Friday 31 July 2015

It's Possible, Right?

First, thanks again for all the support.  I really appreciate it.  The skip may end up as a necessity.

Bear has managed to get the volume back on my phone.  It's only fair, he was the one who set it to silent when he was playing games as I was trying to sort out the whole registering thing.  He knows his way around my phone better than I do, and the password.  Darn.

I've just had an epic fail when I tried to convert inches to metres and instead converted them to feet and actually I think DH would have passed out if zillions of metres of white fleece turned up at the door.  It is bad enough for the stuff that will turn up (7 metres of fleece to line two sets of curtains, plus all the school shirts and vests for next year).

I've just had notice of how many of my father's relatives are likely to turn up at our house.  Many of them are extremely houseproud.  Even though I have never painted anything except tyres, and even though the house is in complete disorder, I can totally redecorate the entire house in less than 20 days, right?

Maybe not.

I'm grieving, but I am a believer in feeling what you are actually feeling, not what you ought to feel.  I am also remembering father's amazing zest for adventure and his 'can do' attitude and I have a tentative sense that I can actually get something done.  The last time I felt like this I painted the tyres and cleaned out the dining room.  I can still feel like I could break down but I also feel that it is the best opportunity to clear stuff.  If this carries on, one skip may not be enough.

If anything happens, I'll update.

Hope I'm getting it right

Today I finally got hold of the thingy from the doctor that I have to take to register the death.  Father died on Tuesday.  According to the government website I only have five days to register the death.  I only saw that last night after everything shut.  There are no appointments possible today.  Bugger.

According to the nice lady I spoke to, I have to register on Monday.  It should be okay.  It should be five days from getting the thingy from the doctor according to her.  I'll worry about it on Monday if there is a problem.

I left out the display cabinet for Emmaus to pick up as I was belting across town to pick up the dratted thingy.  I also left out a cd rack with a note saying they could have it as well.  They took the cd rack and left the display cabinet.  Sigh.

All sorts of stuff is strewn everywhere.  I feel utterly bewildered.  I've paid for bits here, I've sorted other stuff there, I've registered us to vote (admin for other things goes on) and I am running out of steam.

Bear is doing okay and promising to look after the lavender.  My view is that the lavender is big enough to look after itself and that some of those bees look like bouncers.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Darn it to Heck

I have been very tentatively clearing space in father's room.  It is a reasonable sized room and most estate agents would class it as a double bedroom.  It is not, however, a Tardis, and it hasn't been touched since father went into hospital last year and has had a lot of stuff dumped in there, including my sewing machine.

If I was there with a family member I know there would be lots of shuffling around saying things like, 'I don't know, what do you think?'  As it is, I'm just pootling on.  I have moved six bottles of bleach to the bathroom.  I have moved a dismantled shelf unit into the garden (we may end up getting a skip).  I have no idea what we are supposed to do with the metal detector.  I haven't even started on the top of the wardrobe, as father had lots of bright ideas that he didn't follow through (funny, that rings a bell).

I've just realised that tomorrow they are picking up the display cabinet.  I can't even reach the display cabinet due to other stuff being shifted around to fit in the piano, even though I have filled bag after bag.

It is really helpful, I'm getting so much sorted/thrown out/found a place for that I can't really grumble.  I am just a little more bewildered than I was this morning.  At least I can pick up the Death Certificate tomorrow.

Bear continues, well, just about okay, could be worse.


Thank you so much for all the kind messages.  They are really helping me, and I really appreciate them.  I feel very blessed and supported.  I feel lucky.  

I still feel in the centre of a whirlwind, but I suppose that is normal.  I just made the lady at the funeral parlour laugh like a drain talking about eBay being my friend.  I cried a lot more in the few days before than I am now, but it changes.  I will just feel how I feel.  It is what I have told bear to do, and I am taking my own advice.

I have decided to start clearing father's stuff, as any momentoes will be needed to be handed on at the funeral as people will come from a distance and I won't be seeing them for ages.  To get to the memories I have to get through a lot of rubbish.  He kept every service sheet he ever had from the Methodist church, literally hundreds. Thank goodness when I was last on Approved Food I accidentally went crazy on black bin bags.

Apart from chasing the death certificate and registering father as passed, I am doing no admin now until next week.  I will worry about that later.  Now I am worrying about other relatives in hospital, cuddling bear and generally trying to get the house fit for people visiting.  Also DH.  He needs a lot of cuddles.

There are still bright sides.  I was remembering father's face when I told the really lovely lady at the funeral parlour about the time I got 20 handbags for a very reasonable price and I couldn't physically lift the parcel.  I could imagine father's expression when I was asked whether I wanted to have a set of silver fingerprints kept from him.  Even the rain means that I don't have to water the garden.  There is always a bright side.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

A Piano Has Landed

The plush rat is bear's best pal and comfort cuddle toy.  Bear has needed a little extra support, even though it's from something that is a plush toy.  Ratatouille is still bear's best pal.  It took four men to get the piano into the house, came with an unexpected piano stool and is a lot louder than the keyboard.  It doesn't sound like it needs tuning.

I've spoken to funeral directors, who were lovely.  I've winced at the cost.  I've told everyone I can think of, I'm chasing various bits of paper.  I'm happier thinking about sorting out the vast quantities of stuff that got shifted to accomodate the piano than anything else.

Two of DH's relatives are in hospital.

Bear is doing okay.

Thank you so much for all the supportive messages.  They really help and mean a lot.

