Saturday 29 April 2023

Worried about the Fuchsia

Thank you for all the lovely comments. After today I'm going to try and reply in the comments to make sure that I'm properly appreciating things.

Signs of rats have disappeared since I moved a few pots. I think I'll just have to keep moving stuff around in that area. There's only really one way that they're coming in. If I keep it looking exposed then they're less likely to come over. We're being careful with deterrents because we want to keep the birds and even the squirrel, though they can be pests. 

Bear is currently playing a computer game, and I'm leaving him to it. He's got so much homework to do over the next few days on top of revision, so I'm not pushing him. I've told him that it's up to him to work, but I catch him doing quite a bit of work and I've listened and nodded when he's explaining things to me. He's currently all about the exams, poor kid, and full of cold.

I'm still feeling a little poorly. I'm feeling very shivery and queasy. I think I'll take it easy until after the Bank Holiday, then I'll have to get on with things.

As for the fuchsia, it looks like this

But on 1st May last year, it looked like this.

That's the useful thing about a blog that's been going on so long. I have frames of reference. There was a warm spell earlier in the year followed by a nasty cold snap, and that may have finished it off. The rose is not as far forward. It's currently in bud, but last year it looked more like this. 

So I'll give it another week. I don't know what the sparrows will do if it really has died. It's one of their favourite perches. I suppose I could just trim it back and then grow a climber up it. That would save having to dig the thing out. It was planted by father over ten years ago and the root system is probably epic. And apart from anything else, it's been so much part of the garden and everything that there will be an emotional gap. I'm so used to being able to grumble about it and then enjoy the flowers and the birds arguing in the branches, that I don't know what I'll do if it goes. Suggestions for suitable creepers or replacements welcome.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 25 April 2023

I Hope That This Makes Sense

I'll do a proper post tomorrow, but I thought I would catch up a few things.

I was back at the doctor today and have more antibiotics. There is also a steroid cream, but there's some confusion about whether the pharmacy has it, whether they can get it and generally what is to be done.

Bear is snowed under with homework and it's only a couple of weeks until exams. 

I've managed a walk or two, and I loved this contrast of the old and new ivy leaves.

The fuchsia in the garden isn't showing signs of life yet. I'm a little worried, not least because if it's dead then we'll need heavy plant machinery to get the dratted thing out unless I want to pretend that it's some sort of free form trellis.

The rats are back and stealing from the bird feeder. They are huge, and may have been disturbed by the men doing something to the sewer in the street. 

Writing stuff - Invitation Accepted Chapter Eleven is here and Whisper in the Shadows is free to buy until 29th April. NB Dark Picture, Under Dark Hills and the stories that are in the category of At the Fireside will be coming down on 30th April. 

Hugs and good vibes to all. 

Thursday 20 April 2023

I Need to Work in the Garden

Bless - thank you! I think with bear, he's pretty awesome and is such a good lad, but I don't want to be unrealistic. I've read blogs where everything is just so wonderful and fantastic and perfect that it's discouraging. Bear is amazing, and I'm still not sure where we went right, but it's a pretty normal household here. Bear has yet again failed to take his plate to the kitchen. 

And speaking of normal, we have rats in the garden again. They are raiding the seeds dropped by the birds and the squirrel. I don't approve of rats in the garden. In addition, I'm a little worried because there are so many rats around that poison might be put down, then the dogs next door but one might be vulnerable if they catch and eat a poisoned rat. 

Last time we got rid of them (mostly) by clearing away a load of vegetation, moving stuff around and generally tidying up. Apparently rats hate change. They also apparently hate peppermint. I was wondering about dousing the bird feeder with peppermint oil, then I worried whether it would deter the birds. Do birds like peppermint oil? Can birds smell peppermint oil? I realised that I never thought of birds having a sense of smell, but I knew that Tyrannosaurus Rex had (apparently) a great sense of smell and that birds are descended from T. Rex's cousins. Then I was a little worried that I knew more about a dinosaur's sense of smell than I did about a sparrow, but I guess my knowledge has blank spots. I googled and apparently birds do not like peppermint oil, and I think squirrels aren't keen either. So we won't be using much peppermint oil. We've had a few goldfinches around as well as the usual crowd of sparrows, blue tits, assertive robins, thrushes, blackbirds and I think a wren. 

The yellow rose is looking better than it has done for years and I suspect that it's in part because the sparrows have been keeping the aphids down. 

And there are some bluebells on the way.

