Monthly Archives: November 2014

Z stirs the mix

Today, I suddenly decided to make the Christmas pudding and cake.  It wasn’t at all on my mind yesterday, I don’t quite know what happened, but the thought came to me in the early hours and I knew I had the ingredients, except the eggs.  The chickens do not lay well at present and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s their breed – these fancy pedigree bantams aren’t bred for winter egg laying and that’s that.  I like the common or garden brownish bantams myself, but the Sage liked to have fabulous cockerels and they were his chickens.  Anyway, an egg or two a day is quite enough normally, but I didn’t have enough and had to go down to the farm.

I’m not sure why I made a socking great 8 inch cake, I had to give the remains of last year’s to the chickens and Russell ate most of it, I hardly touched it.  I like Christmas cake but I don’t often eat between meals, unless it’s Twiglets and they tend to replace a meal if I have more than three or four.  Anyone who visits will be given a slice, assuming it turns out all right, so be warned.  It looks fine, anyway.

I’m absurdly sleepy and am going to bed soon, though it’s not yet 9 o’clock.  I will take the papers with me.  I’ve just got a couple of emails to write first – a dear friend of nearly 97 years had a stroke last Monday and her nephew has kindly included me in emailed family updates, for me to disseminate to other friends.  I’m happy to say that she is doing very well and now up to having visitors, so I must let people know.

Z acts and reacts

I sometimes sit here and wonder what to write about.  I know I’m not alone, in that I write blog posts in my head during the day and sometimes react to an unusual event by thinking ‘Ah!  Blog material!’  Often, however, having mentally written the post, I either forget about it or find that it doesn’t need to be revisited and so it never makes it here.  Quite often, I become quite earnest and want to write a post on something I feel strongly about – this doesn’t have to be momentous in itself, I’m just an enthusiastic sort of person – but I strive to be brief and I become obscure (Horace, darlings, but I’ll spare you the Latin, which I’d have to look up to check anyway) and I get bogged down in explanations before I even start writing.

I feel overwhelmed by all that is to be done here and have to focus on little bits at a time, so that I can deal with them and even feel satisfaction when something is completed.  I can talk and laugh and enthuse and concentrate on quite complex matters, and then I’ll suddenly find it hard to speak and have to take several deep breaths before I can talk without my voice breaking.  It’s a bugger, darlings.  I don’t know where I am.  My emotions fluctuate and sometimes it’s a feeling of great love and sometimes a sort of fury that keeps me going, and then it’s also habit, routine and necessity and I know that the hopes and intention I speak of are an invention, a pretence that gives me the impetus to drive forward.  It doesn’t matter if I care or not, but I have to act as if I do.

Do one thing for me…

I arrived home about an hour ago (it’s now 9.20) and have just had scrambled eggs and a glass of wine – just the one, darlings.  It seems I don’t miss booze when I don’t have it (I could have, of course, Zig doesn’t keep a dry house, just isn’t quite up to wine herself at present) and I’m not at all surprised to find I can take it or leave it, even if my normal choice is to take it…

I called on Mig for lunch and she sends her love to all.  I do hope everyone can get together for next year’s blog party.  It’s possible that it may be the last in this house (I have such mixed feelings about leaving, but I know it’s the right thing to do and the sooner the better.  Hard things don’t get easier for being delayed), not that it needs to be the last party if people are still good-natured enough to come along.

As ever, it\s a bit melancholy being home alone, other than Ben, not that I’m lonely as such.  It’s just that darling Zig and all the animals are so lovely.  Her aunt and uncle arrived just before I left and Baby Doc was due this evening, so she is being cherished as she should be.  Hold her in your hearts, darlings.  She’s strong and courageous, but it’s a tough time for her.


Zig leads Zed astray

We’ve had a productive day today, after a rather late start – this was my fault because I was awake for a few hours in the night and, when I finally fell asleep again, I overslept dreadfully. So we had an early lunch before heading out to do errands and visiting the ponies, which was combined with giving the dogs a run. Zig hadn’t been out and about for a few days so she was ready for the fresh air.

When we got home, she introduced me to the deliciousness of fruit from the freezer – berries, that is – microwaved until hot and eaten with ice cream. Darlings, it’s gorgeous and will certainly be my new thing. She had some lovely local honeycomb ice cream which suited it extremely well. And now we are eating fruit and nut Toblerone, which I had not come across before, and we’re both deliberately eating too much of it, just because.

Im off home tomorrow, calling in on Mig on the way for lunch.  ive lost track of what I’m doing, but I have a fresh determination to get on with more of the paperwork.  I can leave it as long as I like, but it’ll still be up to me to get things going again, however long it takes, so JFDI is to my advantage in the end


Z is quiet

Bertie the terrier is washing Indi the spaniel. He has his paw firmly on her ear to keep her still while he washes her face. It’s rather sweet.