Just Passing Through

Father passed away yesterday afternoon.  So many reading this will know about the flurry of phone calls and bits of paper and confusion and grief that is happening here.  I was reading Ecclesiastes to father yesterday morning, and there is truly nothing new under the sun.

Bear is doing okay.  We all are.  I am not going to lie, I am bewildered and lost.  I shouldn't be, it was no surprise.  The doctors had been clear.  I am still working on it.  But we are doing okay.  Bear knows it is okay to be sad and okay to be happy.  He has no living grandparents now.  It is tough for him and he will be hearing far too many of the phone calls as it is in the middle of the summer holidays.  I suppose it gives him space to grieve.  Food, clean clothes and cuddles will continue to be provided for bear and DH and I will sort things out, small step by small step.  It looks like it may be several weeks before the funeral.  I'll be in limbo until then.  So expect random posts, crazed forays onto eBay, ramblings and, well, business as usual.

I found these two poems encapsulate the entire gamut of the experience for me.  Funeral Blues by WH Auden and Death in Leamington by John Betjeman

Thanks again for all the support.  It has been amazingly helpful and comforting.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

I Suppose It's Normal for Me

I want to say thank you to all the lovely support and kind words - you cannot believe how much that means to me.  I feel very lucky.  I'll be posting a lot of rubbish, I am sure, and I hope it won't get too irritating.

I am being normal for me.  The Approved Food order just arrived.  If you remember, it is not that long ago that I bought 108 toilet rolls at an extremely good price and barely adequate quality.  This was followed by another 18 rolls because I wanted to get a really big box for bear.  Now I have another 18 rolls - it was £1.50 for 18, this day only, and quite reasonable quality.  They will still not last as long as the vast swathes of wrapping paper, literally hundreds of Christmas Cards and stacks of bottle bags.  There are also a lot of envelopes.  Yesterday I bought three packs of breakfast bars in the Co-op when I called in to get father a paper.  We don't need breakfast bars.  We have a sufficiency due to a very good offer on Tesco's own and to be honest I'm trying to get bear back on to cereal.  However there was a deal where if you buy three packs you can get a free gift. I have no idea what.  I need to take the plunge and use my new glasses to read the small print, but they make me sea sick.

Bear is at the house of the former Nice Mr Next Door, playing with their grandson.  He was there all yesterday and was apparently no trouble.  I've called the care home, father had a quiet night.  He is not drinking.  I'm going to call in to the food bank where I would normally be helping today to say that I can't really manage it, and I'll go and visit father.  I'll probably post some more witterings when I get back.

Monday 27 July 2015

Made a very small start

I'm working on making a piano shaped hole.  I spent this morning with father - v poorly - but since then I have taken advantage of bear free time.  There has been some pleasant surprises.  I found a folder I used years ago before bear was born but when I was seriously depressed.  I used it to organise and it was awesome then.  I may have some shredding to do.

I've organised a pick up by Emmaus (who are brilliant) and I've found a ream of paper that I knew I had somewhere but couldn't find so things are good.  There are around 50 rolls of wrapping paper, mostly full but some half used.  I can proudly say I paid full price for none of them.  I also have a plethora of bottle bags, due to father's habit of giving bottles as presents.  I stocked up and then forgot I had stocked up.

I need to get it together.

I am pausing now as I have various bits of furniture half in and half out, piles of stuff and general chaos.  Bear is due home soon, as is DH.  DH likes order and lack of clutter.  He is feeling fragile as well.

Off to get a wiggle on.

Thank you for all the good wishes.  I know so many people have gone through this stage - many in far worse circumstances.  I am very grateful for the support I am getting.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Awful Weather

It isn't really bad weather for October, it's just a shame it's July.

Bear continues to enjoy his holiday.  He is away tomorrow at a friend's house so I plan to clear a load of stuff out and visit father.

On Wednesday, all being well, we are getting a piano.  It is free to a good home and we were recommended, to my surprise.  We will have to pay for the man plus man plus van and for it to be tuned, but it is still extremely inexpensive when you consider that we are getting a real piano instead of a keyboard.  We will look upwardly aspirational.

Before we can pretend to be the sort of people who casually have pianos I have to do some serious furniture shifting.  The current plan is get rid of the two display units that are either side of the fireplace.  They are not big enough for the things we want to display and the one that father brought with him is falling to pieces.  It is also filled with dozens and dozens and dozens of envelopes that I got at an extremely good price and some remarkably good bargains in stationery.  The 700 Christmas cards and the large quantities of wrapping paper a stacked nearby.  The other display case is lovely but just the wrong size.  I am going to try and donate it.  Then we will go to IKEA and get a large display case (ouch - how much!) and chairs for the dining room.  The stationery can go in the old sea chest which is full of stuff that hasn't seen the light of day since before bear was born.  I can't wait to find out what is in there.

So I am planning on moving two display cabinets, a sea chest and a keyboard.  I will be installing (all things being equal) a display cabinet and a piano.  For the display cabinet to work I need to get rid of the CD storage tower and move two large, very well filled bookcases about six inches to the left.  There is also a two drawer filing cabinet I am considering donating, but I'm not planning to replace that - and besides it is in another room.

I also have to sort through a sea chest, a smallish display cabinet, a two drawer filing cabinet that I can't currently open properly as it is full, two bookcases, a CD storage tower and, well, the entire room, including the third bookcase as I may as well while I'm at it.  There is a very large desk that bear has colonised and has large drawers full of miscellaneous that may as well be full of bear's miscellaneous.  This is a tough target if I want to get most of it done by Wednesday.  I do not have a good track record on following things through with plans.

