Saturday, 30 January 2010

It's been a While so................

Well, when I got up this morning there was a dusting of snow.  Just a dusting, it was.  So little, in fact, I wondered if it might just be a hard frost.  No, snow it turned out to be and it was c-o-l-d..  Now it's lovely sunshine and the snow dust has all gone.  Pity really as we had promised ourselves a trip to the Farmers' Market a few miles away to look at the pinched faces and frozen breath of the stall holders.  The laugh was on us:  the market was LAST Saturday!

I did a Very Brave Thing yesterday:  downloaded Skype.  Technophobia kicked in big time as the mere word "download" scares the pants off me.  "So simple,"  said my sister, airily, many times.  "We can keep in touch even better," said my German friend Heike "And for free! Dead easy."  So, in for a penny in for a pound, and it did indeed turn out to be easy. There was just a little thing right at the start that was puzzling me so I thought I'd ask sis.  "Oh, I don't know," she said, "Our Kate (her daughter) did mine...."  Ha!  so anyway, I just ploughed on.  Having installed it I decided to give Heike a video call just to see if I could.  Well I could see her but she couldn't see me and  I wondered why that was.  "Oh, I don't know," she said (huh?  Deja-vu here!) "I'll get Julius (her son)..........".  Now I'm wondering what it is about being past 50 that causes the brain to go into meltdown at the mention of Technology.  Or why computers decline to co-operate.

Keith is beavering away right this minute redecorating our bedroom.  I would cook him some lunch but I don't want to interrupt or else the new carpet will arrive before he gets done.  I don't know how to tell our poor old Sally that she has to sleep somewhere else when her dad has finished the job.  Unless she can promise me that not one hair of hers will make contact with the carpet.

Which reminds me, speaking of Sally, she had her annual vet check last Tuesday and was declared in good nick for her age.  All the 38 years we've been married we've had dogs.  Only ever one at a time because we never had the space for more.

First there was Shan, a dobermann who only lived to 2 years old.  His rear end became paralysed and he couldn't walk.  In those days, the early 70's, we in this country persisted in the barbaric practise of tail docking where breed standard called for it.  And in the case of dobermanns it did.  That's what the vet believed started Shan's paralysis:  an infection of his spinal cord which had lain dormant since his tail was removed.  We never again had anything but waggy tails in our house.

After Shan came Juggy Singh, a big German Shepherd who came to us complete with heavy metal chain, thick, iron-studded leather collar and green-slimey aluminium bucket to drink from.  A Sikh bloke Keith worked with turned up on our doorstep and gave us the lot saying "You like dog, you have him," before turning on his heel and driving off.  With his half a dozen kids and assorrted grandparents and aunties all living in the same 2-bedroomed house, the only place Juggy had was a much too tiny kennel in the tiny concrete backyard.  I know about the kennel because the ex-dad came back next day and dumped it!  Well, it did for firewood!  What else could we do?  Juggy became a wonderful friend, companiion and beloved protector and died 8 years later.

Sophie was a 7 week old yellow labrador puppy who joined  us on 7th January 1979, my birthday.  Just shows how good Keith is at keepimg secrets:  he had chosen Sophie the previous November when she first came into the world but never mentioned it until he turned up at my office to collect me and said he had "brought a friend to see me too" and produced this tiny, fast-asleep ball of fur from inside his coat.  She was always a silly bundle of laughs.  Her hobby was collecting things.  I would put socks on the radiator to dry on washday and she would take a big sweep along the radiator and run round the garden with a load of socks sprouting from the sides of her mouth.  Unfortunately she decided one day to 'collect' a tee shirt, unbeknown to me.  I saw her straining in the back garden (this is horrible, this) and I could see something just hanging under her tail.(I told you it was horrible) and when I investigated I pulled out (don't say I didn't warn you) not the handkerchief I thought it was but a whole tee shirt.  How on earth she got that lot down we'll never know and what damage it could have done I shudder to think but she was none the worse for it.