I took the dogs for a long walk this morning; they hadn’t had one since Baby Doc, Zig’s younger daughter, was here at the weekend. They’ve got the garden to go out in of course, but love to have a good run in the fields. I walked them through the village, the half mile or so to the ponies’ field and then carried on along the path before letting them off their leads. I hadn’t realised that the path would go down while the land went up and, as it’s rained a lot the past couple of days, the track was pretty boggy. So I went back and started again on the higher ground of the arable field.

The ponies were pleased to see me too and I gave them apples – other friends are giving them hay, though they’ve still got plenty of grass so don’t need much feeding yet.

Im catching up on a few emails but my apologies if I owe you a letter. I don’t hugey enjoy writing for long on the iPad, it’s the same reason I still use a desktop computer: that I don’t like bending over the keys. At home, I often sit in silence all evening doing very little, maybe reading. I simply like the peace, but I haven’t the ability to do much else.

Since ive been here, I haven’t had any alcohol and I rather crave food instead – over and above meals, that is. I wisely brought some Twiglets with me (if you’re a facebook friend, you’ll know I eat them rather frequently, sometimes instead of meals though I also often describe the delicious meals I cook for myself). But I usually resist – however, I remembered that Zig mentioned the very delicious ice cream in her freezer and – well, you can imagine. Zig herself is asleep at the moment. She wasn’t hungry earlier and I could see she needed a rest, so came down to do some work and have supper.

Z drops in to say hello

I’ve been neglectful, darlings, I’m sorry.  Lovely Charlotte stayed on after Sunday’s party and yesterday I was very busy getting things sorted out before, today, coming down to visit Zig again. She started chemotherapy last Thursday and isn’t feeling great and, with my usual optimism that my very presence will do some good, I insisted on coming to see her.

Now I’m in bed with two dogs and a kitten and I’m absurdly sleepy and I don’t think I can write much more tonight. The party was lovely, Suleha was duly charmed to see me in my sari and we assured each other that  – no, that’s not what I mean – each assured the other that she was beautiful.  I’m afraid that no photos were taken of us, though several were taken of the food!

Zig was concerned that I have too much to do at home to stay here all week, so I’ve simply brought a box of paperwork with me. I’m not at all sure if I’ll get it done, but let’s hope I’ll do something. In fact, I got a vital job done before I left, that had been hanging over me and worrying me for ages but which I felt unable to deal with, just because paperwork makes me cry at the minute. So having a deadline was excellent, because now I’ve done it and that’s one thing that doesn’t have to be done again.

Z makes lists – and ticks things off

I’ve gone for a very simple cold meal, very similar to the last blog party, except simpler salads because some of the children might prefer ingredients not to be mixed, and I’m doing some of the puddings, all of which you lovely people brought in June – with the result that I ate nine helpings.  So the whole ham is cooked and cooling, the chickens are cooked, the salmon is yet to be cooked in the morning, the sausage rolls are made but not cooked, the sausages are yet to be cooked.  The queen of puddings is cooked up to the jam and meringue stage, the sauce for the sticky toffee pudding is made but not the pud itself, the chocolate orange soufflé is made.  Weeza has brought apple crumble and a chocolate orange cake, two other people are bringing cold desserts.  I’ve got cheese, bread and various etceteras.  I need to skin the cooked ham tonight and put away some papers.  I remembered to put Edweena away where she won’t be disturbed.  Bex and family are having Ben for the day.

I feel lonely, dammit.  But one has to face up to things.  They don’t get easier later, if one ducks out of a situation now.

If I get my act together and am ready in time tomorrow, I shall wear a sari, which I hope will please my co-mother-in-law, Suleha.  We mums must stick together!

Z obsesses about tortoises

It’s a pleasure to watch Natasha warming herself up under the lamp in the morning.  She stretches her neck out so that as much heat as possible gets to her skin.  She doesn’t spend all day under the lamps by any means, but scampers about the whole area of her run, clearly enjoying the ability to roam about.  I have gravel, sand, earth and weeds in various places, with big pieces of bark, large stones and pieces of chalk for her.  Anastasia has refused to stay awake and has burrowed herself away again.  I suppose I’ll have to resign myself to hibernating them separately and I’ll bring A indoors when I want her to wake up and N to go to sleep.

I must remember to put the box with Edweena in to a safe place where children can’t find her. There will be ten of them here on Sunday, of various ages, and I can’t be sure that they will all resist the temptation to open the box and look at her.  She’s in the coldest bedroom at present but I’ll put her in a wooden box as well as her cardboard one and put her into the attic.

I like these tortoises but I worry about them more than is healthy.  They should be such relaxing pets, I’m sure.

I’m not far off being ready for Sunday lunch, though I’ve had a lot of callers today and it was far more fun to chat to them than to get on with housework.  Anyway, the wine I ordered has turned up, all three dozen bottles, including the crate of Prosecco that will be called on (or rather a bottle of it at a time) whenever anyone feels anything less than cheerful. It’s sort of the opposite of the importance of being earnest.