On the other hand, father was discharged from hospital for end of life care at his care home.  He was sent home with morphine.  The hospital did not think that they could do anything for him.  I can hope, as father has fooled us before, but it doesn't look good.  So I am fairly certain that I'll want to be doing something and it may as well be constructive.  I will update.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Want Will Be My Master

I want a new dishwasher.  I want a new cooker.  I want a new fridge.  I want a new freezer.  Want will be my master.

To be fair, of the above, the dishwasher has given up and needs to be taken to the tip.  I am finding it embarrassing just how much better the dishwasher was than my 'by hand' efforts.  The new cooker is desired because the one I have was one we got second hand in 2007.  It had been my Mother in Law's and it came to us when she passed.  It has never worked well.  This is less to do with a dying curse and more to do with appalling gas supplies and pipes that are the wrong dimensions.  The oven is notoriously ineffective and I would love to have an electric oven that actually worked.  This is especially true now that the mini oven is gone.  The fridge is looking battered, the door is missing its shelves and it is getting long past the estimated lifespan of a modern fridge.  The freezer, well, it is far too creaky.  Also I wistfully crave 'frost free' and never, ever having to defrost ever again.

Regardless we have just replaced our halogen oven after it stopped getting hot.  It is relatively inexpensive to run, relatively easy to use and not expensive to buy.  The rest will have to wait.

In theory, we can wait until the Black Friday sale at AO at the end of November and sweep in with a mass order.   Whether I'll be able to get the money together for it is another matter.  I haven't been too random so far with eBay and while the Approved Food order does contain some spray on food colour, it could be worse.  I will prioritise the dishwasher (which will need a new sink unit to accomodate it, so extra expense) and work from there.  When it all comes down to it, I can work around all of the 'wants' especially as I have a halogen oven and a microwave.  None of them are necessities, they really aren't.  The fridge and freezer are useful, but we could still work around it.  We could just pick up stuff as we needed it, just like my parents and grandparents had to do.  We can wait until November 2016 for all of the 'wants' if we didn't have the money, and we may have to.

Father is still described as very poorly.  He is still on oxygen.  He is still on a drip.  He is still not getting much food in him.  DH is in bits, bear tells us he is sad, and to be honest I am not coping as well as I thought I would.

Friday 24 July 2015

Keeping On

I have nine and one half keys on my key ring(s).  I use three of them.  Several are for doors that no longer exist.  It takes me so long to get a key onto a dratted key ring that I cannot face trying to get the wretched thing off.  I have even got an extra key ring because one of the keys is impossible to get on a normal ring and I have had to get one of the type that you can open and close and add it on.

At some point I am going to have to sit down with a table knife and prise open the rings and sort it all out.  My friend told me to use a table knife and it really does work, but I need to be a bit more focused.  Father is settled and spending a lot of time sleeping.

I've been browsing my friend eBay.  I'll let you know if anything more random than normal happens.  At this moment, all bets are off.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Red Sky at Night

I know that not everyone who reads this is from the UK (and I am incredibly flattered), so you may not have heard of the saying, 'Red sky at night, shepherd's delight.  Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning.'

Normally the weather systems cross the UK from west to east, from the Atlantic to the North Sea.  This means that rain sweeps in from the west.  According to the Met Office, western England can get up to 3000mm annual rainfall, while Norfolk on the east can get as little as 700mm.  When the sun rose in the east the light from the horizon would shine across and if it hit clouds massing in the west and turned them red then there was a good chance that it was weather from the Atlantic bringing rain.  When the sun was setting in the west and light was shining across to the east, if it lit up cloud it was likely to be clouds that had already passed.

This morning there was a red sky, and the weather forecast is hit and miss.  I know this because father was taken into hospital last night, moved to another hospital and I finally got home about 5.30am.  The doctors describe him as 'very poorly'.  I had two lots of 'Should we have a 'Do Not Resuscitate Notice'.  I have had lots of worries running around my head, so I am just thinking about rubbish.

Worried about father, worried about bear, worried about DH who is incredibly close to father.  The summer holidays have truly arrived.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

It Isn't Even Lunchtime

The first full day of the holidays.

Bear insisted that he bought himself one of those beeping things where you have to tap colours in sequence.  It is incredibly annoying.  However listening to the beep, beep, beep is better than the meltdown we had when the chalks that came with the delivery broke, or the emotional collapse when he epically failed to learn how to do expert calligraphy after watching a YouTube channel for ten minutes.

We forgot to put the bins out.

I've left another voice mail with the council.  I'll post a letter tomorrow.

Bear's Doctor Who clock finally came.  It is inadequate, self assembly and unimpressive but will be an excellent introduction to bear making his own clock.  It was also extremely inexpensive.

I can't find my keys.  This is less important than it sounds as bear is refusing to be left while I nip to the shop that is less than 100 yards away to get sandwich filling and is too busy being a drama llama to come with me, and while I would tell him to get over it if it was urgent, it isn't.  To be honest, I think this holiday has come in the nick of time for bear.  He is shattered.

I will need to find the keys for tomorrow, though, as I have a meeting with the GP at father's care home.  I think she wants to talk about end of life care.  I've checked with the home and they can keep an eye on bear while I talk.  I have no-one to leave him with, the staff are lovely, bear is usually very well behaved in public and he will be in a safe, open area.  I am still not comfortable about it.  