Sheppy was another soon-to-be-homeless waif.  Again, it was somebody Keith worked with who owned him (he worked with some funny folk).  Sophie had died not long since and I had said, as you do, that I didn't want any more dogs.  Losing them was too hard.  Keith said "Well we'll just go see this dog....NOT TO BRING IT HOME, no, no, no...."  Famous last words!  We went to where he was about to be chucked out of and there he was - the most gorgeous rough collie (Lassie dog).  His dad was a little guy only about 5'3" whhile his mum was tall and willowy.  She had decided taking this powder puff (her words) out for a walk was not good for his image a\nd she wanted him to have a nice fierce Rottie.  And a tatoo.  But it soon transpired there was another reason:  Sheppy was a killer!  Oh yes  he was!  They had this budgie who was a great friend of the dog's and used to walk along on the floor behind him:  dog moved, budgie moved.  And so it was they had both stopped one day, the budgie close up behind the dog - 'dogging' his footsteps as you might say.  Sheppy took a step backwards and stood on his best friend, squashing him.  Mortified, he picked the budgie up and gently laid him at mum's feet.  By the time this stage of the story was reached I was nearly weeing myself trying not to laugh.  Well that beautiful dog just had to come and live with us.  Of them all he was probably the best behaved dog we ever had.  Terrified of cats and any vehicle with air brakes that go "pshshsht".  Come to think of it, cats do that don't they?

And so to Sally, our jolly geriatric.  She's a Heinz 57 big time and from the strays' home!  But she's arguably the most intelligent of them all.  Sheppy was thick as two short planks when it came to finding things but Sally, blind and deaf though she now is, has a heck of a nose.  If I won't give her a biscuit you'll find her head down, bum up looking under the dresser and reaching with her front paws.  So funny!  At 16 she's still going strong.  Long may she continue.

Gosh I really have rambled on a bit here so I'll go watch telly now.


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Weds 20th January

Isn't that nice eh?   Our Sally (aka The Dog) just came along and rested her head on my lap and stared lovingly at me for about 5 minutes.  Not very long you might think but, with an attention span like Sally's, it might as well be all day.  

There was nothing she wanted, had already eaten, been for a wee and a woopsie outside, wasn't interested in being cuddled or sweet-talked.  Just wanted to gaze at me.  To have a creature that loves you so much that she wants nothing more than to look at you with liquid brown eyes.  It's an honour and a blessing.

I know un-doggy folk say that dogs ALWAYS have some ulterior motive for displays of affection.  They say that dogs don't have the capacity to love.  If you are an un-doggy person you will say we human dog-mums attribute too much human emotion to our dogs.  I can see where you're coming from.

But you're wrong.


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sat. 16 Jan 2010

Well one thing you can be sure of:  I'm glad I never made any rash promises about posting every day in 2010.  It's probably just as well really or none of us would ever get round to reading them all, never mind commenting.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for my 6-monthly check up.  You have to do that... have to order to keep your NHS dental registration up to date.   If you don't you'll be cast adrift, set aside, sidelined.  No messing about, no second chances, that - is - it,  make your own way!  Dentists who will take on National Health Service patients are like gold dust and your average man-in-the-street can't afford private treatment.  So if you're not registered and you get a toothache........prepare to suffer.  

Keith keeps up his registration too even though he has not a tooth in his head because they check your mouth for signs of anything nasty, like cancer, that you might not notice.  He goes annually but even so............he does sometimes wonder whether he, the Toothless One, is taking up a space that somebody with teeth might need.

£16.50 it costs and that covers the check-up and a scale and polish - even if you're toothless!  Keith still has to pay £16.50 even though he has no tussie pegs to scrub up.  He just drops his in a bath of Steradent every night and Bob's your uncle!

Not very fair, is it?

Different topic now.  Hair.   My whole life I have lived with hair that is a permanent mess:  "have you combed your hair today?",  "isn't it time you had that lot cut off?".  Lately A Truth has dawned on me:  I got the wrong head, a bloke was meant to have it.  I know chaps who spend HOURS in front of a mirror trying to get hair like mine.  They wax it and wet it and gel it and spray it, all to get it to look as if they just got out of bed.  My question is this:  Does any guy out there want to swap.  My hair is in a perfect bed-head the very second I get up and it stays like it all day without any chemical assistance.  An organic bed head you might say.  You can squirt it with water, stick a hat on it......comb it all you like.........hang it out the window in a force 9 gale.  It'll be perfect.  You too could have hair that looks as if it's been cut with blunt scissors while your finger's stuck in an electric socket.

