Monthly Archives: June 2008

Dinner was late

We were all relaxing on the lawn, the Sage having washed down all the garden chairs which he had inexplicably decided to move under trees: trees where birds had both roosted and crapped.

I asked the Sage if he’d watered David’s plants. Some of them, he said. We realised that meant that the rest would need to be done this evening, otherwise they might not survive the night after a hot day in the greenhouse. We got into the car and set off. “Only 20 minutes” I said. “Then I need to get dinner on.”

David’s son had called into the shop earlier on, to ask Al if he would like to pick the produce that he would, otherwise, have bought. The Sage had been along to his house to check how much there was.

So, we arrived at around 6.30, to find David’s son and son-in-law busy watering. We got out, introduced ourselves and said how sorry we were for their loss. They are two lovely men, one lives just down the road from us and the other, with David’s daughter, in the next village. There is another son too, who is quite ill – they had all been more worried about him than about their father, although they knew he had slowed down a bit of late.

They were starting to clear up – D was the sort of chap who found a use for everything and never threw anything away. They’d taken a load of plants out of the greenhouse and laid them on the lawn – a couple of hundred, easily. They were putting aside what they wanted to take, but there’s loads to deal with one way or another. We’ve said we’ll pick all the fruit and veg and flowers we can and Al will pay them at the end. There are 4 really good compost bins, at least 2 of which I think Weeza and Phil will want to buy (the family is not bothered about money, they just need to deal with it all as soon as they can) and we will take and look after all the potted plants. There are hundreds of pots and seed trays and we said we’ll take them too – it’s a fair bit of work we’ve let ourselves in for, but what can you do? They dearly loved their father and would hate all his work to be thrown away, and we know what they mean. The pots will be used, over the next few years.

There will be a church service and then a cremation – I said that, if they want hymns, I will probably be the person playing them. Dave was the same age as the Sage; far too young to die. His wife had died of the same illness their son now suffers from, 15 years ago.

Annie called round to say how sorry she was. She spoke hesitantly, not typical of her, because she was upset. He had given her and her husband many plants for their garden and he was a good friend.

The port has been named Isaac

Sorry, darlings, all a bit religious.

The sidesman waved a port bottle at me. “Only *this much* left” she cried, which meant we might run out. It’s my job to provide the communion wine, i.e. reasonably decent port. I sped off home to fetch the spare bottle I had in the larder. Unfortunately, it was sherry. There was a bottle of port, but it was extremely good 20-year-old vintage stuff. I hesitated, for several minutes. I looked again. No other option – and Weeza and Phil had borrowed my car, and there was no time to bike into town.

I decided. The good port would be used as the symbol of Christ’s blood (no belief in transubstantiation in this blog, thank you). It was a waste, frankly, but in a good cause and it would be given willingly. I went out and locked the door.

Al was just going across the drive, and he came to greet me, grinning at the sight of the bottle in my hand. When I told him the tale, he produced his car key and said he’d drive me in to get another bottle. I genuinely had been going to give it though, so I think I’ve earned the points in St Peter’s big book.

Dave* had to tell me his neighbour, David*, had died suddenly yesterday. He hadn’t arrived to pick up a friend, so friend had called round and found him. I’d seen David on Friday afternoon – he grew salad and stuff for Al and he’d dropped in to the shop with a box of gooseberries. He’d promised to come back in the morning with half a dozen lettuces – but he didn’t live to cut them. We’re all shocked and sorry. The list of ill friends has continued to grow, too. There are so many people who have received awful shocks in the last few weeks.

I felt tense and depressed during the service. I’ve been losing it a bit – too much to do and too many people to worry about. However, I (unusually) had read a passage in the Bible this morning – St Paul’s 1st epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, which I’ll put at the end. And then, the Gospel reading was Luke Chapter 10, Verses 25 – 37 – which I’ll give in a modern translation this time.

Okay, I’m no believer in signs and symbols, but all the same, I decided to focus out rather than in. It helped.

*honestly, both of them. All the best ones are called David.

Don’t feel obliged to read them, the point is that the subject of both is love

St Paul’s 1st epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, if I have not love, I am nothing. And though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and deliver up my body to be burned, if I have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long and is kind; love envieth not; love acteth not rashly, is not puffed up: Doth not behave indecently, seeketh not her own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth: Covereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. And when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall vanish away. When I was a child I talked as a child; I understood as a child, I reasoned as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. And now we see by means of a glass obscurely; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then I shall know, even as also I am known. And now abide these three, faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.

Luke Chapter 10, Verses 25 – 37

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbour to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Z receives her comeuppance

You may remember, a while ago, Al was quite embarrassed when a fellow-businessman in the town mentioned that he had read this blog and recognised who we were. Al denied knowing about the blog at all, which was not exactly strictly accurate and something equivalent to sticking your fingers in your ears and going ‘lalala’ to avoid hearing unwelcome news. He was a bit iffy about it, but I refused to give in and stop blogging.