So today I am focusing on the small triumphs.  Seabrook crisps are gluten free and are currently on offer at Tesco.  I have really, really, really missed crisps at times, and a shedload came with the order this morning.  I have just eaten so many I feel sick.  Tesco have also delivered undercoat and gloss.  I am looking forward to getting to grips with them.

Bluehousedebs - lovely to 'meet' you.  I hope you can continue to drop in.

Morgan - I think a lot of very, very little things are catching up with the big things.  I am well aware that many people are worse off.  Things could be a lot worse, and I now have crisps.  Hugs - you have more on your plate, I think, and you are an inspiration.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

The Holidays Have Landed

Can I just have a moment?  I feel like a dozen things have landed on my head.  I still haven't heard from the Council, so I will be chasing again tomorrow.  The food bank was busy and there seemed to be a lot going on.  I got the presents for the teachers in on time and took bear to his maths tutor.

Bear was awesome at the maths tutor, who I think is having a ball.  We all agree that bear shouldn't get ahead of his year so he does all sorts of maths problems and number games that involve things like cards and stuff.  He had a brief attempt at calligraphy today.

We are also getting a piano.  This was unexpected.  We have to pay for a man with a van and someone to tune it, otherwise it is ours.  The piano teacher suggested that as someone was getting rid of a piano, we would be good recipients.  I am grateful, but slightly stunned.

I had a call from the care home.  Father has had Do Not Resuscitate put on his notes.  He is refusing medicine and not eating enough and his weight is falling.  I have seen the attempts the staff have made to coax him.  Father is being charming, cheerful, alert and utterly non-co-operative.

While bear will be doing nothing tomorrow I can do some chasing and fingers crossed work out what is happening with the piano.

Monday 20 July 2015

Money v Convenience

It's the lavender flowers.  On Saturday they looked like this

I have twenty two metres of accidentally purchased voile that is perfect for lavender bags.  Father planted some small lavender sprigs which are now huge swathes that are now blocking the path and they are probably ready for picking.  I have been watching the weather and this morning there are lots of puddles still in the street.  It isn't ideal, but I thought it worth a risk.  I started picking some stalks when I got back from dropping bear at school.  Not only did I oversleep, but I was concerned about picking them damp so it was after 9am when I got out.

It was a fail.  First, and significantly, I didn't know where to start.  There are masses of stalks, all fragrant and elegant.  I could have just got stuck in, but the other problem made me think twice.  The lavender is full of bees.  In fact the lavender is really heavily full of bees.  Not all of them are from the chimney either.  Some of them are bumble bees and they look like they could punch harder than me.  I picked a few sprigs and then retreated.

I could wait until evening, but the forecast is looking damp for this week.  This was my best window of opportunity.  Then when they come in I do have a space to dry them - but it is going to be decorated.  The only really suitable space at the moment will be painted.  There are very limited places elsewhere to hang them, the house is being turned upside down (not before time) and I think they would be a fragrant nuisance.  Next year there is a good chance I will be able to organise things better.  This year I am planning to keep going with my sudden clearing.

If I don't harvest and dry the lavender then the bees will thank me, there will be significantly less trouble and clutter and I can just hack it back with shears when I really need to walk past the plants.  However I won't have lavender flowers to make lavender bags.

Did you know you can buy dried lavender flowers on my friend eBay?  I don't suppose I would get more than 100g of dried flowers no matter how carefully I harvested, but I can buy 1kg of dried Yorkshire lavender for £6.99 including postage.  I suspect this good price is for the end of last year's harvest, but around October when I start thinking of the church fair I am confident I would still be able to get a decent price.

So, if I am going to make lavender bags and not do other stuff with the voile, is it worth me leaving the lavender where it is and not cluttering up space and then buying what I need later on?  We have just had to shell out for a much needed laptop for DH, and I can see a lot of expenses coming up.  Do I abandon the idea of lavender bags for this year or do I still go ahead, make the lavender bags but use money instead of time and effort to get the flowers for them?  Or do I take on the bees and just get on with it?  After all, I could have probably picked quite a handful of stalks while I was typing this.

I think I will abandon the lavender harvest this year, especially as it has just started raining.  I may or may not purchase the flowers later, I will see how things are in October.  I may be being profligate, I am determined to be realistic.

I still haven't had a call back from the Council.  I don't remember being given any paperwork when father moved to the home, but I remember how clear they were that it had to be a nursing home, with the ability to provide medical care and not just residential, and that he couldn't come home as he needed too much medical care.  There was certainly no attempt to set up any payment.

Sunday 19 July 2015


I just found this

It's a curtain made out of handkerchiefs and it looks amazing.  It is really, really amazing, with lots of different patterned handkerchiefs all translucent and it looks perfect for the country window it hangs at.  Someone used amazing skill to match different sizes and thicknesses to a truly amazing design.  Some of the handkerchiefs are truly beautiful with lovely patterns and printed designs.

The handkerchiefs I've got are plain and extremely well used.  I'm not trying it.  At least, I'm not trying it at the moment.  Of course, if I came across a stash of patterned handkerchiefs all bets are off.

Fried Egg and Phone Fail

Bear decided that for lunch he would like fish fingers, baked beans and fried egg, if it isn't too much trouble.  I was willing, but not optimistic.  Even on the griddle I have an epic fail.  While I didn't set the smoke alarm off for once, the white was crispy, the yolk was all over the place and it was generally uninspiring.  At least the beans and the fish fingers were okay.   Bear didn't mind.

