Monthly Archives: July 2010

Hiplog, 6 months on

It’s 6 months today since my operation and quite some time – about 3 months, I think – since I specifically wrote about it.

It continued to improve, and I rarely think about it, except to marvel thankfully about the difference it’s made to me.  There is still a small difference in leg length, just one or two millimetres I would say and I’m barely conscious of it.  I’m only mentioning it at all for the sake of a detached evaluation.  I read that one should give it several months for adjustment – settling in, correcting a pelvic tilt, and so on.

Looking back, I can quite see that someone with severe arthritis in one hip and less severe in the other hip or knee would have the deterioration of the second joint accelerated by the first operation.  I had a degree of discomfort in my left hip on occasion and it hadn’t shown any sign of arthritis in the x-ray I had last September.

Once I was back to normal movement, driving and everything, I found that standing still after exercise gave me some problems and made me limp, but that was temporary and doesn’t happen at all any more.  I can now wear any shoes I like – 3 inch wedge heels today, and I’ve stood and walked quite a lot.  I can also wear completely flat shoes.  I had reached the stage of only wearing heels of 1″ to 1 1/2″ as that was the only comfortable height.

I am occasionally aware of the implant – well, not the implant as such, but the join.  I can feel a sensation that one could almost call discomfort.  Hard to put into words … if you have a bruise that’s nearly healed, but when you press it there is a slight reminder of it.  Like that.  I’m aware of it now in fact.  It doesn’t ache or hurt, it’s just that I can feel where the top of my femur was cut off.  Never the pelvis, I’ve never felt that, although it’s titanium and has a screw in it.  It seems remarkable to me that there has been so little pain, considering all that was done.

The scar is very neat and just a pale line.  If rubbed, it still feels a mixture of tingling and numb.  It’s not swollen at all any more.

As for movement, I can do anything I want to, pretty well.  I haven’t tried kicking the light on, but can comfortably put my foot – either foot – on the kitchen counter.  I have short legs so this isn’t bad at all.  Before the operation, it was my left leg that could hardly lift at all, which seems odd as it was my right hip that was bad.  I can run and jump, but don’t much, as that sort of jarring isn’t good for it long-term.  If I’d wanted that, I could have had a different implant.

When I was waiting for the operation, I considered what I’d take as a success – the bottom line, that is.  I decided that the criterion for success would be to walk without being aware of every step.  Taking being able to walk without discomfort or pain for granted, to the extent of forgetting about it.  I was aware that it was a slightly pathetic want, as it’s something that one does normally take completely for granted, but I find it kinder to myself to not hope for too much – that is, not be disappointed if there were any residual problems as long as there was an acceptable improvement.   Since I’m way better than that, I reckon it to be close to a total success.

If you’ve read this far, here’s your reward – Zerlina in cool sunglasses.

Z is switched off

I biked merrily into town this lunchtime, observing how speedily I was bowling along.  It was only when I went over some bumps in the road and felt them quite joltily that I remembered that Phil pumped up my tyres recently – it really makes a difference.

I went in for the sports awards – quite a thing is made of it and it was very jolly.  I won’t quite say inspiring, as I’m not sure that there’s any sporting occasion that actually could inspire me, but of course I wouldn’t ever say so except in the privacy of a blog.

As I mentioned in a comment this morning, I had an almost sleepless night.  Finally dropped off sometime after midnight and was awake a couple of minutes after 1 am, and that was it.  I finally got up around 2.30 and read for some time before starting to deal with emails and stuff.  It was as well that I got on with it early, as our electricity was being turned off all day.  Back in the winter storms, a tree came down onto power lines over the marsh and the repair made was temporary.  They’ve done a full job over several days, since April and this is the final one.  Really nice men and they always call round in person to remind us, which I think is exceptionally considerate.  I am always full of admiration for the men – surely nearly all of them are men? – who are out in dreadful weather, repairing electricity and telephone cables, dealing with floods and storm damage.  Many of them must have equal problems at home, but do their job to get things mended as soon as possible.  I sometimes grumble when the phone line information isn’t helpful, but never at the people at the sharp end.

Anyway, I’d done a morning’s paperwork by 8.40 so settled down for a half-hour nap, which seems to have kept me going the rest of the day.

