Monthly Archives: July 2023

Z packs a bag

As far as getting old is concerned, at least I’m not getting forgetful yet. Nor is my sister. Lucky us. I think I’ve got everything I want to take with me and have packed the car except for the coolbox. I’ve watered the greenhouse, picked all the produce and reminded Wink to keep picking and I’ve taken all the houseplants outside so that they’ll be easier to water.

Hop is hopefully sitting on her eggs still and has been for nearly a fortnight. Fingers crossed that a few hatch. Polly is very poor at sitting, but takes a turn while Hop goes for a drink and a poo. She never manages to squat on all the eggs, one or two are left out, but Hop is very conscientious. She is also walking better than she has for about 9 months.

My boot is supportive but not a pleasure to wear and my foot isn’t particularly comfortable. Getting it filthy, while washing the tennis court, then having to wash it, hasn’t done anything good for it. It took ages to dry out completely and yesterday, the sole of my foot was looking decidedly wrinkly from constant contact with damp boot. Fearing trench foot, I took the boot off for a couple of hours before going to bed, but it seems all right. Only three weeks more to wear it, which takes me nicely to the blog party. I think it may be removed a day or so early, as long as it seems healed.

I’ve bought a key safe to leave at the caravan. Last week, Tim’s brother and sister-in-law had a few spare days and asked if they could stay there – lovely to have it used, the whole extended family has an open invitation to use it. Getting a key was a bit complicated, but manageable, as Tim’s sister-in-law and her husband live nearby, but they are away quite a lot, visiting family on Jersey so, not wanting to bother the site manager, I think that finding a safe place and putting a key in the safe in the safe place will be good. I’m always afraid I might take the wrong set of keys with me, so it’s emergency backup for me too.

Silence from me for the next week, internet coverage is still very poor there. Have a good week!

Z verges on being introspective, so veers away again

A lot of family birthdays and anniversaries are coming up in the next six weeks and I want to take the whole family out to lunch for a celebration. It turned out that the only good day is Sunday, 3rd September. Every other day does not suit someone, but all 14 of us should be okay for that.

I was awake for my customary 4 hours in the night, though I’d slept soundly for 2 hours and then again for another 3 or 4. Some nights, I just spend a long time in bed. I probably doze more than I think I do.

I’ve been thinking about dependency. It’s not easy to accept you need help. I know that I can’t or don’t want to do everything that I’d have done without question when I was younger and I’m happy to employ people – I used to do my own painting and decorating, for example, but now I’d rather pay for someone else to do it. But being actually dependent is a tricky prospect. A lot of people carry on driving, long after they should give up, because it’s symbolic of their independence, for just one example.

I wasn’t good at accepting help, because I had a dread of being a nuisance. Eventually, I realised that always turning people away was a rebuff, not a kindness. I finally learned to say Yes Please and lean a bit more. But there’s a fine line again, one can come to be a nuisance if demands are made. I certainly do accept help more than I used to, not least because friends don’t have to offer and, if they do, they probably mean it.

I really hope I don’t get difficult in my old age. My dearest wish is that I don’t. I recognise that I may be deluding myself, in the assumption that I’m not *that* difficult now – but I do worry about losing whatever sensitivity I have.

Anyway. I’ve cut back the grape vine in the greenhouse, which has a stupendous crop, but I leave the door open for the cats, so probably the birds will eat most of the grapes. I cut them back – just the end shoots – so that Wink can get in to water while I’m away. I have washed all my summer clothes and I’ve returned my library books and done some last-minute shopping. Tomorrow, i’ll pack and on Monday I’ll leave for Ro’s house at about 7.30. In the actual morning. He wants to be on the road, having picked up the children from their mother’s house, at about 9 o’clock. He’ll be driving. It’s not that he minds being driven as such, but he still tends to feel carsick on a long journey, unless he’s behind the wheel.

Z gathers moss

Some of the family asked about the very neglected tennis court, so I’ve been clearing it, or rather having it cleared, as I haven’t done much of the work myself. Wince cleared the weeds, but there was a thick layer of moss, most of which was dead. I investigated hiring a power washer and the local company had a new one on order, but it wasn’t expected until Monday. However, it arrived yesterday, so it was delivered today and Wince (mostly) and I have been clearing up. It was a lot of work. A lot. Turned out that one day wasn’t enough – that is, a full day’s work might have done it, but Wince couldn’t stay later than 3 and I couldn’t carry on into the late afternoon. So I’ve got to do the last three eighths of it tomorrow. All the moss has been whooshed into the sides, so it’ll have to be cleared away, but that can wait until another week.