One reason bear didn't mind is that he is currently devastated because his phone had given up and stopped working.  He was trying to make a video of him doing the electronic experiments on his electronic experiment kit and was devastated when his phone wouldn't work.  This phone used to be mine, and before that was DH's and it was second hand then.  It was about seven hundred and thirty in phone years and bear used to make notes on it and take pictures and videos.  We had removed the sim card and disabled the wifi as I didn't really agree with him having a phone, and bear had a marvellous time with it.  That phone has kept him quiet at the dentist, at the doctor, waiting for father to be seen, visiting father in hospital, and has generally distracted him at some really crucial times.  I'd used it for years before that, and I'm quite sad as well.

Bear is angling for a new phone.  This is not very likely to happen at all.  I'm not very keen on him owning a phone anyway, and we just don't have the money.  I mean, there are ways and means, but as bear will not be allowed to use it as a phone and when it comes down to it is just eight, I can't see how we can justify spending.  DH was muttering about a cheap second hand iPod touch, however his laptop has today gone the same way as bear's phone - not entirely unexpectedly as the laptop and the phone are similar ages - extremely time enriched.  Also so old that in phone years they are probably older than the pyramids.  A laptop is a necessity for DH, so if money is being spent, that is definitely a priority.

I've shelved browsing for fabric for raggy place mats for now.

Saturday 18 July 2015

A Use for Handkerchiefs

I read someone put a few drops of essential oils inside the cardboard inner of a toilet roll to scent the bathroom.  I considered the small boys trekking in and out of our bathroom and put some rosemary oil on a small piece of cotton wool and put it out of the way.  It smelled lovely.  It seemed a shame to keep using bits of cotton wool, though, when I could use something that could be bunged in the washing machine and reused.  An old handkerchief would be ideal.  I have a stash of old handkerchiefs.  Then I remembered the YouTube video of a raggy quilt I had seen, and one thing led to another...

First I took two large gents handkerchiefs and cut them into quarters.

I pinned them together and drew some lines in quilter's marker to use as a guide.  I didn't want to trust my eye to keep a good line.  The handkerchiefs weren't that brilliant to start with and they weren't square.  I trimmed quite a bit off, including all the seams.  I hand stitched them together (bear loathes my sewing machine) and then snipped into the very wide allowance outside the stitching.  I did lots of cuts and I cut the corners out completely.

I washed and dried the project and then sewed a button in the centre to keep it stable.  I used a button that came free on a magazine ages ago.  I used some ribbon from an inexpensive bundle to make a loop at the corner, adding a little button there as well.

It is lovely, soft, absorbent, fluffy and ideal for putting drops of rosemary oil onto the back and hanging it up so it can scent the air.  I wasn't sure about the hand stitching, even though I used small stitches, but it held up.  If it fails it would be easy to mend - or just replace the whole thing!  I can't believe I did this in and around doing other stuff this afternoon.

The only thing now is that I have to find a way of sorting the inexpensive bundle of ribbon that the three inches I snipped off to use for the loop came from.  At the moment it looks like this.

I think I read somewhere a hack that used the inner of kitchen roll.  If I work it out, I'll share.

Friday 17 July 2015

No call back

I didn't visit father today because I was waiting in for a call from the council.  They didn't call.  The phone extension of the lady I need to speak to will not accept calls, just messages.  I feel a little stressed.

Jackie - I'm happy to pay if we have to pay, but it's all odd.  We were told that father should be having all his care paid for as a medical necessity.  I am not sure of the right words, but I understood that if father has ongoing medical issues severe enough, his pension is not used as it is covered by the NHS.  Father is genuinely that ill.  However we are suddenly looking at 45 weeks at over £200 per week to pay, without any warning.  It's hard for me to know the right questions to ask, or the right words to use.  Bear breaks up for the holidays on Tuesday.  I am looking at the third summer in a row where bear is sat listening to me make difficult phone calls.

However when I saw the picture in your link I just laughed and laughed.  The handkerchiefs that are currently stacked on the table were extremely inexpensive to start with, have been well used and well washed, they are not really...  Actually, as I typed, I could do dye experiments to see if they would looked pretty or I could, well, I am sure I could think of something.  Thank you.

Today has been a bit limp.  There are three more bin bags to go to the tip, and I've generated more ironing by catching up with some washing, so it could be worse.  Next week I'll be able to cut the lavender to dry because after poor DH has done the multiple tip runs I'll have the room to hang it.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Twenty Three Handkerchiefs

I've been clearing out the dining room.  I have filled four bin bags with rubbish, I have stacked hours and hours worth of ironing, I have moved furniture and it is now looking like a reasonable room.  There is a long way to go before it looks like a tidy room and then I want to redecorate.  I have taken some 'before' pictures, but I am not putting those up until I have got some decent 'after' pictures as well.

I did my first hour long ironing session.  I ironed twenty three handkerchiefs.  There was around another half dozen that were only fit for rags, and I suspect there are a few more in one of the baskets.  I've ironed them, folded them and stacked them on the newly cleared table.  I have no idea what do do with them.  Most are in a 'well used' condition.

I don't use handkerchiefs usually, I use tissues.  DH doesn't use handkerchiefs either.  Bear has to be persuaded not to use a sleeve.  I cannot donate used handkerchiefs.  They will probably go for polishing cloths.

