Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bare-faced cheek

Here I am, make-up-less and – actually, I could have done something with my hair, couldn’t I?  No matter.  My eye does look a bit pouchy in the photo, something I hadn’t noticed in the mirror.  However, the swelling has gone down, it’s just a bit red and no one seems to have noticed all day, or maybe they’re just too tactful to mention that I look as if I’ve been in a bit of a dust-up.  You should see the other fellow, darlings.

I feel so much brighter of eye, though.  It’s made me realise that my brain must have been disregarding the obstruction to my vision – that is, I didn’t consciously see the mole but it must have been blocking the corner from my sight because there’s a difference now, even without glasses on.  I keep putting the damn things down and losing them, though.  I can’t read with them on or prepare food, nothing close to.

So, enough about that, end of story.  From tomorrow, I’ll tell you a bit about my mother.  I’m afraid there are no early photos of her though.  Hardly anything from her childhood was kept – her grandmother’s glove box and portrait (which I don’t really know what to do with) and that’s it.  Her father, when he was losing his sight, decided to burn all photos and memorabilia, which was a great pity.  So the portrait will be painted in words.  As I said the other day, I have written about her before so it’ll be based on posts from six years ago.  Only a few of you will have read them and fewer remember them, so I hope that you will excuse me as Blue Witch has kindly done.

Z looks like a pirate

Yo ho ho, darlings, I may have missed Talk Like a Pirate day, but at least I can look like one for a couple of hours.  I can take this off soon in fact, but I’m keeping it on for long enough for the children to laugh at me.

I’ll put in photos, but to save you from any gruesomeness you’d rather not see, I’ll insert a break and put them after that (I hope I can work out how to do that).

First they sent me downstairs to the medical photography place to have pictures taken.  I felt a bit of an idiot, having a young man asking me to look at the camera, look at the ceiling, sit up straight, left a bit…while he took photos of a lump on my eye.  Then back to the eye unit – it had taken half an hour’s waiting, so someone had gone ahead of me, but that was okay.  A sweet nurse called Zerlina (that is, her name was the same as little z’s real one) took my blood pressure, which was 151/82 and therefore quite a bit higher than usual, and asked me to read the chart.  I was wearing my glasses and was able to read it from top to bottom with either eye, which rather impressed me, as I can’t always do that.

I waited a bit longer – Dilly and Hay were with me, but eventually went off to get some tea – and another nurse came and gave me some plastic bags to wear over my shoes – that is, they were elasticated and intended for the purpose – and then took me through to sign the consent form.  The surgeon met me there and went to get ready.  I was given a head cover, highly becoming I’m sure, to keep my hair out of the way, anaesthetic drops were put in my eyes, then iodine to clean the eye to be done, then we went into the theatre.  Once I was lying on the operating table, I had another drop put into my right eye, then he injected a local anaesthetic into my eyelid,* then it was clamped open.  The lights were extremely bright.  The procedure itself was very quick.  When he started to put the clamp on, I began the 17 times table, which is the best for distraction purposes.  May, the nice nurse, held my hand but I didn’t need to squeeze, I saw the lesion being dropped into the bowl as I reached 17 times 5 is 85.  The surgeon said he reckoned it was a mole.  It’ll be sent for analysis, but no one thinks it’ll be a problem.

Then he put the eyepatch on me, I was told to keep it on for a couple of hours and that I’d be given eyedrops and to return in a few weeks, and I sat up and left the room.  I’ve got an advice sheet and the drops and Dilly has asked us in to dinner tonight so that I don’t have to cook.  I must be careful for a few days, not bend over or lift anything heavy so that it doesn’t bleed.  No stitches, but he cauterised it.

So that’s done.  Here are the ‘before’ photos – if you’ve met me, you’ll know what my eye looked like but it’s distinctly unappealing in close-up, so if you’re the least squeamish, don’t click on the jump.

*I’d forgotten this, BW reminded me

Update – I’ve just taken off the eyepatch and it isn’t too bad, so I’ll add that photo here.

If you read this on a feedreader, I’m afraid the jump doesn’t work.  Sorry, I can’t remember how to stop showing a full post on a feedreader, so I’ll put the pics some way down the page.

I warned you …

Z does nothing

It’s a lovely day, I should be gardening.  I’m not though, I don’t feel like doing anything much today.  I’ll read the paper, listen to music (the poor Sage must hate what I have on at present, I should put on earphones) and generally chill.  Elle is due to return sometime today, it’ll be fun to have her here again.  Her laptop needed repair and her parents decided it would be better to buy a new one – it was a very old Mac, originally her father’s, then her sister’s, and they knew its days were numbered.  They arranged for one to be delivered here and I took it along to the school on Friday, so she’ll have had the fun of opening it there.  It’s an advance – er – *you know what* present.

