After death

I pulled up my socks and set off on a day trip last week to rescue some possessions that X had ‘wished’ to us. .. After a drink my distaste for the whole day had melted a bit, but I still felt it was wrong to be peering at her possessions. However the others had done far more of it, and had much more to do so I swallowed my dislike and ended up with a bag full of china, an anorak and a skirt. … sent me home with a determination to throw out more junk (not yet quite fulfilled, but I have started several times!)

I feel none of us paid enough attention to X but that is absurd as she was wrapped up in her friends there and all their doings! She was so very good to us all and did so much for all her friends – we have heard so many examples of the kindnesses she did to all sorts of unexpected people.

the round bed

I had a lovely time during the week when I was rather specially remembering X as I was alone in her beloved garden and could feel very close to her. I even braved the little round bed that contains the ashes and gave it a good dig and some peat to help drown the ashes, which don’t seem to have mingled quite as expected!

As you say, it is amazing how things pile up. X’s neighbour of 90 died recently after having lived alone in the same house for over 40 years. It took a woman who was I think designated as Executor of her Will over four months of daily grind to get it all cleared out and the house sold… She used to tell me that she was going right home to clear out her own house before it was too late! But one never does of course, and the moment you do throw something out you find that you need it!

Just a note with some sad news I’m afraid. Mum died quite suddenly a few days ago… She died at home in her own comfy bed, which is what we all hoped would be the case, as she hated hospitals… After attending the Catholic church for many years, she decided to make it “official” and was baptised a Catholic three days before she died… So it is to be a Catholic funeral which really seems not much different in any case.

Foreign parts

We are not far from the Limpopo physically, but centuries away from Kipling’s (?) description (in a manner of speaking). That’s what is so disappointing after my other trips and stays in Africa.

You seem set to come to Portugal but I wonder if you realise it’s gloomier here in winter than at home. Although it’s a bit warmer, people don’t have heating in their homes, and this high-rise flat in the suburbs is obviously built with the heat of summer in mind (i.e. lots of outside walls, no carpets). It rains lots too and is very windy. If you think you don’t mind all that, do bring umbrella, waterproof shoes and a couple of sweaters, but most of all don’t forget a sleeping bag. [This did not prove – with further off-putting remarks – to be an irresistible invitation!]

Last weekend our class hired a car and went to Sesimbra and then to Evora. It’s there that they have the Chapel of Bones that X talked about. My friends couldn’t understand why I was so keen to see this gruesome room with walls made of thigh bones and skulls.

There was a gale blowing and high waves, so, with coral reefs on each side of the entrance and the most vicious sharks to be found anywhere, we decided to head up north and try to land on the lee side of Madagascar.

The two other people who’ve arrived came from Zamboanga on one of the regular boats which nearly sank because it was overloaded. (One sank a couple of weeks ago and 100 people were drowned or eaten by sharks.) After that our journey seems safe by comparison. 

pet parrot

 

 

I do have a separated ‘room’ to myself in the house at the moment which is very nice. The pet parrot is demolishing the straw divide little by little.

Voluntary work

Things from the Bring & Buy sale

Our Bring and Buy sale yesterday achieved its aim of buying yoga mats for the members of the Day Centre who have a course going every year. And it made a good bit more too for other occupational therapy things, so that was amazing and good. We had our usual junk on the stall and sold quite a lot, and the prices were a bit lower than sometimes which was good. I managed to get away with not buying things I didn’t want and came out with 2 tomato plants, a box of tissues and 3 squashy bits of flapjack which were over-greasy and leaked everywhere on the way home! 

Our room [for volunteers] in the main hospital has been an annexe off a store in which all the stuff from one of the wards was housed while it was also being redecorated. An old gents’ ward and the chairs and beds all give off the most penetrating smell!! I will leave the rest to your imagination, but I am thankful that it hasn’t been too warm, as the window won’t open and I should have died.

[re care home] We had a lovely Garden Party there in July – not meant to be a money-raising concern, but the 2 or 3 stalls, tea and raffle brought in something short of £2000!!

We have the Mothers’ Union coffee evening at the house and a local fete, and now face a 50/50 auction in the village hall this weekend in aid of the church. Some very queer objects going from me, and I hope others are giving more valuable possessions than I am.

I will cut down on my voluntary activities as I found last year I was just pushing the children away to make this phone call and that. I am President of the Parents’ Association which I formed along with another lady last February. I am not a Guide Leader this year although I am taking my camping certificate.

Good luck with the cake stall – I like those as the goodies always sell well – at the most ridiculous prices! I did the handicrafts at the hospital WI’s garden party on Saturday and found myself facing a mass of rather badly made articles of uncertain origin and mainly covered with dog’s hairs! Made by our VSO who is most worthy and inventive, but not madly careful in execution! Anyhow nobody came really, except for the few members who were not involved on stalls and any of their friends they could snare, so there were few sales of my goodies – and a good drenching downpour ended it early! On Monday we had a jolly day trying to dry off all these dreary, slightly smelly, woollen objects strewn all over the office – in preparation to packing them away for the next fund-raising concern!

Wedded bliss (not)

It was a disastrous marriage in a way – they were ‘given’ a farm – and then had constant orders on how to run it by in-laws who knew nothing about it. X could do nothing right as in-laws thought she should sit at home and ‘play ladies’ which she had no intention of doing… she got so fed up she said it was to be her or the in-laws so he gave the farm back and they went to Australia…

Like you, my one hope is that if the separation becomes permanent, which looks likely, they will both manage to pretend they are adults – although I know that’s hard when you are only in your 40s and your ‘ex’ is totally unreasonable, insensitive, a bastard, and wrong to boot. Ho hum: I don’t really envy either of them. 