Father used handkerchiefs, but can't really anymore.  They use tissues in the care home, for obvious hygiene reasons.  I got an extra stack when he came here to live because his were so thin.  I am sure if I clear his drawers I will find dozens of them, many not fit for rags.  Father is getting frailer.  I am not coping well with it.

Today I got a letter asking for father's contribution to the care home.  I was told when he went in that he was fully funded.  We have assumed that he will be fully funded.  Of course if he has to pay, he has to pay but he is extremely weak and when he wanted to come home we were advised against it as he needed 24 hour medical care.  I'm not going to try and cheat the system, and if it is right that he pays then he pays, but apart from anything else, if it leaves father feeling he is unable to 'treat' bear, or the carers or the church then I think it will finish him.  I think it will strip the last bit of value he can find in himself.

I'm looking for a bright side at the moment.  The bright side is that I get to do shopping at IKEA for dining room chairs.  And shopping at IKEA is always a good trip out and we come back with all sorts.  I can take bear on the bus and buy the chairs one at a time - an ideal diversion during the summer holiday.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Light and Shade Challenge

I've been listening to Tavener's 'Song for Athene' as I wrote this, which helped my atmosphere.  If you are interested, there is a YouTube version here.

The Light and Shade Challenge for this week had this as a picture prompt.

And so I had to have a knock at the door.  If you are interested, the link is here

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Time of Year

I've just realised...

Over the last few decades there has been a documented change in wildlife as growing seasons, flowering seasons and fruiting seasons are getting earlier.  I found this on the BBC website from a few years ago, which is as good a source as any in a very controversial field, but I've noticed it myself.  I have two clear markers.  The first I notice is the orange blossom trees that are planted along the ring road next to the school and smell amazing.  I've always been frustrated that they usually hit their peak during Whit half term, so I don't go past as much.  They have been creeping into bloom earlier and earlier and last year they were starting to open and spread their scent the week before Whit week.  This year they are still in flower, six weeks later than last year.

The other marker which I have just walked past is the privet blossom.  Over the last twenty years a neglected privet bush has turned into a tree and blossoms usually just before Wimbledon or in the first week.  Again it has been creeping into blossom earlier and earlier and I've noticed because I love the smell, which may be pungent but to me tells me that summer is here.  It has just started blossoming now, though Wimbledon has finished.  This year the flowers are late.

I know the tomatoes were delivered later than they were supposed to arrive, and I wonder if there has been a late start to things after what feels like has been a cold, dry spring.

The bees are also looking very busy and stressed around the chimney.  I wonder if we are going to get a swarm.  We've had swarms before without any incident so I am not stressed.

Image from WikiCommons, taken by Lazaregagnidze and used under the Creative Commons Agreement and it looks just like a close up of the privet tree at the end of the road

Monday 13 July 2015

Bear is Happy

Actually, bear is utterly exhausted and the sooner the holiday comes the better.

Today I decided to pull the carrots I planted a few months ago.  They were sold as purple carrots and I was wondering if they were ready.  I had no idea.  Bear was very encouraging.  Amongst the purple carrots were some purple spring onions to discourage carrot fly.  They were looking a bit thin, but again, I wasn't sure what I should have been looking for.

What we got was this.

The carrots weren't desperately purple.  The spring onions were quite purple but were not very big.

I had been thinking on the bus today, and decided it wasn't really worth us growing any veggies.  By the time we had sorted out plants/seeds/compost etc and I had slogged around with all the watering I might as well buy the veggies from the shop.  Bear has decided, after pulling the carrots, that we really, really need to be growing more veggies.

I'll wait and see.

Saturday 11 July 2015

An Epic Okay

I never thought I would have the nerve to do this.  I never thought I would have the energy.  I have never painted anything.  I have never decorated.  So why I thought it a good idea to use some of the dumped tyres as planters after painting them I have no idea.  However I bought some basic emulsion (after all, what sort of paint works on rubber?), ordered some plants and decided to see what happened.

What happened was that the plants arrived today.  I wasn't expecting them until Thursday.  I had an epic panic.  I had some tyres.

I suddenly had some plants

And I had a sense of urgency.  First of all I washed the tyres.  I didn't do a good job but I got the worst of the dust and dirt off them and while they were drying I planted the catnip and the honeysuckle.

Then I sat down and painted.  Bear helped, and we need to work on clear communication - I need to say 'stop' in time and needs to actually stop.  As it is we have paint in bear's hair and compost in the paint, but paint, compost and hair are all brown and it is fairly dull emulsion, so bear will be fine.

I was aware of the way the weather could change and the need to get the plants in as soon as possible, so I sort of slapped away with the paint brush.  I had a wonderful time.  It was quite fiddly getting into the grooves in the tyres, there is paint on my new slippers, there is paint on the dust sheet, but most importantly there is paint on the tyres.

I also was soaking coir bricks to put at the base, shoveling soil from place to place and generally juggling different stages.  However DH (who is lovely!) is making dinner and I can leave the last coat of paint to more or less dry but I have already planted up two lots and only one left.  I'll be able to do that after dinner, and pick up some small trellis for the sweet peas, jasmine and honeysuckle that should cover my painting mistakes.  I'm not trying to grow things up the fence behind them.  The Landlord says he is going to put a fence in.  I will believe that when I see it.  However I have to wait to see what he does and while he works it out the fence is collapsing.

I'm quite pleased with it.

I didn't think I had the skill, the energy or the courage to have a go.  I am not kidding myself they are perfect either, but they are okay.  I'm waiting to see how they do with rain.  However now that I have proved that to myself, I have a backlog of things to attempt.  Watch this space!