Things will be busy here for the next week, though nothing really to talk about, so I thought I might write about my mother for a few posts: her early life, that is, before she was married.  But I’ve checked and I already have, about five years ago.  So now I’m scouting around for a subject.  Any suggestions will be received with thanks.  After all these years, it’s not easy to think of anything new.  Of course, I haven’t known many of you for that long, but there are some from way back and I wouldn’t want to make you think I was being lazy by covering old ground – or not too often, that is.

The main thing happening tomorrow is the operation on my eyelid.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens, I suppose, at any rate.  The little growth under the lid must have got slightly bigger – it looks much the same but I can feel it against my eyeball all the time now, which I only used to do at night in bed, when my eye was a bit dry.  Bah.  It’ll be good to have had it done and I hope it doesn’t leave much of a scar.  If it does – oh well, no matter.  I expect it’ll be fine.

Edboes moves house

Well, the sale was a success, but it exhausted the Sage.  He agrees with me that help is needed.  Further developments in due course.

Ro stayed overnight, which was lovely.  He kept me company, though not at my pace, in whisky drinking last night.  This morning,  I cooked bacon, eggs and tomato and then Ro filled the car with various items, including his guitar and computer, that he hasn’t had room for in Norwich.  Also, and most importantly, Edboes.

As you can see, Edboes is thrilled.  He hasn’t had a ride in a car for at least twenty years, and he’s lived here for twenty-six and a half, nearly, years.  You’d never think he was twenty-eight years old, would you?  For a while, he’s sat next to Bobby the leopard, which has given him something new to think about.

Ro might not forgive me for this, so I’ll remove this tomorrow.  In the meantime, enjoy…


I had lunch with friends on Thursday.  I’m a Lady who Lunches, once a month – yes, darlings, I’m that sort of girl.  I started this to keep my mother company, over 20 years ago.  I was the youngest then and I am still the youngest now, though not by so much nowadays.  Anyway, they’re all retired, quite high-powered, very public-minded, fairly conservative, whether with a big or small c or both.

On my table of eight, two said they had voted, four said they were not going to vote, one said she was going to spoil her paper and one said she had to vote because two of her aunts had been Suffragettes, she couldn’t not vote, but she might spoil her paper too.  Mostly, there were two reasons – one, they didn’t see any reason for the police commissioner to be an elected post, particularly party political, and it was a waste of money and two, there had been so little information on the subject that they didn’t know whom to vote for anyway.  Of the two who voted, we had both looked up details online, and I’d also read it in the local paper, though there was just one brief article a couple of weeks ago.

Ro also voted.  He said that he’d rather someone he supported got in than not vote and have someone he didn’t want.  That was my view.  Also, I thought of the people in the world who don’t have the vote and didn’t have a vote in the past, especially women (I’m very unsexist normally, I promise, but disenfranchisement is more likely to happen to women) and so I appreciate the rights I have.  Ro agreed with me there.

Anyway, if intelligent and committed people choose not to use their right to vote, that seems quite telling.  But maybe it’ll work out, who knows?  Ro checked the news tonight and apparently here the Independent candidate won.  He and I voted for him first and the Sage gave him his second choice, so we’re all pleased.

Ro is staying overnight, which is lovely.  I’ve just promised him bacon and eggs for breakfast.  He’s very pleased.

A(u)ction stations

The auction is tomorrow.  Here’s the catalogue.  The miniatures at the end, lots 86-89 are just gorgeous, so sweet.

I don’t feel as though I’m ready as I usually am, though I can’t think what it is that I haven’t done.  I’ve checked the paddle numbers of people who’ve left bids, noted those I’m bidding for and whom I have to phone (Charmian will phone one because two people have booked calls for the same lot).  I’ve printed off new paddle numbers, got the printer ready with sheets of A5, bought food, though shedloads of sandwiches have to be prepared in the morning … I don’t know, it feels something is missing.  We have to leave a bit earlier than usual because we have a couple of calls to make on the way, maybe that’s it, that I don’t feel there’s enough time.

