Things children say 3

He’d been to a rather surprising sculpture display at the art gallery and when he got back to school he was asked to draw whatever he liked best at the art gallery. ‘So,’ he said, ‘I drew me’!

How are you? I have just learnt how to do writing. Mummy hos boughty me two Guitir bookS. and I am up to exercise 20. I am also Working on the Cherry Song. love from X   P.S. and at School we are working on a 100-years ago

A few week’s ago my class & school Had a bomb-scare, it was very scary. The dog’s came but They could not find the bomb. 10 minutes later the same man rang up St. X. In both school’s there was no bomb.

‘Mummy – I don’t understand’ / ‘What don’t you understand?’ / ‘Me’. As X says most profound for a 2 year old!

X and Y had apparently got into a mix-up the day before – X says that he was trying to get one of the paints out of his paint tray for Y and the tray slipped – but whatever it was, their mother answered the howls and discovered Y pouring with yet more of his frequently letted blood. I suspect X’s account of the incident may not have been exactly the whole truth and nothing but as he is being very possessive at present about anything he wants to play with.

X talks with a slight lisp which is fun at present, and he hasn’t started showing off yet, and chats away to himself about the oddest things. I asked him where his trousers were and was told ‘they gone shopping’.

School is being a great success. He endeared himself to his teacher on his first morning by walking in and saying, ‘You knew I was coming, why didn’t you put my name on my peg so I could hang my coat up?’ Little darling!

[A unit on safety in school] We also had the kids wandering round with ‘dangerous objects’ for a display – one easy way to have an accident I’d have thought! One boy brought a hand grenade which he swore was live. I have my doubts myself!

[Birthday request] A pad of drawing paper ‘white like my shirt on both sides. This intrigued me and his mother thought it very funny as he obviously felt fobbed off with some he’d been given to scribble on with print on the back, and obviously newsprint was not wanted!!

I got her to read road signs – 2 classics we had: ‘falling debts’ instead of ‘Falling Debris’, and ‘Wondering stock’ instead of ‘Wandering stock’.

[child of 2y] ‘Oh daddy you’ve spilt your puddy. Naughty daddy. I won’t spank you this time, but if you ever do it again I’ll be very cross.’

Older child had been speaking about her school project on gnomes. When she had finished the younger one proceeded to say something like, ‘The Catholic church is telling the members to go back to eating no meat on Fridays.’ Older one looked puzzled and said, ‘But there aren’t any gnomes alive today are there?’ Dad said, ‘No, why do you ask?’ Reply, ‘Then how can Catholics eat gnome meat on Fridays?’!!!

Gnome meat

 

Volunteering 2

One likely candidate is a fairly ‘rough diamond’ who has been with us about 18 months – a man who X is apparently denigrating saying we don’t want a trade union secretary as a president! I can’t think of a better training for managing our members than to be a T.U. secretary!

We had the first of the Greenpeace beach clean-ups last Saturday for the new season, and managed to collect quite a pile of junk. It is odd that there is one particular stretch of beach near the river mouth which seems to specialise in bathing shorts, and similar bits of clothing. Very odd. I have noticed it several times, and this time I think I got three pairs, and another man working in the same area said he had got some too.

The swimwear triangle

We had the Bridge Club AGM last night – a lot of waffling, under woolly chairmanship by our retiring (thank goodness) president. The next one is the wife of a Brigadier, and will keep us all in order and be efficient and hardworking and lucid, no doubt. All the more important, so far as I am concerned, since I am now back on the Committee as they were having trouble finding a treasurer and I said I would take a turn.

I’ve just sent away to find out if I’d be suitable for any VSA vacancies for next year and if it sounds likely I may follow that up further to see if they’d take me. That’s usually also for two years and counts as continued service over here which is a big factor in getting jobs. I get enthusiastic and not in turns about the idea (typical!) but think on the whole it’s a good thing to do and if I’m going to do it then now is a better time than in 2 years time.