Z digs up a Tot

Bex came round to take Ben for a walk and I told her the woeful tale of the missing Tot, as we watched Natasha whizzing round the run at a tortoise-gallop.  I explained how I’d been all over the soft soil and was starting on the more compacted and I demonstrated – ah.  A small tortoise was startled to be dug up and flipped onto the ground.  I hastily covered her again while I thought about it a bit… and then I decided she should be woken up.

I had already put Edweena into a box for hibernation today.  She hasn’t been out for a few weeks and was clearly determined to sleep.  I weighed the box, with its newspaper and hay lining, then zeroed it and added Edweena to get her weight, then added the two, so I can weigh it in a few weeks’ time to check she isn’t losing too much weight.  I didn’t bother with this last year, but was just quite anxious about her and maybe this will reassure me a bit.  At least, if I think she’s at any risk, I can warm her up and get her feeding again, but she should be ok for the next three or four months.  I really don’t want the Tots to hibernate separately from each other, it’ll be a nuisance.  I’d like to keep them going for another couple of months and then hibernate them during (probably) the coldest part of the winter.  If it gets a bit nippy in the porch, even with their heat lamps, I can bring them indoors in a box into the kitchen.  They won’t be thrilled at the lack of space, but they’ll be all right.  I know, I spoil those tortoises.

I went shopping, mostly for soft drinks and dog food and clearly thought that I’ve far too much time on my hands, because I also bought flowers, came home and picked greenery and spent the next hour arranging them.  Yes, I know you should condition the foliage overnight, but I didn’t.  I have two arrangements for the dining rooms and have not got a lot else done today.

This evening, I went to a car club meeting.  Russell has been a member of the local classic car club for years and the chairman thoughtfully phoned me the other day to suggest I might like to come along to the next meeting, where there would be a speaker about Nelson (no, nothing about cars) and I’d be made very welcome.  Not being one to turn down overtures of friendship, I went.  One feels a bit uncertain, venturing in for the first time alone, but all you need to do is plaster a smile on your face and keep it there.  I was disconcerted when the chairman, introducing the speaker, also welcomed me publicly but I kept the grin fixed.  It slipped at the end when the treasurer gave me a cheque (I’d suggested that, if people wanted to give donations in Russell’s memory rather than flowers at his funeral, they should go to having the church railings repainted).  She apologised that she hadn’t sent it sooner, but Russell had been one of the cheque signatories and it had, therefore, taken a while to get the paperwork sorted out for a new one.  He had always been very good to the club, I know, and regularly quietly paid the rent at the village hall for their annual auto jumble sales for many years.

The duvet day

The phone rang at 7.15 and a child was crying in the background.  Hadrian wasn’t feeling well and Dilly couldn’t leave him at nursery school.  Of course, I said she was welcome to bring him here and I scuttled around to feed the dog and the chickens, walk Ben and light the drawing room fire.   Dilly had time for a cup of tea, so I sat them down and went to fetch a duvet too.

Poor little Hay was very subdued, didn’t want any breakfast and just snuggled down and dozed a lot of the time.  Just before 11, I noticed his mouth was turned right down and then two big tears rolled down his cheeks.  I was so sorry for him.  I gave him a spoonful of Calpol and the effect was prompt.  Within ten or fifteen minutes, his temperature was lower and he accepted a glass of Ribena and nibbled a little biscuit.

Al picked him up in the afternoon and later texted me to say that he was feeling rather better and happily went to pick up Squiffany and Pugsley from school.  Dilly doesn’t teach tomorrow, so she can look after him.  I sent my apologies for my morning meeting, but the auditor who was due to attend was stuck in traffic, so it was cancelled at the last minute, I discovered later.  Unfortunately, that means it’ll be rescheduled, of course.

A few days ago, when I counted the chickens in at the end of their day free-ranging, one was missing.  This wasn’t significant, they sometimes roost in a tree and come back the next day.  But she didn’t and, when I had let them out, I’d noticed that one chicken was looking extremely scruffy.  I assumed she had been picked on by the others (which isn’t something that normally happens) and was concerned, just hoping a day out would relax them.  But since then, I’d seen no sign of henpacking and I wondered if she’d been caught by a young fox and managed to get away, and if the second one hadn’t been so lucky.  I didn’t let them out at all over the weekend.  But a black one slipped past me this morning and I relented and let them all out.

When Al came to fetch Hay, I went to let them back – it was only about 1.30, but they don’t stay out long at this time of the year and they were all clustered around the hen run.  I fed them and counted them – and again.  Four times.  Definitely 28.  The missing chicken must have started sitting on eggs,, but when her cousins came out today, she decided to come home after all.  I’m so pleased.  It was one of the nice brown ones, I’m not sure which, and they’re among the better layers, apart from the sadness of losing one of them.

Which reminds me, I haven’t seen Anastasia since I got home.  Edweena is firmly preparing for hibernation, Natasha is out and about daily but little A must have burrowed down somewhere, she can’t have got out.  I wish I could find her, though.  I’ve dug out three of the trays of earth, but there are several more to go.  I can’t help worrying.