Friday 10 July 2015

Steve Adderson

I've written another installment of the Steve Adderson story, for anyone interested.  The link is here.

If anyone ever feels like getting some practice in creative writing, Tom and I put up a prompt most Wednesdays, and you can find the rules and the prompt here.  The only absolutely fixed in stone rules are that you must be nice to everyone else that posts, that you must avoid anything that promotes hate, like racism, sexism, the stuff that most sensible people won't touch with a barge pole, and, really importantly, you have fun.

Continuing On

The plants are still alive (which is more than I can say about the courgettes).  I moved the grit bin.  I think I've done something interesting to the back of my neck, but I moved the grit bin.  I had to move some edging stones and shovel some soil before I started.  The grit bin is three quarters full so there was a certain amount of shovelling things into bags, trying not to spill salt near plants, trying to shift the humungous box, shovelling some more, trying again, shovelling even more then heaving and pushing and then putting the bags back in trying not to spill the dratted rock salt, then sighing with relief.  I know I will be grateful for it when the icy weather comes.  I then shifted a few more bricks and put the wheelie bins where father wanted them.  I honestly didn't think I would be able to do that.

I have also made a start sorting out the huge pile of miscellaneous clothes that has somehow crept up over the last few months.  I have a substantial pile already to take to the clothes bank.  It is really necessary, and of course there is a story.

Back in March Nice Mr Next Door promised he was getting a skip the very next day and I could put a book case that I didn't want in it.  I really wanted to get rid of the book case so hoicked all the books off it, dragged it outside and left it.  And left it.  And left it.  Nice Mr Next Door is a bit too nice and was let down by someone so the skip didn't turn up.  The skip only arrived a few weeks ago - but to be fair the bookcase went into it.  Actually the bookcase went into it in pieces and raised the level of the skip sides by about eighteen inches.

This left a bookcase shaped hole in the dining room with a pile of books and miscellaneous stuff all over the space where it had been.  That is the stuff that I have been sorting.  Then another bookcase will be moved into that space, then the dining table can go into that space and I'll have enough space to use the sewing machine for making curtains.  And, co-incidentally there is a hanger on the door into the dining room which will be easily accessible if I clear the rubbish and will be ideal for drying the great swathes of lavender that are blocking the light into the dining room.  I haven't got much time to get those sorted either.  The lavender is flowering and I need to get a wiggle on.  You can't wait for plants or weather.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Garden continues

Witch Hazel and Wean - you are absolutely right.  I should have watered them.  Having said that, the rain was heavy and I haven't like to water them yet this morning as the soil is soaked.  I'll give it a few hours then get out with the watering can.  The peppers all seem to have recovered but some of the tomatoes are still looking a bit limp.

To be fair to myself, two hours after planting, the plant pot looked like this - not watered, just rained.

Now I am trying to work out if I can manage something.  Father wanted to get new barriers on the small border near the wall.  They look like this - he bought them and a few flags from a garden centre just before he was taken ill.

I thought I would try and get them in.  The trouble is, I am not sure I am able to.  The first snag is easily dealt with.  The current bits of stone that hold in the soil are a lot deeper than I thought they would be.  I have dug and dug but they are going further and further down.  It is a bit dispiriting as I am not sure how easy it will be to get out.  Not as easy as I hoped.

Then I need to move the municipal grit bin that I found left for me when I came home one day from visiting father.  I didn't ask for it.  Nice Mr Next Door installed it for me.  I don't feel able to get rid of it.  It is completely in the wrong place if I want to put those stone edges in.

I think I will have to reconsider father's plans.  I think that father would have had to reconsider his plans.

It just means I will feel very pleased with myself when I manage it.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

My Past Has Caught Up With Me

The plants I happily ordered months and months ago have arrived.  Five sweet pepper plants and half a dozen tomato plants.  As the garden looks like it has been repeatedly hit with the messy stick and I have no idea at all what I am doing, I wasn't as enthusiastic as I should have been.

The delivery was due between 10 and 11am, so after I dropped bear off at school I started doing some clearance.  I have no idea what I am doing.  However I have filled a few bin bags and shoved the plants into pots.  I didn't bother watering them.  The weather forecast says it is going to rain and it feels like it is going to be heavy.

This is what they currently look like.

The garden is a work in progress.  The other side of the garden is just as bad

Though you can't see the giant fuschia and the massive roses.  I need to move heavy things and dig holes for stuff that father planned.  My lovely ex Nice Next Door Neighbour left a yellow grit bin full of rock salt in one corner.  I don't appreciate it as much as I should, and I need to move it somehow - but it's heavy!  I need to move beds and sort bits and fill bits in and dig bits up.  I'm not doing that today.

The whole business with plants is a perfect example of me making vague plans, having grand ideas and then failing on an epic scale.  Still, at least the plants are in.

Morgan - I agree.  All the best recipes I have had have come from blogs or old cook books.  The only exception is the all recipes site, which has recipes submitted by real people.  Even that has been hit and miss.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Feeling the Fail

I was feeling a bit inadequate, as we are not eating as healthily as we could and I am sure bear would prefer healthier meals.  He prefers jacket spuds to chips and loves broccoli and celery sticks and I just feel that I need to raise my game.  I clicked randomly on a Sainsbury link that I hoped would give me some ideas for inexpensive and easy meals as I am not as with it as I should and I am fretting about father and to be honest I have no idea how to shake up my cooking.