Talking of incompetent volunteers, a fortnight ago we broke up the path from my study door to the garage and prepared it for re-concreting. It ‘only’ took 2 1/2 hours for 2 qualified civil engineers, a medical specialist, two accountants and an educationalist at tertiary level. Yesterday I hoped the concrete was going down – but no luck. Someone had boobed over ordering the materials so it looks as though we shall be stumbling over the sub-structure for another 3 weeks until the team can reassemble. A pity.

I am delighted to say that we managed to introduce some new blood into our vestry and reduce the average age a bit at our Annual Meeting. This had all been organised beforehand and just as well since again we only had 24 people present (out of a magazine distribution of 700!) It is said that a lot of people stay away for fear of being elected to do something if they come.

House repairs & housekeeping 4

I am glad we didn’t have to build – our valuer and lawyer warned us against it as you never know how much it will all end up as and we’ve got an established garden with a 35 ft oak tree +++ and it’s all in very good condition.

I don’t envy you the trauma of property hunting – I was quite exhausted and bemused after seeing about 20 – and only too glad to clinch the first one we saw when it ‘came back’.

On Christmas Day we let off 3 borer bombs. [Strange antipodean custom???] Alas I dropped the match on the one under the house instead of lighting the fuse and the instant pall of black smoke was accompanied for about 5 seconds by a 3 ft tongue of flame which lapped hopefully at the floor boards above! As I’d just warned the fire people that I was letting off the bombs I had visions of my calls for the brigade being laughed off with ‘Oh she’ll be right, mate – it’s only a borer bomb; now if you’ll give us a couple of minutes we’ll get stuck into a couple of dozen Christmas beers in the office here.’

Flames at Christmas

I spent a couple of hours one afternoon taking the TV aerial off the chimney (which has frequent and large cracks in it) in the hope that this would prevent it getting worse. I borrowed one ladder – a heavy wooden one – from our neighbour to get up to the roof, and slung our aluminium steps over the ridge to get up to the chimney stack – and when I had finished I left the wire brace round the chimney and wished I had a couple more to help hold it together. I’ve also managed to make the third part of the bookcase – and hope that when I’ve finished painting and bring it upstairs it’s going to be a bit more of a success than the disastrous other bits.

We’re so tidy it’s agony – I hope it sells quickly for that alone! We decided that to keep inside and outside to present state all the time we’d need a gardener and maid!

The problem is to know how to dry out the batts in the roof, even when you have stopped the leak. I discovered a nail sprung, above, and caulked and hammered that, and then cut a two inch hole in the ceiling and rigged up the old Electrolux to blow air in through it. After most of a day it seemed all dry, so I plugged the hole with a round of softboard fixed in with Polyfilla. Just when I had got it all painted the next day we had another gale with heavy rain – and it was evident that I hadn’t cured the leak! So the whole process has had to be repeated – this time I put gungy tape all down a join in the roof where the edge of one sheet is bent up a bit and presumably catching a lot of water that drives in in a high wind.

Friends and neighbours 2

I have a terrible tenant next door – a raucous lady with 9 dogs who make a hideous din – and so does she.

I really felt completely out of touch with X when she visited, but 50 years ago is quite a time, and we’ve both had quite different lives.

 Last Monday they both thought that someone had come during the night to take away the 5 geese brought up by one hen. It is very funny to see the geese following Mother Hen and her chicks. Anyway they (geese) had gone walking to the neighbours who brought them back.

She’s nice, I hope we meet again. The house is fantastic, and if I had 3 living-in maids, (God forbid), and 1 or 2 gardeners, I’d love to live there.

The [neighbour] on one side is mafia, by his own boast, and likes to rearrange the boundary lines to suit himself, in spite of my paying for a legal survey! Then he abused me verbally for about 20 mins because I was clipping back what he describes as ‘his’ hedge.

The next door lady had her ‘Happy Circle’ Christmas party yesterday so at least I have avoided that by saying I was a bit busy just at the moment and would join later; very soon the time will come when I must go and be happy weekly with a lot of other old ducks I suppose.