After the awards, I came back to babysit as Dilly was going to a tutor training session put on by Norfolk Council.  Later, we’d just finished dinner when Al came through to say that her car had a puncture and could I go and babysit while he went to help – it was about 20 minutes drive away.  The children couldn’t sleep, so I went and spoke sympathetically to them, but told them to rest quietly, even if it’s too warm for sleep.  They were very good and didn’t bother me at all.

The chaps weren’t gone all that long, no more than an hour – the tyre had had a blow-out and so they’d put on the spare.  Dilly wasn’t all that complimentary about the session – it was one of those where the documents just went up on the screen and the expert read them out.  Dilly said that she might just as well have been sent it all, and gained very little from turning up.  She said that she had been the only one there with experience of one-to-one tutoring on the (previous) government’s scheme so had various practical questions and points to raise – sounds as if she made herself awkward!  And so she should, I do often find at governor training sessions that the advisors, experienced as I know they are, are completely surprised by any question that can’t be reassuringly answered with a platitude.  I sometimes ask the awkward questions too.

For example a few years ago, we had several pupils sent to us who had been permanently excluded from other schools, sometimes for very bad behaviour.  It got to the stage that the then Head had brought the matter to the governors, who said that they were not willing to accept the latest pupil.  As there were spaces, the Local Authority overrode our decision.  So, the question I asked at the next relevant training sessions was “If governors know that a pupil has been excluded for violent behaviour, and accept that young person as a pupil and he or she then attacks another student or a teacher, could the person attacked sue the governors, on the grounds that they had knowingly admitted someone who had already been expelled for physical violence?”

In fact, I asked the same question of two different officers at different training sessions.  I didn’t receive an answer – not a coherent one, anyway.  I gave them my own – that if the governors  say they are unwilling to accept that pupil, then presumably the onus is on the Local Education Authority for making the school accept him or her.

That wasn’t all that well received, actually.  But it could hardly be denied.


I’m afraid so.  I bathed last night, got ready for bed, read until it was time for the light to go out (ie when the Sage had similarly bathed and come to bed) and then remembered that I’d left the sprinkler on in the greenhouse.  It had been very hot all day and the air was getting dry, so I’d put it on for a little while – rather longer than I’d meant.

I couldn’t leave it, so I hopped out, shoved on shoes and trotted out to the garden.  I didn’t feel the need to put on a dressing gown, fortunately we’re not overlooked by any other houses.  Except Dilly and Al, of course, but lights were out there so I assumed I wouldn’t traumatise my poor children.

I apologised to the Sage when I returned – it’s not easy, being married to me, poor chap.  As I said to him, I know that everyone else envies him no end, but he and I know the truth of it.

I’m having quite a lazy week.  Whenever I don’t actually have anything specific to do, I’m lounging around.  There seems to have been quite a lot on, and I’m not getting much sleep, what with warm nights, apologising to the Sage and trotting out to the garden at midnight, only to wake up again at dawn, so I’ve been a bit knackered.

I made crab cakes for dinner tonight, using chillies out of the garden for the first time.  Often, the first chillies aren’t that hot so I picked three, from three different plants.  The tiny yellowish one was not that hot and nor was the slightly larger purple one, but the greenery-yallery one was satisfyingly hot.  I used the two hot so hot ones and half the other, but didn’t want to test the Sage’s tolerance, so sliced the rest of it thinly and, later, sprinkled it on my share.  Very good, but I’ve been sneezing since.  Evidently, I haven’t been eating enough chilli recently.

The coriander is going to seed and, in view of the heat, I haven’t bothered to sow any more.  I’ll let it self-seed.  As I was picking off the remaining leaves, I tried munching a seed head.  Very nice, I picked a few and chucked them in with the leaves.  A bit spicier than dried coriander seed, but with that lemony flavour.

I had an appointment in Bury today.  The traffic was slow and it was lucky that I’d allowed plenty of time.  The person I was meeting was there before me, but I was still a few minutes early so it was all right.  I’m not sure why we met, actually, a ten-minute phone conversation would probably have done.  Still, good coffee.  And pleasant company.

Z goes to a tea party

There was cake and there were meringues and strawberries dipped in chocolate and everything.  I manfully resisted the lot, mainly for fear that I’d drip it down my front.

Did I mention the time, during the interval at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when … oh blimey, this is going to turn into one long question if I don’t stop now.