See you soon

Friday, 8 January 2010

Friday 8 Jan 2010 - a quick p.s.

I should have kept my mouth shut:  all is not as well as I thought.  The gas boiler has just packed up!  Oh for crying out loud, they still have to open doors and things yet.  I rang the gas company and they have promised an engineer tomorrow.  This is where the wheelchair comes in handy.  If I wasn't disabled we would have had to wait until next week!  Now I am seriously worried about the water pipes freezing up overnight with no heating to keep them flowing.

Fri 8 January 2010 - mission accomplished

Eeeeh by gum, it's cold.  It made my birthday yesterday a bit of a non-event really because I couldn't get out to see anyone and they couldn't come and see me.  There was no birthday cake because there was no-one to eat it.  Even our nice lunch out had to be put off.  The postman made it though so there were cards.  Phone calls too.  Chatting to Mimuther, we were reminicing how dad would have enjoyed telling everyone who would listen about how it was just such a winter as what we're having now when I was born.  He would gleefully relate how he walked the ten miles from our village to the maternity home only to be presented with the ugliest baby you ever did see.  And that from a guy who was supposed to love me!

Dad used to be a great one for nonsense ditties.  Here's one I'd never heard before, as told by Mimuther:

Down came his sleeves up,
 Off came his jacket on;
He missed the train that he got on ,
He won't come now, he's sure to.

I'll never do this again.  I didn't know when I agreed a date for work to start that we would be in the worst winter we've had for decades.  On Monday this week (4th) the workmen came to begin removing and replacing our windows and doors.  It was already a snowstorm at 9am but on they went and "off came their jackets on" and out came the old brown window frames and in went lovely white ones.  Over the course of the week they've done all of them and I must say I'm impressed;  not just with the product but with the workmen.  They even sent me a birthday card!

It's going to look super when the outside walls have been done in white but that really will have to wait for better weather!  One thing's for sure, having seen the work involved I'm glad now that the other people let us down because I really don't think they were up to the job.

See this screwed up old newspaper?  This is what had been stuffed in where mastic filler should have been in the old windows!  You can't see it but it was dated 1967.  Talk about a botched job!

But at last it's done and your hair doesn't get blown about by the draught from the windows.  Well maybe I'm exaggerating......BUT NOT MUCH!!!


Monday, 4 January 2010

Sunday 3 Jan 2010 - I am a duffer

WHO SAID CROCHET WAS EASY???  Come on, 'fess up.  It never is.  You need 3 hands - at least.  One to hold the hook in one of the two prescribed positions;  one to have the wool wrapped around the fingers somehow or other;  the third to scroll down the instructions with your mouse.   You could really do with a fourth in case the phone rings.

I managed , over the course of 2 or 3 hours, to do a 6" 'foundation' row.  Then it got complicated talking about slip stitches and double crochet ...... and I couldn't keep the wool taut ..... and I  kept loosing hold of the dangly bit that I was supposed to be keeping hold of.  I give up.  I can't do it.  Well I probably could if I did nothing else for days and days but frankly I can't be arsed.  Pardon my language but such is the power of a crochet hook on a non-artist.  I'd rather darn socks!

Enough of that  I'll just have to BUY a few dish cloths and be done with it!

I got some good books at Christmas, which was just as well as I was wondering where the next read was coming from.  I was down to reading some more of Gloria Hunniford's autobiog.  My apologies to Gloria in case anyone knows her but I just do not like that book.  The one I've just finished is Pam Ayres' "Surgically Enhanced", and I cackling away at her CD's as we speak.   She became very popular as a poet and raconteuse in the '70s after she won a TV talent contest (nothing at all like X-Factor).  I'm not sure  how far across the world her fame spread  at the time - not far probably - but I liked her then and I do now.  Her poems and stories are incredibly funny.  Poignant too sometimes. 
Nothing that needs too much thinking about.

Alan Bennett's next.   A gentle humour here, he's mostly a playwright and I can get lost in what he writes.  We all know his characters:  they're our mums or grans or the woman up the street's second cousin twice removed!  This little volume starts off on the assumption that we all secretly think the Queen is just 'one of us' at heart.