Yesterday, I felt as if my foot was on the brink of pins and needles, quite a lot of the time, so I wiggled my toes each time until the feeling went away, but it’s much better today, so I probably had the boot a bit tight. I’d been ready to go to hospital tomorrow, just to be checked, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need to. It’s much more comfortable and just needs support. Thank goodness I didn’t need plaster. And now it’s not even ten o’clock, but I am going to bed. Wince is kindly coming at 7 tomorrow, before going to work, to get the washer ready for me – he put it in the secure barn for safekeeping, but it’s heavy to pull across the gravel. He is very kind. I have bought a lovely new wheelbarrow, to make his life easier.

Z entertains

It’s been a lovely couple of days. Our great friends Lawrie and Lynn came to stay for a night. I’d promised them a blog party and had to say it was postponed, so invited other friends round for dinner instead.

Years ago, I used to do this regularly. I say “I” because it was all led by me, the Sage enjoyed it but did nothing about the organisation. I’d suggest a ‘dinner party’ – I’m going back to the days we called it that – and work out a guest list. In the early days, there were six of us, so we had to invite two or three more couples so that the guests wouldn’t be outnumbered by family. Usually, someone couldn’t come, so I asked if they’d be free the next week? Often they were, so that needed a new guest list for a new dinner party. Balancing friends/people who might not yet know each other/making sure no one would clash took some happy thought. Usually, I ended up with three get-togethers over three or four Saturdays and could then look forward to a whole lot of return invitations.

I may come back to this, I’m just getting into my reminiscence stride. But this is about yesterday and today.

I asked a couple, A and D and a single friend, H. A single person was deliberate because it so often happens that they’re left out or an extra singleton is asked, to balance them. Also, she’s great fun and I like her a lot, as I do A and D. I knew it would go well, without effort from me.

Lynn, who’s now 83, has Alzheimer’s, sadly. She isn’t quite as well as the last time we saw her, last year. But she still does her best to join in conversations and be part of the party. Lawrie is ten years younger, they got married the same year as Russell and I did and Wink and I are going to their Golden Wedding celebration in September.

Lawrie kindly took me to get some bags of chicken feed and put them in the feed bin, with one sackful into the food hopper, so that’s saved me a lot of trouble. Today, we went out for lunch and the Ls insisted on paying. It’s been such a happy couple of days, it was lovely to see them and also such a pleasure to do the straightforwardly friendly thing of asking friends round for an evening and feeding them. I must do this much more often.

Foot more loose than expected

Four years ago, on 10th July 2019, I broke the fifth metatarsal in my left foot. I just stumbled, nothing major, but I had to use a surgical boot for the next month. Guess what? I’m not sure which bone, I think it’s a bit further up the foot, but I’ve done it again. I had been kneeling for an hour or so, sorting out papers and, when I came to stand up, my foot had gone to sleep. I thought it would bear my weight, but it didn’t. I heard a soft crunch.

I had the boot from last time, so I’m reasonably comfortable. I’ll be too busy tomorrow but, if I’m concerned, I’ll go to the hospital on Wednesday. Probably not, though. I’m pretty sure I don’t need a diagnosis or treatment. Luckily, it’s my left foot so I can drive.

Only 9 o’clock, but I’m inclined to give up on the day and go and read in bed.

A high wind in Yagnub … or not

There should have been a local food market under the Buttercross today but, in view of the very poor weather forecast, it was called off. High winds and driving rain were prophesied – I’m sure the weather forecast has not improved in its details in the last decades. A minor form of the rainstorm arrived this afternoon, but it was nothing like the forecast and the fair could have gone ahead. Still, Wink and I went into town for our shopping, just to the greengrocer and deli. Someone had brought in some field mushrooms, proper wild ones and I snapped up the biggest. It was about 8 inches, or 20cm if you’re of that persuasion, in diameter. I put it in a dish of a similar size, added half a red pepper, the long sort with thin walls, a couple of freshly harvested garlic cloves, some spring onions, drizzled it all with olive oil and baked it for ten minutes or so. Then I added some hummus, made with additional spinach and lemon and baked again and, for the final couple of minutes, a thick slice of mozzarella, to melt over it. Very good.