As you know, if you’ve read back a bit, he has started his own blog now (hah!) about being a newbie beekeeper. I found yesterday, when I went in to man the shop so he could go to his daughter’s sports day (poor kid’s only 3, really, these schools, prompted by our control-freak government, don’t half push the little children in their care), that he had a poster on his wall, with a splendid photo of massed bees, giving the web address of his bee blog. The one on which I’ve left comments. He has had his revenge and outed me in his turn.

Oh well. Hello, folks. You’re more than welcome to tell me who you are.

Z is to visit the Dark Metropolis!!(!)

I’ve booked the train ticket and Ronan is coming with me. We’ll get into London at 4.30 on Monday 4th August and leave on Tuesday at 2.30 – not long, but they were dirt cheap tickets. We’ll be occupied for a couple of hours in the evening, but footloose otherwise – that is, with or without each other as circumstances call us.

If the baby is born a few days early then hey, more important matters will take my time and Dave might be able to use the ticket.

Weeza and Phil are here for the weekend – that is, they are here Right Now, taking my car in the morning and I will see little of it, or them, for the next couple of days. The good news is that Phil has been offered the job he was interviewed for on Wednesday, and he has accepted it. It’ll mean a 5 mile bike ride to the station every day though, and the return journey is uphill. I couldn’t do it – but he is young and strong. He’ll be fine, after the first agonising month.

Z wonders what to do

Hm. I’ve been invited to go with a member to an evening at the British Museum in early August. Very tempting, but it’s the week that Weeza’s baby is due, so should I be on hand here? Mind you, I’m hardly going to be useful exactly unless, possibly, the baby comes a week or two early and I’m on cookin’ & shoppin’ duty – but then she has a more than capable husband to help there too.

I could make my mind up later, but by then the price of the railway ticket will have shot up. Furthermore, I’d be available (being footloose and all that) to meet any of you lovely people who might have time to spare, and that would be jolly for me.

Thing is too, it might be the last opportunity for me to use their London flat to stay in. It’ll have to be either let or sold before long and either way it won’t be available any more, and it has been lovely to have a pied à terre in Town.

Anyone interested in buying one or two very small, but splendidly-situated flats in Islington, by the way? – well, it worked with the bricklaying.

Beating time, but time is beating me

It was Kenny’s birthday yesterday, and today he came round to visit the children. I arrived as he was settling back into his nim cart to go home again and I went to say hello and say happy birthday. “Eighty-nine” he remarked. He looks the same as ever, you know, and if it weren’t for his irretrievably damaged spine – he spent too many years working too hard – he’d be feeling well too. However, he told me that there’s blood coming from somewhere, the doctors aren’t sure where but it doesn’t look too good. “Can’t go on forever,” he said matter-of-factly.

I had been into school for a Year 9 music lesson. West African drums today – asked for countries in that part of the continent, one boy did impressively well. I joined in and it needs a good degree of concentration, especially when different groups are playing in different rhythms. A few shrunk back from trying too hard and a couple of boys, who take private lessons, were particularly good and I noticed them watching the others and deliberately giving them a strong lead. I mentioned it to the teacher afterwards.

It rained last night, sunny again this morning. I should be working or outside. I’m neither.

Like steam giving way to sail

I suppose it was because I became so physically tired that I found it so annoying. It became harder to deal with as the day went through. Dilly and I each pushed a pushchair (although the children walked some of the time) and no one seemed aware of it at all.

I’m not one of those who finds people discourteous on the whole. Of course, it does happen, but the reasonable behaviour of the majority and the helpfulness when it’s needed more than make up for it. But at the Norfolk show, the usual awareness of people’s surroundings seemed to disappear. When you are wheeling a pushchair with a toddler in, it’s not that easy to stop and change direction unexpectedly, yet everyone was so dozy at best; downright obstructive most of the time, that I became awfully tempted to just keep going right into their ankles and just trip them up. I didn’t of course, and I kept smiling, but it was with the insincere rictus of a Miss Mapp.

In all other regards, all went well and we had a very enjoyable day. The weather was fine and the suggested rain did not fall and Squiffany, in particular, was adorable all day. Pugsley drifted a bit, but he’s a bit in that in-between age. He was very taken with a large African tortoise (though only half grown, I suspect) and cried when we left, so we had to return to say goodbye. Squiffany liked the pink pigs best; I have a weakness for the Berkshire and the Gloucester Old Spot. I was also drawn to the goats. The Sage was tempted, at one time, to keep goats but I reminded him of all that goat milk and he was, thank goodness, put off.

And Squiffany thinks I have pretty knickers. So I have, of course. Why buy them, if not?

