Aging (2)

I had an airmail … it was from X saying Y is staying with her – and said she looked like someone from Belsen when she arrived – she broke her femur some months ago and hadn’t been looking after herself. I think X expects to keep her there which would be the best. Y added a happy note at the end saying how well she was and being spoilt – X has 3 Alsatians and endless cats.

You never mention X – did he ever chat to Y, or is he away with the fairies – v. sad – he was such a good looking man. One thing about Z [home town], we’re all running down and make the same silly mistakes and get more and more ga-ga!

I can just imagine how X would haver about the composition and the exposure and everything else. Just as well it would be still life he was taking – but, as you say, not really endurable for you. How on earth anybody could fall asleep in the middle of making sandwiches I can’t imagine, (and I am getting very good at it listening to the news, reading the paper or even playing Bridge).

asleep in the kitchen

 

Sorry not to have written for so long. I was going through a very hard time. … I spent two weeks in X’s flat and this set me up for the last lap looking after Y. I had caregivers while I was away. He seemed much the same when I got back so I did not think he would go to the Lord so quickly.

The man next door is struggling, but X his wife – who has a raucous voice was telling me on the phone, how it was like training a child and he would wipe his nose on his sleeve and she’d correct him and he’d do it again 2 minutes later. I said I hoped he couldn’t hear her – but she assured me she was in the next room!

Poor dear is losing her sight and has sudden fainting fits so has to stop driving – the Drs say if only she’d have one whilst with them they could diagnose the cause – another friend had the same trouble and did have a ‘turn’ at the clinic and is now on her third ‘pacer’ and driving again too.

I still find it hard to accept that everyone is so aged and white hair and remember that’s just like me – sad!!

Had a bit of a disastrous year so far. Started off with my spectacularly unsuccessful right knee replacement op in March – still hobbling about and loads of pain. X had a massive heart attack in September just 3 days before we were due to go go away. Life is now a hectic round of doctors’ and hospital visits but we intend to get back on the holiday treadmill in earnest next year.

I discovered I am diabetic, what a surprise – but looking back I think Mum had it, though untreated, and she lived to 90.

I find now, 73, I am definitely slowing down.

My sister-in-law managed to sell the farm and has bought a house in the suburbs but pulling it apart bit by bit and re-vamping. At her age I can’t see the point in all the improvements – we all seem to think we will live forever!!

Ill-judged comments

[The letter contained] a very unfeeling comment about X’s g-dad who was run over and killed. I hope she didn’t make the same comment to the parents!

She manages to speak much better than we had thought possible and I am sure when it is all done we shall very soon get used to a slightly different look. X [young grand-daughter] is being rather dubious and hasn’t gone to see her yet. A good thing, as being stared at is a bit unnerving for her and they are a family who make very very candid comments about one’s appearance anyhow!!

X seems to have settled down well in her job, and heard the other day from the woman at the agency that her boss had said that it was working out well – this in spite of having missed the post one evening with some urgent stuff and then told the boss that might not have happened if he had told her to begin with exactly when it was wanted instead of having answered her enquiry ‘Yesterday’ – which is certainly far from illuminating.

[X is a child that the writer is helping as a volunteer] I had spent a little time working out a poem with one OUGHT word in each line in a context which I hoped would help. I put this in front of him and asked him to read it, to which he replied ‘Have I got to?’ If he had said ‘It looks difficult’ or something of that sort I might have just agreed with him – but as it was I felt very annoyed and said with some heat ‘No you haven’t got to: you can go out in the garden and never read again as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll go home’ – at which not surprisingly he looked a bit startled.

X writes to her – I’ve opted out. A letter she sent (as her father said she had to) saying she didn’t ‘mean to hurt me’ is not enough to right the incredibly rude letter she sent. I very likely use phrases she misunderstands – as I her – so we’re safer not corresponding.

We went to see X’s watercolours first, which were in a touristy gallery on the Front with, it must be admitted, a range of quality in the goods! Anyone within earshot would have been in no doubt, that’s for sure!

at the gallery

 

The other thing of interest is I now have a close friend of 78, from the old church, but he had left the church 4 months ago because his sister-in-law spread rumours about us that reached his 5 children – like he was sleeping over and I had killed 2 husbands!

Pastimes

It’s been a week of trying to catch up on nearly 20 years of NZ stamps – I just can’t throw them out without sorting them all first – so I’ve done 10 years and 10 to go, and then the English ones. I fear there isn’t a rarity there – but I’ve got quite fascinated with them and their peculiarities.