You will, if you’ve been a blog follower for some years, remember Mike Horner, of the splendid moustaches and beard. His blog was The Armoury. He and Ann are such lovely people, two of the very best. Sadly, Mike has had Alzheimer’s for several years now and it’s progressed. I last spoke to Ann about a year ago – my fault for not keeping in better touch. Liz, the Small Bear told me that Ann had said that Mike is now in a care home and I phoned Ann this morning. No good news, I’m afraid, Mike is unhappy with life and she would love to have him home, but she knows she couldn’t cope. She is well and we will meet up soon – I’d hoped to take her out to lunch next week but various family members are with her each day, so I’ll ring her again when I’m back from Pembrokeshire.

The dismal effects of Alzheimer’s can’t be exaggerated. Mike was so knowledgeable and intelligent and now he can’t access any of the sharp mind he used to have. Tim and I last saw them 4 years ago, when they were about to move house, but then lockdown came along and there was never another opportunity to meet.

With the postponement of the blog party, I had to email my friends, who should have coincidentally been here on that day, to say that it wasn’t going to happen after all. But then I thought again, so have invited friends round for dinner. This is a rare event – not really as rare as I think it is, because one friend came for lunch the other day and another had come to stay for a few nights last week. But actually planning supper and getting it organised days in advance – not really a dinner party because it’ll be simpler than that, but it might as well be. I used to do that sort of thing and then couldn’t cope with it any more, because of my mother’s health and the repercussions from that. I’ve never recovered my social life in over 20 years. I broke and have never mended fully. Though I love having lots of people here, cooking for them and sitting back, watching them laugh and chat – not that I don’t join in, of course – I stopped arranging it, which is such a shame. I’d like to think that this will be my next step on the road back to finding the Z I used to be, albeit older and less sanguine. But sociable.

Blog party date

It’ll be on Sunday, 20th August. This will work out nicely, as I’m looking after Weeza and co’s dog while they’re on holiday and they will turn up very early on Sunday to pick up Izzy. I’d rather that was on the day of the party rather than the very early morning afterwards. If anyone would like to stay on the Saturday night as well as or instead of the Sunday (or on into the following week if you’d like to explore the area) then you’re very welcome.

As usual, it will be lunchtime, around 12.30 but just turn up when you like.

As for today, I’m about to reach the age when I have to renew my driving licence. I could do it at any time within 90 days before my birthday, but I’d used it as identification in a couple of places, so waited until the formalities had gone through so that the date would be correct. So I’ve done it today. I didn’t need to send in a new photo, remarkably, though they’d previously used my passport photo that is now 10 years old. I’ll apply for my new passport soon. It runs out in December and I’m not planning to go abroad this year, so there’s no rush.

I’ve also paid my tax bill. Not much point in having it hanging over me for the next ten days, I just got it out of the way. I’m not great at admin, but I am good about paying bills promptly. Indeed, when the Aga service guy came today, I’d paid his account online before he was in his van and away. He says that I’ll need a new ignition and burner next year. I didn’t ask the cost, I don’t really care as it’ll be so much easier to light. After all, an Aga is so ludicrously expensive to run nowadays that the cost of parts hardly makes a difference. I still love my Aga and wouldn’t be without it. I manage with two electric rings, an air fryer and a microwave for the summer. My sister’s cooker will be called into use for the party, though.

Animals, mostly

Lunch out today, with a number of friends who are all older than I am. They think I’m young. Bless them. Darlings, value your older friends because, to them, you are always young. Downside of that is that they die, so have younger friends too.

Anyway. I have, quite possibly, rambled.

Hop, the limping bantam, is broody. She insisted on sitting on her eggs and I didn’t have the heart to take them away for a few days, though they’re infertile – but on Monday, I thought it was worth putting a few fertilised eggs under her, just in case. I’m going to be away until the Saturday or Sunday before three weeks is up, I wouldn’t wish to land Wink with looking after chicks. I will give her instructions, just in case they hatch early. The funny thing is, Hop has come off the eggs a couple of times, just for a minute or two and she is walking better than she has for the last 8 months. Today, she popped out into the run, did a massive poo and went back to sit, walking without a limp. I’ve been feeding her, as I don’t want her to lose strength, though sitting hens can go the full 3 weeks without food and water, if need be.