I'm feeling a lot better (apart from a seriously iffy tummy) and the antibiotics continue, so I'll have intermittent goes at the garden over the next few days, weather permitting.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Pity Party Continues

Bless - thank you! I hope the rosemary will survive. As rats have been sighted, I'm going to have to start moving things around again and spraying peppermint tea.

Sharon - thank you for the hugs.  They are incredibly gratefully received.

My last post was number 3000 and instead of marking the occasion, I was whining. I really need to work on my resilience. I'm having a think about that. So on post 3001, I would like to say a very real thank you to all the wonderful people who come here and who have been encouraging, kind and inspirational. This is my support network, and I am grateful for it.

Although I will grumble a little as I can't get warm. I'm wearing a top, a sweater, a blanket with ears around my shoulders and head and another one on my lap. The room is pleasantly warm, but I'm frozen. I think it's just psychosomatic, and I don't approve. I'm about to start week two of the antibiotics and I'll be glad when it's over. 

Bear has got a negative mark. I feel that if I come on here and talk about his amazing achievements then I should record some of his fails. Not too many, as I don't want my words haunting him when he's fifty and someone finds this blog, but I should try and give a fair picture. This was for forgetting his homework. He got away with some of it, as he did the online stuff, but he forgot his book. He's not taking it to heart as we have the whole revision/exams stuff going on and he has tons of other homework. I should also mention that he got 100% in some different homework that he dashed off at the last minute at break. 

I also paid for his prom ticket today. It's not too expensive, but I'm talking about possibly hiring a suit. Bear has grown so much since we got the jacket for his interview in February that I'm not sure that the amazing jacket (that he didn't want to wear and then was very keen on) still fits him. Most of his school shirts don't fit any more and I can't bring myself to buy more for the few weeks he has left. They didn't have school proms when I was at school, so I'm not exactly sure what will be going on with a load of excited sixteen year olds in a posh reception and no consequences as they've already left school. Bear has utterly, totally and completely rejected any sliver of possibility that he will be involved with either dancing or a date. I'm saying nothing. 

Writing stuff - I've put a post on my writing blog here which is sort of chatty stuff. I'm using as a way of creating a writing newsletter, so I'm less likely to post news on here. Hopefully that makes more space for real life.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 17 April 2023

Self Pity Party Again

Thank you for all the amazing good wishes. I feel hugged, and I need it. I have been wearing the blanket with ears that bear said he wanted then utterly rejected. I look like Chewbacca, but it's so comforting.

I am not feeling very well. It's next to my ankle on my shin so the 4k steps I've done today plus the driving have probably not been ideal. I picked up some plants although I am feeling unenthusiastic - it was three sweet pea plants from Tesco as the last lot are still fine. Mind you, something has dug in the flower bed. Current main suspects are rats, cats or Cedric the Squirrel. There are some flowers on the established rosemary.

You can see the splendid display of dandelions I have in the background. It's in a pot and I plan to move it to somewhere with a little more sun and less water. It's not really done much for the last few years so I'm hoping that if I remember to water it, feed it and cossett it, then it will flourish a little better. 

Bear asked for his blazer and tie to be drycleaned, which seemed something of a waste to me as we have around five weeks normal school times, then he just goes in (in uniform) for exams until I think 21st June. Still, it's him that's wearing it and I'm sure that there will be plenty of pics. The blazer looks fine and fortunately will hide the stain that the dry cleaners couldn't get out of the tie once it's buttoned up.

I have no idea what it is. And after the 21st of June it won't be a problem. I had planned to gather together ties over the school years and perhaps make a patchwork of some sort, but I cannot face the thought.

I also forgot cheese. DH loves his pasta bake with plenty of cheese and I make it every week. Unfortunately I forgot the cheese today so he had a rather insipid version. I feel so guilty, even though he was fine. 

Writing stuff - I'm somewhat concerned about how many of the illustrations for the Invitation Accepted series are for food. The latest chapter is here. Fortunately it was mostly loaded before I felt really poorly. I'm getting my head down and working on the next instalment as something tells me that it would be best to get ahead.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Slightly More Interesting

Sharon - thank you! It looks so fresh and spring like.

Bless - I love that idea of the chipped dish meaning bad luck leaving. I shall hold on to that. I'll have to go some way before I catch up with your lovely garden. I hope that you get the sweater sorted out soon - it's so frustrating to have to undo and re-knit.

My cellulitis is flaring up again and I trundled over to the doctor and got a prescription. I had to go along the old route to bear's primary school from all those years ago. I spotted the dead nettles which absolutely were never there before. It's not a brilliant pic, but I hope you can see them.