This morning, I put washing in the tumble drier and pressed the ‘on’ switch and nothing happened.  The switch appears to be broken.  With 5 loads of washing waiting to be dried and me going out most of the day, this wasn’t entirely convenient.  Normally, I’d have put washing on the line of course, but there just wasn’t time.  So it’s all draped over an airer in the kitchen or has been dried in my back-up tumble drier (of course, did you doubt me?).  I don’t have a boiler room or an airing cupboard, there’s not a lot of scope for drying things indoors, even though this is a biggish house.

The odd thing is though that I’ve had an impulse several times this week to buy an airer.  It hasn’t been convenient, so I hadn’t – I’d assumed that this frugal impulse had come to me because of the increase in fuel prices, but I’ve long learned that if I have a yen to buy something I should do it, because the need will become apparent within days.  And so it did, so I nipped out to the Factory Shop and got it – 20% reduction for the day, fortuitously – but it is odd.   Like, a couple of weeks ago I had an urge to buy pine nuts and then, browsing through cookery books a few days later, I wanted to make something with pesto and was able to make it, but that thought could have sprung into my mind because I had the ingredients.  But in this case, I had no indication that the machine would go wrong.  It worked last time I used it, it’s been fine.

Anyhoo.  We’ve got the house-sitter booked, everything ready to go.  And by the end of the month, we can forget all about the auctions.  For, oh, weeks.  Almost until 2013, with any luck.

Oh, forgive me darlings, for I am going to be immodest.  I was immensely appreciative today when my appearance was described as “stunning.”  I was wearing my 30-year-old quilted jacket, I don’t claim the credit.  All the same, I take compliments wherever possible at my age.  And I had my hair cut yesterday, so I was a bit less scruffy than usual in the personal grooming stakes.

Right.  Enough boasting and I apologise.  Darlings, I’m going to have an early night.  The Sage has gone upstairs already.  He’s very good, he’ll have put on the electric blanket so that I can snuggle down after I’ve had a bath.  I think I shall make a nice cup of tea to take up with me.

I voted, by the way.  I don’t think all that many did though, did they?

Z tackles the web

I don’t hate housework, but it rarely takes priority.  However, tomorrow morning will have to be set aside to clean the house.

It’s not that I haven’t done anything of course, the kitchen and bathroom have to be kept reasonably hygienic, if not tidy, and I’m up to date with the washing and I even hoovered a bit the other day and wiped dust off surfaces that show up most when the sun shines, but it’s not enough and I’ll have to work until it’s done.

But it’s so tedious, if not unpleasant.  There’s satisfaction in sorting out a really messy room or cleaning something filthy, but just routine wiping of every surface whether the dust is visible or not, changing the bed linen in chilly bedrooms, hoovering the ceilings to get rid of spiderwebs (whilst being careful not to catch any spiders, of course), moving furniture – no, none of it is my idea of a good time.  So I set a series of time limits.  I set a timer on my phone and that gives me an incentive not to dawdle.  Twenty minutes to clean the bathroom, for example, half an hour for my bedroom (it’s just a little bit untidy, I have to confess), another half hour for the rest of upstairs, and so on.  Breaking the time down gives me a sense of urgency and prevents me stopping to read for a while or breaking for a cup of coffee when I take the laundry downstairs.

I should get a cleaner of course, and one day I probably shall, but I’ve never come across one who works as fast as I do when I get going, so it feels a bit of a waste.  Anyway, it’ll be worth it.  It will last for weeks once it’s done.  

Lovely Mary

Today was the funeral of my mother’s best friend in the village.  Mary was fabulous.  Tall, blonde with flamboyantly stylish dress sense and a love of big hats, loving and enthusiastic with never a bad word to say about anyone, she had a wonderful singing voice and a love of entertaining.  She used to hold musical evenings with a group of friends from church and the Choral Society and 100 or so people would crowd into the hall (her son bought the local Big House some 30 years ago and Mary and her husband Jack lived in an apartment there) and afterwards have supper.  She was born in 1915 and loved the music of the 1930s and 40s, but I’m not sure of the vintage of the song whose chorus she used to make the audience sing along to (I should have checked the words, forgive me darlings) – “Hang on the bell, Nelly, hang on the bell, Your poor father’s locked in a cold prison cell, As it swings to the left and it swings to the right, Remember, the curfew must never ring tonight.”  Nelly’s father was going to be hanged when the curfew bell sounded, but a pardon was on its way, as I remember.

The reading chosen for the service was the first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, the one about love, or charity if you prefer the King James version.  My mother chose the same passage.  And here are verses 4 to 7 for you.  I don’t know which translation it comes from.

Love is patient, love is kind;
Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude;
Love does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in right.