This will be only the second of Jodie Picoult's I've read.  The first was "!Handle with Care" which centred on a family coping with a child who has my own condition - osteogenesis imperfecta - and which was written using multiple narrative voices.  It was a very good book and I think I shall enjoy this one just as much.
I'm saving Patricia Cornwell 'til last.    I just adore her Scarpetta novels.  A bit of blood and thunder and gore while you nod off - can't beat it!

Who's read Marie's Sunday Six Smilemakers?  I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find myself among her Sunday Six.  She has a picture of me when we were lucky enough to visit with Marie and Todd in October.  I've made lots of friends since I've been blogging and each one is special to me but Marie is even more so cos we've met in person.   In the photo I'm on the phone to someone else who means a lot to me, Grammy Staffy.  She phoned all the way from California, knowing I would be at Marie's that day.  Lovely.

Starting this entry yesterday (Sunday) and finishing it today, I'm not sure which date will appear but in case it's 4th GUESS WHAT????  I have two very nice chatty men clattering away replacing my windows.  Yes, after all this time the job is finally under way - not with the original firm of course.  Just think, by the end of the week.........

OK, I'm going to go stick some spuds in the oven now for lunch.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Saturday 2 Jan 2010 - a blank canvas........

I just KNEW Keith had something up his sleeve, little wotsit!  He's decided I need a new project for this year.

I did a little shopping list this morning and off he went to the supermarket to get it all.  It's always a mistake to do this because he always comes back with everything BUT what was on the list, mainly because he leaves the list at home or in the car.  It's an even bigger mistake to send my bank card with him (yes, I know you're not supposed to do that but I do) because he does the shopping using my card then gets cashback.  I'll be bankrupt one of these days!  I'm getting sidetracked now:  he came back today with Project 2010  -  The Art of Crochet!!!!!

At the start of every year a whole crop of various kinds of week-by-week magazines come out which "build into your very own encyclopaedia".  You know the sort of thing I mean?  Crochet.  I have to learn - correction, I have to teach myself - how to crochet.  And there's worse:  Keith intends to do it as well!  Picture the scene, himself sitting by the fireside crocheting his own...........I don't know......what DO you crochet?

Seriously, what IS crochet good for?  Specially to blokes?  The father of one of my Godmothers, who dutifully turned up at my baptism in 1951 and has never been seen since (the Godmother I mean), used to do beautiful embroidery and was a superb knitter, made beautiful things.  My mum never knitted anything when she was expecting me because this chap could do it better and quicker than she could so I was the best dressed baby in the village.

I knew a woman - a midwife - who was ALWAYS crocheting.   You would see her at it any-old-where.  She would crochet in the supermarket queue or while she waited for a bus.  For all I know she probably whiled away the hours while her victim patients produced by twiddling away.  I remember once on a trip in Germany in the days when east was east and west was west we visited a customs post and our group was all agog listening as a west German customs officer gave us the spiel.  All except Dierdre.  Dierdre was perched on a rock on the western bank of the Elbe gazing out across the river at the east German cows on the other side.........and crocheting as if her life depended on it!  But did we ever see the results of her labours?  Did we heck.

So now he's been and got the first issue but - hey - it's not all bad:  there's free DVD with it and 2 balls of wool.  That Crocheting hook looks a bit lethal, a bit like something the dentist might use!  So that is what 'we' are up to this New Year. 

Something to aspire to?

I seem to remember New Year 1971 before we married, he thought I could perhaps learn how to make dresses.  Huh??  Moi??  He went out and bought a dress pattern, the simplest looking thing he could find, and a length of fabric and a reel of cotton.  He painstakingly laid the fabric out on the floor and pinned the pattern on it.  Producing his dad's wallpapering scissors I was exhorted to "Go on, you cut it out".   Moi??  It sat there in his mum's house a few days and then he cut it out himself and brought all the bits round to my house.  I don't know what  happened to it after that.  He never mentioned it again!

If anybody asks me what they should give him for next Christmas I'm going to say a Cross-stitch kit!

........oh, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.