I nipped out to Tesco for the prescription (more antibiotics) and picked up some goodies for bear and then back home. 

Bear is a little stressed. I've spent a lot of the day listening to him. He's working on all the different ways he can score extra marks on the different subjects and trying to work out where to focus his efforts. It's going to be a long few months. His exams end on, I think, 21st June. 

Bear has also requested a particular maths textbook that he would like not because he needs it for a course but because complicated maths is fun. It's £60. The super duper complicated calculator that can do weird stuff and that he'll need next year is more expensive. We have the money, but I can see the costs stacking up so I think I'll be spending some time working on budgets for the next few days. 

As for walking, I wasn't brisk anywhere, but I've put in just over 5k and I plan to walk in circles in the living room for a while.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Another Dull Day

Marjorie - thank you. I confess that I didn't see it as a broken dish but more as a shopping opportunity.

There's not much to write about. I had a long day out, sitting in a car park with my knitting. I picked up some replacement oven proof dishes (I'll try and remember to take a pic) which were on clearance, collected bear's dry cleaning and generally relaxed. I had a few walks around the car park, and spotted this.

I'm not sure what it is, and the pic is pretty poor, but it reminded me a little of lilac, but not only is it too early but the flowers aren't quite right. It was very pretty.

Unfortunately, while I was knitting I had some story ideas, so I'm jotting them down now. Nothing may come of them, but it would be a shame to forget them.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 10 April 2023

I Dropped a Dish

Bless - working up to thirty minutes walking is the sensible way to do it. I hope that you are enjoying (and your garden is lovely to walk in)

Sharon - thank you. Sometimes quiet is heaven

Cherie - on blogger, there is a thing for comments. For me, at the top, there is a tab saying 'Awaiting Moderation' and there's a little downward pointing arrow that opens a menu. I see 'All', 'Awaiting Moderation', 'Published', and 'Spam'. I found quite a few comments from friends in the spam folder when I started looking. 

Yesterday I planted some sweetpeas from Tesco. They looked incredibly healthy in the store, so fingers crossed that they grow. I'm not hiding the state of the garden at the moment, which is appalling. It's against the iron trellis and the old honeysuckle, which is also looking remarkably healthy.

I'm hoping to get the honeysuckle (which tends to die off a bit after June) and sweet peas intertwining. I shall have to be very keen on deadheading, which may deprive the squirrel and birds, but we're keeping the bird feeder topped up. The squirrel is incredibly broad in the beam.

Above is a small patch of earth that has four gooseberry plants from last year, three fuchsias from Tesco (the offer was 3 for £6) and a very small rosemary plant. They say that rosemary flourishes where women wear the trousers. According to DH, the rosemary should be shooting up wildly and rampaging like a triffid down the street. According to me it will need all the care and attention I can lavish on it just to survive. 

I don't expect the fuchsias to take off like father's fuchsia. That was down to father entirely. Speaking of which, I'm going to keep hacking it back. Look how it's taking over the space from the yellow rose. 

That rose is older than bear, I bought it for 50p when it was half dead, and it has survived all the neglect I can throw at it. I'll encourage the fuchsia to grow up and not out, as the other side has a lilac that I really like.

The rose is looking the healthiest I've seen in years. I suspect that the sparrows are decimating the aphids that normally live there. 

That was yesterday. Today I dropped the dish I normally use for DH's pasta bake. It's pyrex, but it chipped. It gets a lot of wear, so I'm not really surprised, but I'm not really comfortable using a chipped oven dish. That is the main news of the day, that I dropped a dish. I'm feeling quite calm and relaxed and ready to move with purpose, so that's good. I've also almost finished the back of the sweater that I planned to knit for Lent. I think that's typical for me, but I want to get it finished soon.

Writing stuff - an instalment of Invitation Accepted is here.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 6 April 2023

Sort of Quiet

Bless - the walk is a work in progress, but I think that it's definitely worth it for me. As for the salad, DH said that it tasted fine.

Cherie - you were absolutely right! A quiet day has done me a lot of good.

I had a delivery this morning, then bear got the bus to meet with his friends for some study and apparently some studying was done, as well as a certain amount of hanging out together. Then I pottered around with some writing stuff until I went to pick him up this evening. I've done around three thousand steps, which include nipping into Aldi, a visit to Morrisons toilets (which were an utter disgrace) and a quick look around the reduced section. My knee is hurting, but I'm sure that I'll get over it. 