Z looks at the garden and worries

The Sage and I went out into the garden and solemnly discussed what needs to be done. It’s depressing. I mean, it was quite positive in that we agreed on the first things to do -some of those 5′ tall weeds that Al mentioned on the bee blog must be cut down and cleared, then we can finish (or nearly finish, there’s another section that has Jerusalem artichokes over it at present) making the concrete paths. We will also decide on the size and position of the shed that Al and I want to make. It will be a lean-to against the wall, and we’ll be able to keep pots and tools in it.

We also agreed that we need to clear the bit between the soft fruit and the stream, so that we can put up rabbit-proof netting.

There’s some problem regarding the wall. It was meant to be a 4-year project, but this is the 4th year and the Sage kept vetoing bricks until last autumn, when he finally found some he would accept. I just can’t face another 4 years while we build it slowly, but the alternative seems to be getting a brickie in to do it in a great hurry – as taking his slow time while I *help*would also waste it and that’s too expensive – and I’m reluctant to let go of this project. I’m not at all happy about it, but I’ll let it mull.

The area around the lawn which we cleared last autumn was not entirely completed – there’s some stuff I can’t shift, and the Sage is a keen starter but not, I’m afraid, a completer of tasks; he thinks that 90% is enough, whereas sometimes it’s the last bit that makes it all pull together. I am a completer (though not too good at getting started) and this has always been hard for me to cope with. Anyway, we’ve agreed on the way forward there, and also to get a new smaller lawnmower; either electric or at least with a key start, so that I can mow the grass as I want it regularly. I think that there’s nothing more counter-productive than nagging and husbands, like children, have a hair-trigger ‘off’ switch when they’re reminded of something too often. Better to work out another way to solve the problem.

The front field has been simply mowed for hay for some years, but we’d quite like to have it grazed. It needs to be fenced before this can be done, and water provided. He’s busy sorting this out and that will be excellent. The grass was mowed yesterday and it looked an excellent crop. It’s lovely quality hay, as it isn’t fed and watered but grows naturally, so has very good flavour. Or so I’m told. I haven’t tried eating it myself. We finally seem to have got rid of the ragwort, with several years hand-weeding (a tedious job in a 4 acre field) so it’s safe for animals to eat.

Anyway, yes, it was positive in that we decided what needs to be done most urgently and we agreed on everything except the wall, which we have agreed to wait and see how I feel in a few more weeks about, but there’s just so much to do and we’re both very busy and one of us is a bit lacking in physical strength and neither of us (one more than the other) is as young as we used to be. But although I’m feeling a bit anxious about the amount to be done, what we are doing is going to make things better than they are now. So I suppose it’s positive overall. In its way.

The other thing is that Phil and I, having worked very hard for the past few days, got used to a lunchtime (short) sit-down with a can of beer. I rather want a drink right now as a consequence. Also, it might get me wildly cheerful again and thus able to go and tackle some of the garden instead of worrying about it. I think that’d be a good idea, don’t you?

Radish munchers

Nothing happening but painting, so there’s not a lot to write about. Every room is painted, although when I left at 6.45, the bathroom needed at least one more coat. Phil has an interview for a new job tomorrow, so one of us will give him a lift to that and then to the nearest station, as he’s going back to London in the evening.

I haven’t read the papers from last Friday onwards. I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to catch up. I suppose the world will be no better or worse for me reading about it.

I filled the car this evening (with petrol, that is). There was probably the better part of a gallon and a half still in it, and it cost £63.74. In April two years ago, it cost the low £40s to fill it; a year ago it was £50 and three months ago, £60. Shops are the sufferers, I’m afraid, as I no longer visit them except for essentials. I’ve been shopping twice in Norwich this year; once for Squiffany’s birthday present and once for clothes for me in a smaller size.

Have I mentioned our rabbit problem this year? They have eaten two lots of runner bean plants, but almost ignored the french beans. When we first moved here, there were a huge number of rabbits, but they got myxomatosis, twice, and then some foxes got most of the survivors, so the rabbit-proof netting around the veggie garden gradually got done away with as it was enlarged. We plan to get the wall built this year, which will sort out one and a half sides of the patch and greenhouses deal with all but one side. The Sage, who is a crack shot (he used to shoot at Bisley), got one, but hasn’t time to sit in wait. Actually, he only enjoys target shooting; he is no hunter at all and prefers to see wildlife going about its business, but some things are classed as vermin, including squirrels. He loves birds and is upset to see them taking eggs and babies from their nests. We don’t mind rabbits at all, as long as they restrict themselves to eating grass and flowers. They’re welcome. But not when they take the radishes and beans…we didn’t even bother to try lettuces this year.

Bee is for blog

I asked if I might link, but I haven’t had a reply yet, so I’ll put the link in and take it out again if they say no. The bee blog is Al’s final descent into the baleful influence of his mother. He may kick, he may scream, but he has become a blogger. Heh heh heh.