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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
“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.”
“…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.”
“Enjoying being with the family but had forgotten how tiring making sand castles could be.”
“We were so lucky when we were young to know a different world. True we had the War aftermath and other things but not terrorism in our midst. It is scary trying to explain guards and police to young children.”
“We asked him if he was going to Las Vegas in the hopes of paying for the reception, but he came back quickly with ‘No, to buy a house’! I hope it was a joke!”
“She is a born comic. I felt really sore from laughing when I went to bed about an hour or so later. She’s a complete extravert. Her hair has grown about 1-2 inches since she had her 2mm cut, all over, apart from a long bit in front, and dyed red/auburn, and looks gorgeous.”
“[re some photos] I’m sure we’re the only ones on earth to have grandchildren who are a throw-back to crossing with a possum or straight from Mars!”
“X is more creative verbally, I think. Pumpkins-with-8-legs-who-steal-your-knickers are still in vogue, by the way. He wanted to spell it out with wooden letters one day. He found a 5 instead of an 8. We asked where the other 3 legs had gone – Grandpa decided a Brussel sprout had them – it’s a pity about this family!”
“I hope your parents are as well as age allows – it is hard to see loved ones fall apart.”
“I can appreciate how you miss your parents, I have had two husbands, but my mother meant more to me, and it is so natural to wish we had done better for them.”
“… I miss X a great deal – in a very strange way. And this year I have found more letters which she had written to me. I do not know why I kept them because I am not a ‘keeper’ at all. But of course I know that you must miss her in a very different way and that it cannot be easy for you. It all seemed to happen so suddenly. I think that she found it difficult to cope without X as she had always been dependent on him. And of course all the time she was seriously unwell – a matter she never mentioned and which I sort of forgot about I am ashamed to say.”
“We are going to have to try to talk to my father about selling his house, which won’t be a very pleasant task. He is permanently hospitalised…”
“Yes, I understand how you feel having lost both parents. I also have regrets of not appreciating them fully and of things left unsaid and undone which should have been expressed and put into practice. But that is life.” [And death!]
“Partner is getting old and a bit senile, but in a beautiful setting!”
“We’re kept pretty busy, partner endlessly repairing the house and me trying to keep the garden under control. We love the house, and so here we stay, despite the family thinking we should move to something more convenient. In fact they’ve given up, and we have more help, particularly in the garden.
“My vegetables are OK but the rest of the garden is a disaster. It’s a sort of vicious circle – I don’t put enough effort into it to make it look nice, so it’s unsatisfying, so I don’t put enough effort in! My latest effort is a rain forest crèche on the dining room window sill. I’ve potted up vast numbers of ‘Greenpeace’ native seeds I was given last Christmas. I have put them in a very expensive potting mix and watered them daily for weeks. They’ve not so much as stirred – ungrateful things!”
“Spring has arrived early and it is a delight to admire the pink flowers of the camellia tree and the yellow ones of the mimosa in the back garden.”
“I fear my first beans will fail despite covers as I had to put them out as the roots were too huge for their starting pots. Dear X upset a box of very expensive Alpine Strawberry seeds, but fortunately they have started to come up in parts, so I am still hopeful. Parsley in the airing cupboard – the first lot caught me out and shot up unexpectedly but I am on the watch for this. Far easier to buy but not so much fun.”
“…the spray for the various beetles didn’t quite do the trick so the result is some rather mucky looking raspberries but they puree all right with a little hard work removing bad bits and the ‘livestock’! They take a long time to pick but as there are so few nice ones the problem of going round giving them away does not arise so much.”
“Other things have come on too, so I have been able with great delight to pull up the last of the over-winter carrots and throw them away. It was getting quite a struggle to separate the eatable outside bit from their vast central rock-hard stem.”
“I have planted some broad beans which the pigeons are rapidly demolishing I think, and some potatoes got thrown in very casually one day. It is all rather half-hearted and vague but I enjoy trying to keep it comparatively tidy to the last. I shall have two tubs and a grow-bag on a patio I hope!! Alternatively of course it might be a bit of flannel and a packet of cress on the windowsill.”
“You are not allowed to laugh or grin, but I am trying to write a Mills and Boon-type historical romance. I have finished the first draft, and am having a rest for a few weeks so that I can go back to it with ‘fresh eyes’. The historical imprint is longer than some of the other imprints, and there tends to be more story (it is still a romance, though) and whether there is any, or how much, of the physical is up to the writer. [!]…My manuscript isn’t very long – only about 77,000 words – but it has been instructive writing it. I have enjoyed doing the research.”
“I love hearing from you and always have such a good laugh at all your stories. Have you thought of writing a book? Your command of the English language is very good and you express yourself so well. Go for it!!”
“The book died, I am afraid. I put together an assorted 45,000 words. Then, of course, during the summer, everything became very difficult. Two publishers said that, although it was not without interest to a limited readership (damning with faint praise), such books simply would not sell unless they had a minimum of 70,000 words. That either meant rewriting or padding out what I had written, or else thinking out new angles which might be of interest – and that would mean research, if I was to get the facts right, and, in all the circumstances I could not face up to it. Somebody, some day, might find it interesting, but I fear that the hour is past.”
“I find that just getting my book published is all I care about. Vanity and not money is my main motivation.”
“I’ve finished typing out as a book the stories I used to tell to families there because a few of the people go on asking when I am going to publish them. It is however noticeable that none of the children have asked the same thing, so probably the book will never get accepted.”