Xmas with the old ducks

The nice girl next to me has left but she sold to a quite pleasant family so I am not too unhappy! Dad works hard in digging up his lawn… Mum is a little robin and rather good fun I should think, and there appears to be a resident daughter who is very pleasant. Somebody told me today that she had been married and is now walking out with somebody else…

I am kind of scared about seeing my friends in London, maybe I’ve moved away from them in my thinking – this time last year if you’d mentioned living in the woods on an island with 250 people I’d have run laughing into the nearest boutique! I’m really looking forward to seeing you though – I don’t get that feeling when I contemplate that – so please be around in December!

It’s funny when you’re away from people. Sometimes you’ll pop into my head for no apparent reason, then I won’t be thinking about you for a long time, then when I sit down and write I feel right there with you even though I haven’t seen you for three years, and I wish we could have a long conversation, instead of you writing and telling me where you’re at and then six months later me writing where I’m at.

Bureaucracy

We seemed to do all the same business, as usual (some of these decisions have been on the books for 3 years!), the Treasurer and the manager had their all too common argument, the Treasurer resigned and then unresigned – ho hum!

She doesn’t get on with her boss… The latest thing was that her 2nd band girls were not to be allowed work merit points for good marks in their test because they’d beaten the 1st band girls, who are meant to be brighter. ‘It would make a nonsense of the banding system.’

The forms get more and more complicated every year it seems, as they introduce more and more computers. And I heard of a friend had an amended return for this year which the computer had worked out. He rang up to say he couldn’t understand it and how had he got his figures wrong – and the girl at the other end eventually admitted that it was the computer that was wrong.

But it seems they propose to change the rates of the old surtax to collect extra money from us! The wriggles of the Social Welfare minister, a fat lady called X, to avoid admitting she made a mistake and avoid apologising for it have to be seen to be believed. Quite odorous.

The wriggling bureaucrat

He spent a week checking the safety of two tunnels that are being built. He found that they weren’t safe. He’d naturally expected them to be re-designed to make them safe. But you’ll never believe what he was told – they just wanted to know for their records – in case something happens! I just pray nothing does!!

Clothes 2

Your dress for Christmas Day lunch seems to have been slightly touch and go. I seem to remember your aunt doing the same sort of thing for a dance sometimes, when we shared a flat and having to be either pinned or sewn into her dress because there wasn’t time to do the hooks and eyes or whatever archaic form or fastening was used in those days.

 

Drama over her veil at 2.15 nearly killed me. I got down from lunch at the hotel to find the bride and a pal waltzing round in jeans and anoraks – ‘I think I need a little advice about my veil’. I could have have murdered them all as the 3 bridesmaids were supposed to have sorted that the previous day! It was a lovely old lace veil and I had washed it and pinned it out a fortnight ago.

Bath-hat and pants

Here we were, at 2.15 with the bride in pants and a bath-hat, 3 bridesmaids fully dressed, X standing holding his half-hunter and due to leave the house at 2.30 (wedding at 3 and some 10 miles away). The dress was still in its plastic bag, but luckily such a good fit that one could zip her into it in a flash, but the veil gave us problems and I couldn’t get it right till we had put it on and off three times, because the pattern round the square was rather thick and looked as if she had a layer of porridge all over her face! To my horror as she came up the aisle her face was all ‘porridge’ again and she had caught the veil on the brim of Y’s vast pink hat as they came up the aisle (luckily this caused giggles rather than tears).

 

I came across the suit I was looking for. With some misgivings, it was $281 for 6 pieces. I took it on appro, praise be. When I tried it all on the next day, jacket, waistcoat, scarf (!), skirt, trews and blouse I decided the only two things that really fitted were the last two, and $140 each was too much.

It’s a long time since I saw X and I suppose the most memorable thing, apart from his face is the fantastic waistcoats that he and a friend of his were wearing when I first met him (must be about 1937!) There was some exploit or story of it involving a goat, too, but just what has now escaped me.

Gardening 4

I wish she could live in a smaller, brighter and warmer house with about an eighth of the hedge and half of the lawns to look after – or a team of large schoolboys ready to be hired next door.