I had a rummage in my spam folder on here. I found a lot of very strange spam but also some old messages including one from Witch Hazel dating from 2014. And there was a hug from Justjill, which made me pause for a moment. 

And now I'm off for an early night.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 5 April 2023

An Expensive Bag of Salad

Sharon - thank goodness I won't have to make that run again for a while! And I think that you're right. It's been the other drivers that have bothered me as the road is nothing particularly difficult. There are too many small vans, I think, who are driven by young lads who don't really care about what happens to the boss's vehicle.

I dropped bear off this morning around 9am and then had a brisk walk up and down the White Rose Centre - definitely indoors as it was raining. The car park was pretty empty as the main area didn't open until 10am, although some of the shops were open so I was able to briskly walk for around twenty minutes and two thousand steps. 

Then I picked up a small bottle of cola and a gluten free treat and headed to a car park. As it was raining, I decided it was going to be my day out this week and I went to a car park where I sat and knitted in the rain. It is incredibly soothing for me and brilliant for my mental health. The car park was also quite empty.

But the shop was open and so were the toilets so I wandered to and from a few times, each time making sure that I went the long way around. I also thought of Tolkien's verse, 'In every wood, in every spring, there is a different green,'

I managed to get back to the White Rose where the car park was absolutely full - really heaving. I managed to get a spot in a far corner and then did a brief walk inside the shopping centre before diving into Sainsburys again to pick up some salad for DH. I spent £18.10. Of that, £1.10 was the salad, £16 was the top and sweater dress that were not only half price but my size and in my favourite colours and £1 for the bag that I unexpectedly needed to put them in, as I thought I was only going to buy a small bag of salad. 

Bear made his own dinner (something beige and beans) and I was pitifully grateful. At time of typing, I'm just over seven thousand steps and I'm exhausted. To be honest, the drive, even though it's shorter, has taken it out of me and last week was tough as well. I plan on not walking anywhere particular tomorrow. 

I've spent this evening trying to make sure that every post on my writer's blog has a proper category. There are over two hundred posts, over three hundred if you count all the ones that have been duplicated. I'm going to have to go through them again a few times, but I can't face that at the moment. I've managed to categorise all but the last month or so, and I'll take that. 

At least bear's course is over now. He's going to a library with friends for revision tomorrow, but he's going by bus - by his own choice. I'm not sure if I'll have to do pick up. I'm sure that I'll find out. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Catching Up

Sharon - thank you, that's great praise from you. I think of those skies as April skies. I think that the sky can be such an amazing colour this month. 

Bless - thank you. Driving continues scary

Eileen - I don't know where bear got his great attitude from, but it's working for him. The walking is getting better.

Today's drive was still scary. The highlight in the morning trip was when a car not only cut me up at the traffic lights but swerved across traffic to get to the motorway. It got away as soon as the lights change and I am glad that my reflexes exist. I may fit the profile of someone who is slow away from the lights (older lady, citroen) but I move with purpose when the lights start changing. 

I dropped bear off and got lost in the car park before heading towards Tesco. I didn't have a walk in the park as I was running late, but dropped off bear's tie and blazer for the dry cleaning (as requested, I think that they could have lasted the next few weeks plus exams but I'm glad that he wants to be smart). I nipped in to Tesco for the flavoured water that he likes, and picked up a reduced pack of casserole veggies for 70p instead of £1.20. I'm keeping an eye out for celery for the freezer, but no luck so far. 

I pottered around a little bit with some housewifery, basically just moving things to their right places, then nipped out to pick up bear. As I didn't have a walk earlier, and I didn't want to wander around in early afternoon sun, even in April, I did a quick walk along the length of the White Rose Centre and back.

I think I walked briskly for around 25 minutes, to the best of my ability, but a crowded shopping centre isn't brilliant for a brisk walk. I only added around two thousand steps, and I'm on around 4200 at the moment after that and the walk around Tesco, but I'll live with that at the moment. I'm tired and I'll start again tomorrow. However the walk is getting easier, so that is definitely something. I also got some knitting done, and I really enjoyed that.

I picked up bear, getting lost on the way in, but at least I identified some spaces around the far end of Sainsbury where there was shade. Then I got bewildered on the way out, ended up in the wrong lane and ended up with another circle around a couple of car park sections. 

I converted the veggies to soup with some spices, stock cubes and lentils, and not only was it very pleasant but when I go back down, I'll have at least three or four more portions to stash away. I'm already mentally looking forward to them. Bear hasn't wanted anything. I don't know if he is just hitting a quiet spot in the growing spurts or whether he went in hard at the lunch provided at the classes. The last one is tomorrow. 