I don’t know if X showed her ‘heirloom’ cot quilt to you? We all thought it lovely but Y had another which passed down to all the kids so it never got used. However I think it won a 1st place in the WI competition for which it was first produced.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll go on the Morris w/e to dance the sun up at the equinox in 2 weeks!

I’ve joined Toast Masters! Lots of fun but a terrible time of day – 7.00 a.m. I did 2 table topics – which are 1.5 minutes totally impromptu speeches. I did my first proper speech on Thursday – it went fairly well I think. I had to talk about me – the standard first topic as people don’t have trouble with that topic for 5-6 mins!

Well – I’ve had to videotape this b. show three times! The first time the microphone was turned off. I looked at the switch under the lighting room desk light and it looked as though it had a green + red square so I set it to green. In fact it was black with miniscule word OFF and red is on.

They had wonderful demonstrations outside including a chap with a pole-lathe. I’d never seen one before and it’s truly wonderful. There was also a chap doing potting and giving free lessons so I had a go and made a passable pot and he said I had a natural aptitude which was nice!

I did ask for a drawing of your bedroom and where your bed is – after my friend moved her bed and moved the TV she’s a new woman – and I’ve moved mine into the only corner that doesn’t have water under it, only to find the magnetic rays of the TV went through 2 walls into my bed – even when off – until we switched it off at the wall – the result is super – and X is better I’m sure. I hope his voice is getting stronger – so he suffered having his bed up against the wardrobe so he has to climb on the bed if he wants to get anything out!

I’ve taken up beading at the church’s craft classes – I do crochet wire necklaces so the beads are a bit higgledy-piggledy, and I expect I shall take up painting again soon.

He’s had to give up riding his bike, hiking, rock climbing, any sports he was doing etc. etc. … so now he is taking up canoeing and has had a try of archery – he shot an arrow down the ventilation shaft! oops. I’m not sure how far it was from the target!

I visit a lady for hospice, and go to Bridge at the 1820 Settlers Club on Monday morning. I am on the list to join the art there too. I felt I needed some non-church contacts – after all the people in Church are already born again! I quite enjoy it 10-16 people moving around, not set partners. I still hope God is going to use me in some kind of counselling ministry so I am tying to prepare for that.

I’ve got some canvas, brushes and paint but find it diffcult somehow to start. Oh well, maybe later. Work can get pretty tiring, so I’m not really in painting mode when I get home, and weekends can be quite busy sometimes, but they’re more likely.

The beetroots and the lettuces are growing fine in my vegetable plot of 2 x 2 metres. It is fun at present to chase the snails… I know all their hiding places.

chasing snails

 

Still taking some drawing lessons. Yesterday, we worked on hands. I must sometime find the ‘guts’ to take a canvas and let my right side of the brain work miracles! Is it possible at my age?!!!

 

Good excuses

Sorry I haven’t written more recently (and I haven’t got any decent excuses either – but I could make some up…)            ‘Oh, that’s right – I did write three times actually, but the first time a bus splashed muddy water all over it, the second time X thought it was a piece of toast and peanut-buttered it, and the third time it was in my bag when it was stolen. After that, I was just loaded down with 400 hrs of work every week’          !!

It isn’t that I have forgotten about you – it’s just that usually in the evenings, as soon as I hit the chair to relax and write letters, I fall asleep!

Much blushes – I THOUGHT I’d given this to one of the kids to post – but I know what thought did!

I hope you don’t get the same Christmas card as last year. I have to confess I have rounded up all my odd unused cards from previous years’ boxes. (I say unused, as I have some friends who have a standing family joke about their mother – a lovely lady, who habitually recycles cards by cutting off the piece which is written on!) In the interests of Economy and Not Being Wasteful, I am Using Them All Up. Therefore I do apologise if it looks familiar. The greeting will be the same, too: may you have a happy and solvent year ahead.

Sorry about the envelope – it just happens to be at hand in the warm room!

re-using an envelope

Keeping fit

I ALSO have good intentions to exercise and I have been on leave and intending to take a walk EVERY day. Well, I think it happened once only. I ALWAYS find an excuse. It is either TOO windy or TOO hot or TOO cold or raining…

Will endeavour to walk a lot and eat less to try and get rid of some extra lbs before we go home next Tuesday. I weighed myself on X’s scales – I fear she’s been kidding herself. I was 1/2 stone less than when I left home and my skirt waists tell me that’s not true!

On the phone she told me she’d joined a genocide class. I felt it didn’t sound quite right, and after she’d hung up I asked X and at the same time remembered what it meant and realised she must have said Jazzocide!!!