I went for a pleasant though chilly walk along the beach with the dog, amid clouds of swirling sand, as the wind was strong. There are some nice houses along the stretch there, which one doesn’t see from the road, and some of them have attempts at gardening right down to the sand, with succulents and so on. But the actual bottom of their gardens is hardly fairy-like; they are obviously bothered with erosion and each frontage has its own endeavour to counter it – here a concrete wall, then posts and planks, then old stakes with old motor tyres thrown on them, and so on.

Bugs in the garden are being a real worry this year, and I have had to root up a very promising row of broad beans as something ate all the centre of the main shoot out! I was so proud of them too but hadn’t bothered to examine them closely. Pigeons attack from above, slugs from below and the weather from all round, so it is parlous hard – but good exercise and profitable if anything does come up!

Parlous hard!

Pause to go and drive two cats off my vegetable patch where they were indulging in preliminary love-play all over my small cauliflower plants. Not nice at 9.40 a.m., and definitely counter-productive of caulis at any rate.

The house has a well-planned and flat veg garden, a fig tree and lemon, peaches plus plus plus, but as it’s only 6 years old they are only about 6-9 foot tall, but things grow almost as you watch them there, and they said they had put down 100 lbs of runner beans last year.

I noticed the lawn was getting terribly mossy, so got some iron sulphate and scattered it about – not very evenly, I fear, for the next morning it has turned black in patches! The agent who came the other day and seemed knowledgeable said the real trouble was some worser-than-grass-grub animal, called something like piranha (though I thought that was a fish) – it lives 18 inches down but comes up to feed on the grass roots.

Ageing 5

It seems to have been a busy time – at my desk as well as elsewhere, and just recently (i.e. the last few months) I have found that I have to use my glasses for reading and writing, or else I quickly get squiffy-eyed. So it becomes less attractive to sit there all day.

I think I’m going senile – frightfully interesting things to tell you keep flitting through my mind and I can’t catch hold of them before they go out the other side!

Vanishing ideas

One letter was from X: they have had such bad luck healthwise. He has been in hospital again and is constantly under the doctor and can’t do anything, and her eyes are worse and she can’t get the other one operated on until May, and to help things along she broke her back this winter skiing, and, as she has no car, life must have been more than maddening.

A member of the bridge club was playing last night after doing 18 holes of golf, had a stroke this morning – that’s the one depressing thing about this place, it makes you realise you’re in the zone, so to speak, all too often.

She hoped she could keep driving her car whilst she was at her present house, as she wouldn’t enjoy being graciously given a lift to town once a week to shop! How I agree with her.

X has taken a new lease of life since his eye was ‘done’ – he can see much better than me! I can’t get used to his 8 pills he has to take for his heart tho’ – one of which is the cause of his gout so he has another for that!

We took meals on wheels to a lady in much the same state as your friend last week. X (who does the going in bit) was busy for quarter of an hour trying to encourage her to get out of her large and empty house, complete with tennis court, which she has been alone in for about 13 years – and go and live in one of our retirement villages instead. She told X that she was now so frightened of people that she never goes out of the house. But it seemed to have done her good to have got some of it off her chest.

Hobbies 4

We went round last night and played bridge with X & Y. We had fantastic cards and had a lovely evening – not so X & Y!

One of the more interesting stands was the local coloured wool weavers and spinners. I was surprised at the price they were asking for two or three sacks of wool they had there. About thirty dollars. Admittedly, I suppose they contained about four fleeces, or at any rate three – and I did get $7 for my biggest one the other day. They had one large bag labelled in large letters COTTED FLEECE, which was word I hadn’t come across before. It apparently meant so tangled and matted that it was practically impossible to pull out and card. Most of mine are a bit like that!

She was keen to have a demonstration of spinning on a wheel. We had a bit of wool there and I managed to get her wheel going reasonably and spun a little bit, and she then had a go and after 15 or 20 minutes had got the hang of it and was producing some very reasonable yarn, which pleased me.