I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow, apart from bear's lifts. I'm not even sure what I'm doing in the next hour (apart from putting up the soup). However over the next few days I really want to catch up with the blogs that I've been missing. I feel adrift without them.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 3 April 2023

It's Monday

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments. I felt hugged and I was very grateful. 

The parking ticket has been sorted out and cancelled. Looking back, it only took a few minutes to take screen shots of my google maps and I didn't have to pay the £35. 

Bear is completely set up. He has now put a small folding table and chair up in the living room where there are no distractions and he has been working hard on revision. Today he didn't as he went to the revision class set up by the new college. 

Bear was a little bored as it was all stuff he knew, but he enjoyed himself and got free food. The commute was soooo much shorter but completely terrifying. The course was held near the White Rose Centre at the south edge of Leeds which meant the Ring Road. This road gets more like Mad Max every day and I really don't like it. What is worse - I have to change lanes. 

When it comes to driving, I am used to steep hills, blind corners, double parking, unexpected buses and some truly awful turns. This means that when it comes to dual carriageways, I'm out of my depth and I struggle. I was so relieved when I dropped bear off without too much trouble. Then I got lost in the car park. I mean, the car park at the White Rose Centre is massive and has all sorts of different zones and this morning I visited every single one of them.

I had quite a busy morning after that. Bear wanted some paper for his revision so when I called in to Marks and Spencer for DH's salad and fruit, I thought I would call in at the overpriced and intimidating WH Smiths, as I remembered there being one in the same shopping park as M&S. It had shut. However Wilkos did paper, of decent quality and no doubt a lot less expensive. Then I picked up the fruit and salad and headed to the park.  

I was determined to go for a walk. I've heard that it has real benefits to walk 30 minutes a day, and I was going to have a go. I did my usual little path at a brisk pace and it took about five minutes. This was something of a shock. When I first started walking there, it would absolutely have taken at least fifteen minutes. I spotted a sapling growing through ivy. I wonder if the park will let it grow there.

I did a quick turn around the grassy square, which, while being very dull, was a little longer than my usual path and I managed a grand total of around fifteen minutes brisk walk (plus a doggy cuddle, which is a bonus). 

Walking may need some work. I need to make sure that I fit it into the day. After the walk I headed to Aldi for pine nuts and cola, followed by Tesco for fizzy pop for bear, cheese for DH and crisps. I got home at midday and I'd already done 5k steps. 

I'm not sure how the steps match up with the brisk walk, so I think I'll aim for the walk regardless of where I shop. I'm moving a lot better than I was a few years ago, and I want to keep going. I made DH dinner to reheat as I wasn't sure that I'd get back in good time, had a 'proper' lunch which was eggy bread. It's not exactly the most healthy of meals, but it's better than crisps and chocolate. I managed a little writing stuff and then headed out along the scary scary ring road to pick up bear. 

Bear came home with papers, a folder, a book, a pencil, pen, sharpener, ruler and a feeling of frustration that it wasn't new stuff. I was a nervous wreck. At one point I was heading into a big junction governed by traffic lights. I was immediately behind a lorry as I entered the junction, but there were two cars between us as I exited as they cut in. It wasn't that big a junction, just a generously sized cross roads. 

I'm also over the 6k target as I nipped into Sainsburys to see if they had any gluten free bread, but they didn't have anything that looked as nice as Tesco's version so I gave it a miss. I need to get a load of housewifery done this evening but I'm not sure which disaster area I should pick first. 

Writing stuff - Invitation Accepted Chapter Eight is up and ready to read. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I'm already getting stuck in to Chapter Nine. 

Whisper in the Shadows is out now as an eBook and a paperback version will be out soon. The delay is entirely my fault. 


This is a huge weight off my shoulders. I'll be tidying up Dark Picture and Under Dark Hills and putting them out there as eBooks as well over the next few months. I don't know if anyone remembers the collection of stories that I put together as 'Across a Misty Bridge' which was the story of Steve Adderson and how he became part of the non normal world. It was a series that had grown from ideas, writing prompts and a sense of where it tied in with the Forgotten Village and Digging up the Past. It isn't available online anywhere at the moment and it turns out that I don't have a proper text document holding all those stories, so I'll have to do some reconstruction. What I found was some stories that I liked, but that dated back to 2013. My writing has improved immensely since then so I am tentatively planning to re-write the story and add it to the likely output of eBooks. I am absolutely not putting a deadline on that because every time I do that, it goes wrong. 

Hugs and good health to all.