Love bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things.
Mary married in 1939 and before then worked at the Pinewood Studios in Elstree, retouching negatives for publicity stills.  She showed us some of the pictures.  One in particular I remember was of herself, when she was standing in for a film star – I can’t remember who, blonde and slender.  She had her back to the camera, it was against a window, looking out at a garden – might have been in a conservatory, I can’t remember that either.  But she showed us before and after pictures, where a leaf that caught the eye was touched out, so was a wrinkle on the dress, a slight bulge at the waist as she swayed to one side – there’s nothing new about the camera deceiving the eye.

Eleventh day of the eleventh month

Of all the shocking statistics of the First World War, one of the most shameful is that hostilities didn’t cease on the morning of Armistice Day.  Between the signing of the armistice at 5 am and when it came into effect at 11 am, the killing continued.  863 men, I think it was, died in those 6 hours.

As always, the congregation listened intently as the Roll of Honour was read out from our three villages for the two wars, 25 men having been lost from my own little village in the first war alone.  I say this every year, but I’m afraid I’m still going to.

I didn’t let anyone down, I’m relieved to say, I played the Last Post and Reveille to the best of my ability, right speed, no fluffs, no wrong notes and I remembered to set the stopwatch so that the silence was exactly two minutes.  Several people thanked me afterwards, which was kind.  I wasn’t anxious on my own account, I promise, but not to let the occasion down.

I nearly came unstuck last night, mind you.  I was cooking dinner, mind drifting over this and that, and i suddenly remembered that I’d said I’d do an arrangement for the altar, which I’d meant to do on Friday and, failing that, on Saturday first thing but it was raining then.  I hastily grabbed a basket and secateurs and went into the garden to pick greenery, then scampered down to the church after dinner and did a speedy job with foliage and poppies.

And this morning, just in case I had forgotten, Gill brought some greenery so that she could rescue me if need be.  Isn’t that lovely?  Friends do look out for each other, it’s so kind.  I had to do it by 8 o’clock this morning though as there was a service then too.  Frosty overnight it was, but it’s a sunny day now and, I’m told, it’s set to warm up this week.  I’m glad to hear it.  The Aga receives its annual service on Tuesday and we’ll have to turn it off tomorrow night in readiness.


It was always going to be the mattress that would be the tricky bit.  We just had to hope it would fit in the Landrover.  Dora’s brother came along to help and we shoved and curved it and it was so nearly there.  The front seats were already upright because I don’t like leaning back, I always prefer to sit up straight, but I set them to lean forward and the extra inch or two made the difference.  I grabbed a handful of mattress and pulled, Ro slammed the door and we were in.  They have a memory foam mattress topper which we crammed into the front passenger seat and the car was full.  We filled Ro’n’Do’s car, Bro’s car and we were off.  When we arrived at the new house, I had to reverse into the drive fairly blind, but managed it with surprising aplomb (actually, this was the second trip and I’d practised first time around) and the youngsters looked impressed.  “Mind you,’ said Bro, “you’d have been fine if you’d had an accident on the way.  Very well padded.”  He meant the car interior, not my figure, darlings.

Ro’n’Do didn’t have any other furniture to move, except a small desk, as their previous home was furnished, so it was just their personal items, kitchen and bathroom stuff, television and so on.  All the same, it was eight carloads in total.  When I left them, they were going to have one last trip back to the flat to dust and hoover (they’d already cleaned the bathroom and kitchen – Ro asked me to check with my landlord’s eye and I gave it a good pass, but suggested he check with the landlady before handing the key back to ask if she had further requirements), then take some stuff to the dump and then … home.

Welcome to your new home, darlings.  Not that you’ll have internet access for a bit – how is it that most utilities get their act together promptly, but the phone and internet companies keep you waiting for ages? – but all things come, you’ve got heat and light in a lovely house with delightful, friendly neighbours and I hope you will be very happy there together.

They were apologetic for not feeding me, but they didn’t really have any food.  So I came home and, sometime after 3, ate an egg and a slice of toast.  A couple of spoonsful of yoghurt and a rice cake for breakfast, I’ve just had a bit of blue cheese, a few cherry tomatoes (the last of our own) and four green olives because it’s another hour until dinner is ready and I won’t last.  Tonight, roast chicken, leeks and courgettes. I’ve cooked potato for the Sage but not for me.  I haven’t weighed myself, but yesterday I wore a skirt I would last have fitted in when I was about 42.  But the waistband was slightly tight.  Discipline?  No, darlings, I am very easy-going, I will love you whatever you do.  But I choose my own path and it’s going to be a narrow one.