The link took me to a recipe for sumac sardines with smashed chickpea salsa.  It needed a YouTube video to work it and used 10 fresh sardines - where the jeff am I going to get fresh sardines?  More importantly, there is no way on this planet that I am trusting myself with a sharp knife and a slippery fish.  If they need gutting and boning I am stuffed.  It was also not as inexpensive as I had hoped.

I now feel the complete fail.

There is always a bright side. After this I thought it would be worth having a look at Tesco's website and they have recipes as well.  I probably won't serve the beef salad recipe in jars, as suggested, but I may well serve it up on a plate - it looks very possible, may be reasonably healthy and not as outrageously expensive as I feared.  Obviously there would be some tweaks and substitutions, but it's definitely doable.


Today I wore jeans for the first time in over a year.

When all the problems I had last year started, my jeans stuck to my skin and ripped parts of it off.  Now it is a lot better and I no longer have to wear the baggy and extremely inexpensive trousers that I have been living in.  It's quite odd.  The jeans were tumbled dried and yet are looser around the waist, though the legs are tighter.  I need to be walking more.

I am currently having a sit.  I have helped at the food bank this morning, now I am waiting for Tesco then it will be time to get bear out, about and back before feeding everyone.

Then there is the issue of bear's homework.  I privately may think that the teachers would be glad of one less book to mark but bear won't hear of less than perfection.  He was too hot on Friday, then didn't sleep much at all Friday night, then wasn't fit for rags on Saturday or Sunday, so yesterday was saved for the full on panicking meltdown because he had to write a story about a Tudor kitchen.  It has to be handed in tomorrow morning.  Bear has done several, action-packed, carefully spelled sentences already but he feels it lacks the blockbuster element.  It's going to be a long evening.  

Saturday 4 July 2015

Kathleen in haste, firstly envious that  you live in Scotland which is a wonderful place.  Filey is awesome, but if you have a rainy day do try Whitby Museum.  It has a very reasonable entrance fee, a skeleton of a Jurassic sea serpent on the wall (genuine, fossil, marine reptile, also Jurassic crocodile)  and there is a genuine Hand of Glory - a real genuine person's hand that has been cut off and preserved to use to to burgle houses.

The Chocolate Museum and Mother Shipton's Caves are also really great.

Hope you have a marvellous time.  Thank you for commenting

Friday 3 July 2015

Bear Has a Report

It is awesome.  It is an epic win.  I am incredibly proud.

Bear has requested BeastQuest books for a reward.  As they are considerably less expensive than the trip to York Chocolate Museum he got last year, even in large quantity, I'm happy to oblige.

A Time for Everything Under the Sun

I love the rhythm in the first eight verses of Chapter Three of Ecclesiastes.  The link to the old King James version is here.  I love the old language.  Whether you are Christian or not, it has a lot of sense.
This is why I am looking at winter coats on my friend eBay now.  If we weren't nicely set up for rock salt, I'd get some now as well, as the price is lower at this time of year.

The summer sales is a good time to stock up on presents for Christmas if you didn't in the January sales.  It is a good time to plan for the whole 'C' word.  Ecclesiastes talks about 'a time to plant and a time to pluck up'.  Those who grow their own veg can now enjoy it and perhaps some can be put aside.

Father planted a couple of very small lavender plants in 2013.

Now is a good time to plan all the lavender bags I will be donating to the Church Christmas Fair.  I know the theory - I should pick the lavender on a dry morning and dry the stalks hanging upside down with a paper bag around them.  I am going to start saving paper bags and work out where they are going to hang.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Self Indulgent

Some very nice people have written some very nice things about my writing.  I went back to have a look at some old stuff and was inspired with another spark for the Steve Adderson story.  If you are interested the link is here.

Otherwise, today has been a bit of a fail.  I'm headachey and my stomach is very, very bad indeed.  I'm blaming the heat, taking it easy, being self indulgent and leaving the rest until tomorrow.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Not Mentioning the Weather

I'm not mentioning the weather.

I haven't been very productive today.  For some reason I managed to come home with three carrier bags from Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op.  I got some reduced veg for dinner tonight from the Co-op when I picked up father's paper.  It is the local shop so I pop in there regularly.  Usually just for a paper, but I keep an eye out.  I picked up some fruit for bear for after school (very gratefully received) from Tesco.  I sort of accidentally called in to Morrisons as it was a cool place to wait for the bus between the opticians and father and fortunately only bought a salad and a fridge jug.

I have new glasses.  They are quite a bit stronger and when I walk in them the floor near me seems to come rushing up at me.  I feel seasick.

I am still trying to work out the 'Match and More' card from Morrisons.  I picked up a leaflet today and it seems that if I buy something at Morrisons that would be cheaper elsewhere then I can get points.  If I get enough points then I would get a £5 voucher.  However as I am always shaving the pennies I can't see I would make on this.  I may get one for the few times I may pass by, because it all helps, but I don't think I'll stress too much about it.

Normal for Me

I swear there is something wrong with me.  I've more or less given up attempting writing and thought I would give up entirely for a while due to really having to fight against the tide to get a few sentences down.  Last night was the hottest night of the year so far, with night time temperatures high enough for comfortable day temperatures.

So that explains why last night I found myself mentally writing a poem about frost as I drifted off to sleep.  I have no idea why the images came to me, or why I should write what I did, but it felt like I was ambushed.  The link is here if you are interested.

By the way, the picture I used from Wiki Commons, which is all about frost, was taken in a hot desert.  It doesn't look it.