We have borrowed a couple of more up-to-date books on ACOL which are proving fairly disastrous while we are in the process of adjusting our bidding system! So far Monday does not seem quite such a pleasant evening to play as Tuesday. It may be of course that most of the people are just much better than we are! But whether or no, a good many are rather patronising to the poor little ‘jumped-up Tuesday pair’ – and also a bit rude in that as you move to the next table they are quite likely to continue their post-mortem without so much as a nod of welcome.

X no doubt told you of our catch of fish – three was quite enough for me, and I decided that even if we had been staying I didn’t want to go fishing any more until I had discovered an infallible method of finishing them off, and taking the hooks out.

I’ve spent a good deal of time constructing a balsa wood plane from his grandfather: a grossly optimistic compliment to his nimbleness of mind and body! We did have the satisfaction of it flying in the end, although I must admit it was aerodynamically rather unpredictable, veering to the right and flying into the house on the first flight and zooming to the left and getting shredded in the fence on the second.

 

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My head of X is going slowly, I try to leave it for a day or two so I see the mistakes, this morning’s was rather major, the forehead has to be built up, and I’m not happy about the eyes. I suspect one is set further back than t’other… [later] I’m far too ‘stressed’ to use my new typewriter! I’ve been battling with my 4th attempt with X and everything that can go wrong has – I now have it caged in 4 or 5 layers of plaster of Paris with heavy iron bars set in back and front. I expect I’ll try the next stage, but I’m not hopeful of the result – maddening when I remember my first 3 which I made casts for on the kitchen table in between meals – I feel very old today!!

The National Management game is in full swing again. We’ve made our first two ‘decisions’. Did I tell you that X is on a girls’ team this year? Their business sense is non-existent, their maths worse but their industrial espionage has to be seen to be believed; why, one of them even married an opposing team member to extort information!

Art 2

They had two people exhibiting and several sold, but she admitted this week when I looked in that some of them had been pre-sold, hence the red stickers, it really does influence people, sheep ever!

sheep ever!

 

I’ve on the spur of the moment sent two abstracts to the Academy having said never again. It’s an arts & crafts plus plus and when I enquired if any paintings, particularly collage, were going to be hung was told ‘it’s a very grey area’!!! I put a few additions to ‘Before time’ to make it ‘within 18 months’! and sent ‘Before time II’.

We went to another art exhibition last Sunday – she was a vast woman and so were paintings, haphazard views with 20 cm eyes all over them. It is probably my ignorance, as X thought they were marvellous.

I sold 3 watercolours just before Christmas – 20% went to the new community hall and I was told the club was going to have another 15%. They obviously thought I was a lucky girl to get a cheque for $108 just before Xmas – I’ve just worked out the cost of materials, frames, glass, mounts etc. and my profit is $20 for the 3!!!  – but good for my morale.

Rather belatedly I’m trying to do my autumn tidy in the garden – THEN I’ll paint – I find it so difficult to get going – then don’t want to stop for meals etc.

Another part of our Monday expedition was a visit to an exhibition of Chinese crafts at the Art Gallery. There was some exquisitely done work e.g. in double-sided embroidery – some of it on very modern themes – pictures of oil-workers controlling the latest gusher or of new Tibetan doctors setting off home after training on the Chung-Ping-Pong hydroelectric and irrigation scheme – and so on. Apart from getting a little tired of the broad smile of Maoist victory embroidered on every face it really was lovely – and of course those 32 pierced ivory balls all inside one another one like an eighth wonder of the world. Those also had modern designs carved on the outside ball just in case we might think that they were the ancient work of wage-slaves oppressed by imperialistic face-grinding Mandarins of the pre-enlightenment.

Guess what! I’ve sold 2 watercolours – one of proteas and other flowers I’m particularly pleased about as a woman I know (but not well enough for her to be ‘nice’ to me!) bought it and she’s run a florist’s for years and is quite an authority on flowers.

I’ve been struggling with more watercolours and feeling v. despondent – I get no better.