Some years ago,  during the interval of a concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when an elderly lady passed me.  She was accompanied by a middle-aged man and woman.  On her way towards the door, she started to put on her jacket, which she was quite competent to do, but the younger woman lunged over-helpfully towards her and grabbed it to shove her arm into the sleeve.  She shoved me too, and my glass lurched so that I got red wine all over my cream silk top.  The interfering bat didn’t even notice and I was too startled to yelp, though I received speakingly sympathetic looks from other people.  Anyway, not to be overly discomfited, I repaired to the cloakroom, dabbed water over my top and got the marks out, and then swivelled it back to front so that, at least, the wetness didn’t show face to face.

So, the tea party – it was a celebration of jolly good effort from Years 9 and 10, and their parents came along and afterwards we repaired to the hall where they were all given sustificates.  They get gift vouchers and suchlike too, from helpful local sponsors.  It’s a jolly occasion and I sat in the back row while another governor gave a short speech and presented the certificates.

I haven’t mentioned Al’s bees recently.  I told you about the honey he extracted a month or so ago – Blue Witch wondered why he blithely destroyed the comb.  I asked (he wasn’t at all surprised, having read the post and the comment) and explained that they actually wanted some beeswax for candles and suchlike.  Anyway, since then the bees have been manufacturing huge amounts of honey, so he had to order a *machine for extracting lots of honey without destroying all the honeycomb*. I don’t know anything about it, but no doubt I’ll find out when it arrives.

He had a bit of a worry recently.  He’s got his three hives, which he intends to keep, and had three more spare, two of which he sold and the third he promised to someone else.  He’d checked that there was a newly-hatched queen, so gave it time for her maiden flight and to start laying, and then checked again.  He was alarmed to find very few eggs, which weren’t in the right place in the cells.  He reckoned that a worker had started to lay unfertilised eggs – this occasionally happens and, when it does, the worker kills a newly-emerging queen and this will lead to the demise of the hive, as the eggs all hatch into drones – idle males, darlings, so unlike real life.

It was late in the season to try to save it, but he thought he’d give it a go – the theory is that the laying worker is a house bee, not a forager, so she’s never learned her way back to the hive.  So, you put a sheet down a good way from the hive, then take the bees over there, shake them all off the frames and most of them will fly right back.  But not the laying worker.

A queen is still needed, so he put a frame of eggs from another strong hive, so that one would be raised as a new queen.

The theory was all there, but in fact it turned out that it wasn’t necessary.  He always says that he’s a complete novice (general opinion is that it takes at least five years to not be completely clueless) – anyway, next time he checked he found that there was loads of healthy brood.  He’s checked up, and apparently the first few eggs a new queen lays are not quite up to scratch.  You know, like the first pancake that gets given to the dog.  Fortunately, she was such a new queen that she was able to fly back home.

So, yesterday the nuc was taken to its new home.  It’s not really far enough away to be sure that they won’t return, so he checked last night.  There were seven bees!  Probably quite old ones (foraging bees only last a few weeks) whose instincts had been too strong when they crossed a former flight path.  He sprayed them with sugar water and introduced them into one of the other hives, to give them a chance.  Sentimental?  Well, why not?  Anyway, he’ll keep an eye open and hope that the others will settle down.

By the way, a friend called in to say that he has seen a large fox in the next field, where it’s living in the maize.  I thought I hadn’t seen so many rabbits recently.  They are still easy pickings, but I’m afraid that when the maize is cut, the fox will look further afield.  Unless he’s stopped first.  I’m afraid his days are numbered.  Sorry.

There has been an annoying mosquito whining around me, which I hadn’t managed to slap.  Then the sound stopped, and I saw it had landed on my arm.  I smacked it dead, and found a smear of my blood on my hand.  Honestly, it can’t have been there for more than a second.  I’ve smeared my arm with anti-histamine cream and am very glad that I spotted it.  Horrid thing.

Second coming, as it were

As usual, the internets is awful.  It’s taken me a good ten minutes to fetch up a picture in an auction that the Sage wanted to see – very nice, but we won’t be bidding as a friend wants it.  Well, probably not anyway, even if he didn’t.  Not without seeing it, and it isn’t local.

It was such a warm afternoon that I took the papers out to read on the lawn. Lying on a blanket, I shared the space with the bantams, of course

and so have a bird’s eye view of them clustering round, hoping for a little something.  They received it of course, but not from me.  I didn’t want to encourage them to join me on my blanket.

Ro phoned and mentioned that he and Dora have both bought new phones.  Ro recently negotiated a salary upgrade so felt he could justify a smartphone and Dora was thinking along the same lines – they have both bought the same one.  I asked if he remembers Howard and Hilda … it wasn’t meant to be a dig, and he didn’t take it as such.

