plants for the edges of the garden (where there is some hope that I will be able to reach them with water ...... ). I chose those things I know can cope with lack of water, just in case the summer is good (and to take account of the likelihood of my getting round to watering!!) and they will give a little colour so there is something else to look at apart from the weeds.

I would like to get the garden properly planned by someone qualified to do so (that would be an expense, but worth it in the long run, although I need to find out just how much expense .... ). Unfortunately the young lady takes this as a slight on her capabilities and protests that she did do a six-month course some ten or so years ago. She does indeed intend doing a garden design course, and suggested my garden was ripe for her to use as a demonstration of her skills. However, she is not doing so now, and whereas I might have been happy for her to go ahead if she were (and I would have made sure she would be well supervised by an experienced tutor before I finally let her loose!) I really don't think she has the knowledge to do it. Unfortunately, like many, she is not aware of her own shortcomings: she has enough knowledge to think she knows it all without enough to keep her out of trouble. She also, infuriatingly, dismisses any knowledge I might have as not worth consideration. While I would be the first to admit that I scarcely know which way up to put a plant, I do have the advantage of having had a mother who was a keen gardener and from whom I have acquired a little knowledge ....