Double income

Has X managed to sort out her love-life? The joys of marriage!! I think we are better off. I must say I envy a ‘two salary: two can live as cheaply as one’ set up. But there is a price to pay unless you get very lucky. I think I’ll always opt for independence and being poorer!! 

 

I guess she took the attitude that eventually he would be living his own life and felt she had to grab her happiness while she could. Hope it worked out for her.

I gather X has turned out a quite hopeless case. And is married to some girl who refuses to join in any family gatherings, be it Christmas or whatever.

New acquaintances

I’ve also got myself a visiting job – a doctor who has fairly recently lost his sight. I was told he could do with someone to read to him from time to time. We started on the newspapers, and have now progressed on his suggestion to the Book of Revelation – but we don’t generally cover much as we slide off into mutual comment and anecdote!

Misunderstanding

I found her very kind, interesting and easy to get on with. It was difficult she spoke so quietly and I hear so quietly – if you see what I mean! but I trust we didn’t talk at cross purposes too much. One we discovered – I thought she was speaking of Russia and she was in fact speaking of Sweden – I was quite amazed at some of her statements!

 A real time waster today was a call by X who dropped in on his way home and effectively filled the time between lunch and tea with talk. He touched among other subjects on stress in the halfshafts of Land Rovers, the method of construction adopted for the interior walls of his house and its relationship to the problems of fitting sliding doors and extra power; plus common misunderstandings of the rates system and other equally enlightening subjects. In fact, he is a crashing bore. A pity, since he is obviously a kindly man, and it is very friendly of him to look in on us.

We were invited next door… She has a very loud voice, and is a great talker, so X was sitting there for about two hours trying to keep her finger in her ear on that side without it being obvious. I was feeling battered at one remove by the end, so it must have been very painful for her. Every now and then we tried to make it a conversation by starting off, ‘That reminds me of…’ – but not with much success.

I liked him better than her really – but a few words at the top of ones voice in the middle of a party is not much to judge on.

However she’s quite pleasant, and he is, but is very outspoken if he feels like it and calls a spade a b. shovel: last week we missed Bridge and evidently he and our ex-president flared up (he’s a Union man and a pain in the neck) and X raised a fist and asked him to step outside – X retired with a heart and last year had a triple bypass op. and Y had a stroke earlier in the year, and both well into the 70s – it must have been quite a show!

Hobbies

My bobbin lace making has come along a bit… I have made very little though. I had a vision of making everyone a lace edging for a handkerchief and giving them away at Christmas. Then it got to bookmarks. So far I have made about 1/3rd of a very thin lace edging for a handkerchief. I shall start earlier next year.

I found one shop with one kind of Jap. paper, white with lots of strands in it, it cost the same as going over the Opera House, so I gave away the Opera House! I walked all round the outside, and don’t really go for looking over places anyway.

I have started back the painting lessons, trying to be a bit more creative, a bubble inside which stands a horse and his cavalier, taken from a photo of a horse-show from my neighbour’s son. I am painting two, at the same time, but the reproduction of exactitude is lacking. We’ll see the ending whole, not doubt excellent. [Modesty!]

I’ve never spent that much on material but as it was 60 inches wide I didn’t need much. Having cut it as the Vogue pattern suggested – making the waist size 18 and the all below size 16 – I got in a panic when I thought I couldn’t get in it – but once pressed all was well – tho’ sitting has to be thought about!

Sitting has to be thought about

I’ve finished my set of chessmen, knights and all! (One of the dark ones still looks remarkably like a rampant boar, but that wood splinters easily, and I decided against trying to make it more equine.) I don’t think any two of the pawns exactly match and the white king is about a quarter of an inch taller than the dark one, and one of the white bishops almost as tall as the queen – but who wants standardisation?

One of the things I saw at the Creativity Workshop was painting with a balloon. Have you ever tried it?

My knitting machine has a half-finished sleeve dangling sadly from it, where it has been for about three months. However I do hope to do something about that soon.

‘Lather’s Lung’ sounds horrid. I shall be much more careful with my mask in future!

Uppers and downers

“She has been busy organising her exhibition. Busy doing a million things in fact! She’s been enjoying the burst of energy these drugs have brought, I think, and has been quite funny about it all. He seems to be standing the pace too!”

“X got asthma but we got some medicine and he’s heaps better now. Just hope we don’t get a hyper reaction to it – sometimes he loses whatever sense of responsibility a 3 year old can be said to have!”

“… won’t be independent for shopping etc. if I have to give up the car – I can’t really quite decide if I ought to stop because of eyes but in the meantime go on! So glad to hear that your eyes were ‘better’ with the different man – it is a completely hit and miss game as far as I understand it and one just to trust them.”

the paediatrician

“…there was time to get X gooed at by the paediatrician at the hospital (‘Isn’t he lovely?… Yes, quite well… Bring him back any time -$31 please!’)”

“I cured myself eventually by announcing to the consultant that his precious blood pressure pills were killing me and I was getting lower and lower in spirits – so had tried without them on my own and found myself feeling better. So we abandoned them and I revived at once and am now full of beans – still short of puff but that is now put down to smoking all my life, until a year ago, instead of ‘heart’ which it was first thought to be… The greatest joy is to feel alive instead of permanently half dead and blacking out at the thought of doing anything… thank goodness this nice consultant is amenable to being told that I don’t want too many of his pills – still having 3 different things to take each day despite knocking the worst one off: what would Maggie [Thatcher] think? I am sure they all cost the earth, and being ancient I get them for free.”