Anyway, I must take the Sage along and buy him his birthday present, which is only a month late.  We really need to do it in the next ten days, because then, as I’ve mentioned, we’re off to visit Wink.

I’ve just read that link and it isn’t the best explanation – the point is that Howard and Hilda were really happy together and they always dressed the same.  So we (the family, that is) use Howard and Hilda as a verbal shorthand for couples who are happy to be like each other.

I’m also reminded that I think that Peter Egan (who played neither Howard nor Hilda) is delightful.

Z loses a day

Whoops, sorry about that.  I thought I’d written in the morning so didn’t look again but, of course, it was Friday morning.  I’m not sure how I can have possibly managed without blogging for two whole days.

Anyway, the sale is all over and done with again.  It shows my age now, I find it very tiring.  We added an extra hour to the viewing time a few years ago, which has eased busyness, but made it a longer day.  We leave home about 12 noon and get back about 10pm, but it’s a fairly busy morning too, so it does take it out of us a bit.  I try to do most of the work to save the Sage’s energy for the sale itself, no good if he flags by the time it starts at 7 o’clock.

Sad to say, the mug didn’t meet its reserve in the sale, so is presently unsold.  There are a couple of people interested and it will probably be sold within a day or so, however.  It is badly damaged – this wouldn’t put me off, were I in the market to buy, as it is truly wonderful painting, and it used not to matter in the least with Lowestoft, but times change and people are more concerned about condition than they used to be.

The same day, Friday, that the Sage’s picture was in the Low. Journal, Zerlina’s was in the BBJ (our local paper), at the village festival.  Here she is.  Ice-cream eating is a matter for due concentration.

I will probably be back later.  I feel very conscious that I have short-changed you in the blogging department.  Toodly-pip, darlings.

Morning Post

I was interested to notice that, whilst most people’s lawns are still quite brown, the very little rain we have had has restored some greenness to ours.  I then observed that the Ups and Downs, the field grazed by cows (and rabbits and bantams) has a haze of green, the Front Field, which was cut for hay, has not.

I suppose it’s in the cutting or, in this case, the lack of it.  I still do not need to mow my lawn.  In fact, I thought I was going to have to cut off the heads of the grass as they came into seed, but the chooks have been eating them too.  Very nutritious, grass seed.

I was unhappy yesterday to discover a whole artichoke plant has been blown over.  The roots are still in the ground, but I don’t know if it will survive.  I couldn’t do anything then, it was far too windy, and I have no time today and I’m out tomorrow morning.  I suppose that, by then, its survival or not will be clear.  It’s not that the wind is anywhere near a gale, but with all plants in full leaf and growth, they really are caught by it.  A friend with whom I dined last night said that she was very anxious that she would lose branches from her ash tree.  However, when we left the restaurant the wind had dropped right down and she cheered up.  It’s breezy again now though.

Another friend said that, the other day – think it must have been Monday – she was caught in a real downpour – that is, she was in a supermarket and hung about at the exit with lots of others for a good ten minutes before deciding to make a dash for it.  She rolled her trousers to her knees as the drains were overflowing, but discovered how deep the water was as she waded, and (I assume she was carrying bags, I hardly think she could have pushed a trolley) they still got wet.  Didn’t make a lot of difference as she was soaked to the skin by the rain.  A mother and child were approaching the supermarket and the child cheerily hopped over the puddle (as it thought).  Landed up to its middle to consternation of child and parent.

“We only had a shower,” I said, and the others out of Norwich agreed.  Rain can be very localised around here, it seems to follow and be contained by the many waterways.

As I indicated, I was out to dinner last night so the Sage fended for himself.  I’ve just put the grillpan in the dishwasher and thrown away a wrapper from the bakery labelled “Strawberry Pie”, so I think he indulged himself.  And indeed, why not?  I had a very delicious meal, if not quite so high in saturated fats as his probably was.  And he did eat cucumber at some point, as I found peelings in a tea mug in the drawing room this morning.

A Sage and his sagacity are soon parted

It became very windy during the night.  Both bedroom windows were open, and we were woken by one banging back and forth.  The Sage got up, so I went back to sleep.  The sound woke me again several times during the night, but it wasn’t until 5 o’clock that I could be bothered to get up and deal with it.  I closed the offending window, checked the other one was on it’s keep-thing (must have a proper word, the sticky-up bit that the hole in the bar fits on to) and went back to bed.  Of course, I read and played games until it was nearly time to get up, and then went back to sleep.