I’m sure I’ve written before about Solo, the injured feral cat. His face is still dreadful, poor boy, a great strip of skin was torn off in a fight and he’s lost the sight of an eye and it’s still red raw. I can’t catch him, though he’s trusting enough to wait for food. He sometimes vanishes for more than a week, so he must still be catching food, as he isn’t thin. I would love to take care of him, but that would involve trapping him and taking him to the vet and it is not possible. i could set a trap, but one of the others would go into it. He’s reasonably friendly and not at all aggressive, but too wary to be caught.

After Wink found a sleeping hedgehog by Mama Cat’s dish, a week ago, I’ve made sure I’ve put down extra food at ground level. The previous evening, I’d forgotten to take the eggs in, but left them in a dish by Hop and Polly’s coop. Next day, they’d all been eaten, though there was some yolk left in a couple of the shells. I’m pretty sure it was a hedgehog, maybe the sleepy one. So I didn’t mind, though minding would have been pointless. I put pans of water out in dry weather (it’s raining right now) and now, extra food. Maybe rats will get the benefit, but I trust that cats will go for them.

The night before last – or rather, the early morning – a bird fell down the bedroom chimney. Stupid little fucker. So very stupid. There’s a 6-foot tall chimney pot on top of that chimney, about 8 inches in diameter, so there’s no chance that a bird can escape upwards. So I removed the chest of drawers in front of the fireplace, shut all the curtains except one and opened a window and left it. In fact, because I had several phone calls (I know, how retro), I forgot to shut the window before going to Norwich, so it was open all day and I hoped and assumed the pigeon – probably – had left.

Daybreak showed it hadn’t. So I opened everything up again. I have no idea whether it’s still there. I’ll shut my bedroom door, so that eCat can’t come in (unless she complains, because I’ll obey her whim) and leave the windows open tonight. Wretched little thing. Maybe I’ll sleep in the spare room until it falls down and realises it’s free.

The late evening sun is shining now. Very changeable weather.

Tentative blog party news

It looks as if the party will be on the 19th or 20th August. I’ll update soon.

What has made me happiest about the blog parties, over the last 12 or so years, is that – obviously – I’ve met good friends I’ve made online and, in person, we’ve firmed up our friendship, but even more that some of you have become friends through the blog parties and met in between times. It’s a real pleasure to me.

I had various things in the post today, which looked official so I avoided opening them until this evening. One was my DBS certificate – Disclosure and Barring Service, that is – the proof that I’ve never been caught doing something I shouldn’t, therefore am deemed reliable to be among children and other vulnerable people. I already have a DBS certificate in regard to the school trust, but it’s not transferable, so I had to jump through the same hoops for the church. It only proves my name isn’t flagged up but, of course – obviously, indeed – there’s nothing there anyway. I’m as squeaky clean as they come. I’d say that, of course…

The rest of the post all, apart from newspapers, was about Tim’s bank accounts. Finally, they’ve been closed. This has been a slog. I sent in everything to prove his death and my identity. About a year ago, they said it was all okay and the money in his accounts would be paid to me. It wasn’t. I’d been overwhelmed enough by everything else, mainly the sale of his house and I didn’t do anything about it. A few weeks ago, there was a query so I had to start it all up again.

Now I’ve only got one more set of hoops to jump through and it’ll be sorted out. It won’t help. It’ll be two years, in another 7 weeks, since Tim died and nothing has started to feel any better. 9 years, nearly, since Russell died. Really not good at all. But dwelling on it doesn’t help either. Chin up and pretend is better.

Now that the blog party is postponed, I have some spare time next week – not on the original day, in fact, as other friends are coming to stay then. But I am resolved to turn out the study. I’ve asked Wink to hold me to it. She has authority to nag. I promise not to hate that.

Blog party postponed…

The blog party date proves to have been an unlucky one. Rose had to cry off early but three more messages have been received in the last week, potentially up to six more people, with unavoidable priorities. So, as everyone has to travel a fair distance, so it would be a pity to come all this way just for a few people, I’ve suggested postponing.

I’ve got quite a busy time coming up for the next few months, but the second half of August is possible. Otherwise, late November/early December. I asked on Facebook and several people prefer a relatively earlier date. So, at present, I’m nearly always okay between Sunday 20th August and the first weekend in September. If you’d like to stay, you’re very welcome over that period, any time.