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Two long-standing jobs have been done: I have removed out of date stuff from the fridge and on to dustbin and have also, at last, made contact with someone about the drain which has been overflowing for weeks (every time I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 ....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Domesticity reigns!

I had hoped to deliver the Marie Curie cards to a fairly local craft shop, and gave them to a friend to take over (as it's on her way home) only to find that they should have been posted to the organisers direct .... and they don't have a freepost address. I will gladly make cards for a good cause, but if a firm are sponsoring it I would have expected them to arrange postage: I had assumed they would collect the cards from the same outlets as they had used to distribute the plastic sleeves for the cards, but no.

I have treated myself to a number of the distress inks (from a member of C by C who had them surplus to requirements) and meanwhile have been sorting my craft stuff - a long process! Necessary in this case because it was all over the sitting-room floor and my arm needed another go from the osteopath (who comes to me as it's awkward for me to get to her, and finds it easiest to work on the floor). So now the stuff is sorted in a general way (card, papers, peel-offs, stickers etc. all have their appointed place) but the fine-tuning is still to be done (embellishments need to be sorted by type, and the same goes for the peel-offs, of which I hope to have a whole lot less fairly soon!).

After the osteopath's previous visit I wondered why my knee was twingeing, as she had not worked on it to such an extent that it should. It was only when I did the second stint of tidying that I realised that all that kneeling on the floor (it's the only space large enough when I have lots of sorting to do) would have been quite enough to stress it out, particularly as I had no time to stop - the state the place was in I had to keep going till it was done!). So I asked her to work on that as well as my shoulder: result - Friday night I could hardly move! My knees ached like they were seriously bruised.

And all big sorting is banned for the immediate future! (Fortunately I can do the more detailed sorting sitting as I only do a part of the stuff at any one time.) And any tidying only to be done in small doses - hurrah! When I get back to studying I plan to spend the morning dealing with things domestic (I am not a morning person!) study in the afternoons, and make cards at the end of the day (nice relaxation before I go to sleep). That's the theory, anyway! ;-) There are sure to be diversions (shopping expeditions to Croydon!) and if I am due to hand in an assignment I will be studying all day for a week, without a doubt! I'd like to have Sunday off, too, as I think it's good to have a complete break as it can get to feel like a drudge, instead of the pleasure it really is, if you don't. One result of my enforced (and necessary) break is that I know now that I study because, fundamentally, I enjoy it, not just to prove a point or to give me something to do.