Later, I suggested to the Sage that it would be a good idea always to make sure that the bedroom window was secure.  “I got up,” he said.  “It was secure, but it was so windy that it was banging anyway.”

I pondered this for a moment.  “Which window?” I asked.  “The one above the side door,” he said.

“Um.  That wasn’t the banging one.  You didn’t check the window on the other side of the room, then.”

It appeared not.  There didn’t seem any point in asking why, in any case, he hadn’t shut the window he thought was banging.  One doesn’t necessarily think quite straight at 2am.

Z and the Sage meet a Celeb

Today was a terribly important day, because I was to meet a VVIP.  Yes, darlings, I am here to say that Dave really does have an actual, factual mother, and I have met her.

He mentioned in passing the other day that she was mistaken for his wife and I can understand – not that she looks as young as he, of course – that she was assumed to be way younger than she is.  She is youthful and pretty and looks way younger than her years – as does Dave, of course.  Pretty in a rugged and manly way, in his case, natch.

I was quite nervous.  I got out cups and saucers and polished the teaspoons and the milk jug.  She dealt with the chickens with aplomb.  She was probably horrified. She did give her views on the wall, which were that the half-way stage is good for leaning your elbow upon.  Indeed, I don’t think a rabbit could jump that high, so it’s probably adequate for its purpose.

I remembered to call Dave David, throughout, by the way. I did blot the old copybook, by having forgotten to pick up Dave’s photos, so rang to check their custodians were in and then whizzed over – turned out that Robert had misheard my hame as “Kelly” so he was quite surprised to see me, not that he knows anyone called Kelly.  I’d wondered why he was quite formal on the phone and didn’t even call me darling.  Anyway, I fetched the photos and gave them back.  I promised to get his folder back too, but I forgot at the meeting tonight.  I’ll ask.  It’ll be there.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll merit a mention on her blog – doubt it, she’s very busy – but I have met Dave’s mama, and she’s charming.

Z enjoys dinner, but has another wakeful night

I’ve just been reading how huge our debts are. I know, I’ve known for years how, even in the times when we weren’t at war and everything was apparently rosy, that the previous government deliberately disguised the amount of the national debt.

A number of schools were invited to apply to be part of a rebuilding project under a PFI – Private Finance Initiative – project. Never mind for now about all of the details, my present point is that, having applied and been accepted for a new build on a new site of our village school, we governors had to learn a great deal about the subject.

I could understand the figures but not make sense of them. So finally I asked the coordinator how it all added up. He explained that the company putting up the money for the building would spend out huge sums, but would heavily overcharge for management services provided. This would service their debt and repay themselves. It would be a 25 year project. Somewhere halfway, they would break even by paying off the original loan. After that, they would make a massive profit. So, I asked, why – since this was a government initiative, though being run by the county council – why didn’t the government put up the money and save all those charges? This way, I was told with simple truth, the expense doesn’t show up in public sector borrowing.

PFI schemes alone have put us in debt to the tune of an extra 200 billion pounds more than even that lying regime ever told us. It was about 8 years ago I found this out and I never trusted them one inch since.

Anyway. A delightful, if somewhat unusual, combination of food for dinner. Artichokes to start with. No careful cutting beforehand to serve just the hearts. Part of the pleasure to me is the slow pulling off of the individual leaves, the dipping in butter and the scraping of the artichoke flesh against my teeth. Then the careful removal of the choke, the immature flower, to reveal the heart as the final treat, worth all the effort.

After that, we had the first home grown runner beans. We could have had them a few days earlier if I’d noticed, for they were big enough. I love runner beans, picked young and tenderly unstringy. I like them best sliced long and fairly thick. Little chippy bits are easily overcooked, but broken into chunks doesn’t expose enough of the tender inside. With it, we had some young broad beans, some small new potatoes – these, I didn’t grow – and kippers. I’ve said before how fond I am of kippers and of anything smoked.

The Sage picked all the broad beans that were ready, too many for us, so I put a boxful in Al’s van, together with a couple more cucumbers. I had cucumber sandwiches for lunch, but can’t keep up with the crop.

The first aubergine and a pepper are ready to pick. That is, they will grow more yet if I leave them, but the plants crop heavier if the fruits are removed regularly.