 

they’re laughing at me

Because of limited finance I have not been able to take up my dance lessons again. I have been running a bit to try to keep fit, although I find running rather dreary and I don’t go for far anyway. This morning I was running through the small park at the end of the street feeling rather cold as there was a frost, my legs being a nice complementary red against my green shorts, when two kookaburras started up their laugh. It is such a mocking noise which was quite appropriate under the circumstances. I think that all my little jog does for me is get me out of bed early!

For exercise I have joined a ballet class. I go every Monday evening. It is quite a serious one so I am keeping very fit. Swimming has been more difficult as there are not many heated pools. Apparently the outdoor pools do warm up in summer, but I am yet to be convinced.

Children (2)

X as awkward as ever. I fear he dreads coming into our house, and there’s a free fight even getting him out of the car – really most shaming for us. I don’t know what started it all off – no, I haven’t spanked him or even shouted at him once!!!

unwilling visitor

 I’d love to know about all the other misdoings at her school her daughter got up to, do tell me more.

X is a real delight – gets handed round like a parcel and beams on everyone. She could only go backwards then – and was trying to pull her leg up by holding her clothes – but a few days after she was off – so now the gate has to be locked by the stairs.

X has been elected form captain which was v. good for her morale – I have a suspicion that she’ll be unbearable – in the nicest possible way!!

She’s having a rough ride at work. I don’t think she’d realised how completely unstructured the school is. If her little dears (8 year olds) get bored or cross they go walk-about and come back when they feel like it. Also several of them can’t read…

I asked X (re that couple) about babies a while ago and she made it sound not to be mentioned.

The children fell upon her as though they had suffered tortures during the fortnight (when grandmother and great-aunt were in charge), but needless to say they had been well and truly spoilt really and got away with a lot of minor sins without reprimand – and with a great deal of demanding favourite food and more ice-cream etc. that no doubt mum would have dealt with much more severely than grandmother did – although even she rebelled when the youngest tried to get away with putting golden syrup on a chocolate wheaten biscuit! Ladling it on to a scone was one thing and licking the spoon with a ladleful of treacle in it just passable, but the idea of it on expensive choc bics was too much!!

Gardening

I have decided on Going Native, and all of the native garden plant books use only botanical names. Common names exist as an appendix at the back. Some of the common names are quite fascinating. Who wouldn’t want a Running Postman (do these occur in Europe?), or a Wonga Vine or a Twiggy Wili-Wili, or a Geebung? … I have discovered that, really, the list for small to tall shrubs of slender habit which will grow in heavy clay, in a Mediterranean climate, in either full or part hot shade, with flowers of either red or white, and are not rampant growers, or drain cloggers, or branch droppers, is quite small. Makes things so much simpler.

Did I tell you the sheep got into my vegs and scoffed the lot – the day we went into X for the wedding. Now a fortnight later things are not so bad – carrots etc. have grown new tops – but the runner beans seem unlikely to come to anything.

I was amazed at the variety I got from the garden. Picked forget-me-nots, yellow freesias, forsythia, winter jasmine, whitebells (no blue ones out yet) and grape hyacinths and one pale pink winter rose. My lily of the valley is about to come out and has really established itself in the rose bed. The widened path looks far less mean – I told the second brickie that I didn’t like having to walk in single file and he promptly put his arm round my shoulders and said, ‘You like to be nice and friendly?’ Last year’s anemones have come out at last too which add a good splash of colour. I’ve just put in my second lot of sweet peas – v. late. Did I tell you I fell for a rhododendron too – pale yellow, and a daphne – but have been careful to leave gaps for some dahlias next month. I’ve dug up the acanthus and put it in a vast and expensive pot at the end of our paving and will move the hibiscus to a bed so X won’t have to mow round it. Our puriri tree is out and we’ve got two visiting bush pigeons.

I put far too many noisy cinerarias in the rose bed and had to move them to a bare place instead, beautiful colours but very strong.

noisy cinerarias

 

Hellybellys coming up in a nasty bit of ground, which is clever of them and I hope I can encourage them to grow on and survive. Sorry I can’t think of their official name at the moment but you gave me the seeds and they do begin ‘hel’ something or other.

The various bushes look wonderful – especially the one outside the bathroom window and the little one near the gate! Very shape-full and pleasing to the eye. I still haven’t done the last bit of sickling to remove the rest of the long grass patches but there are fewer weeds than there were and the strawberries have been re-organised and set out ready for next year.

I’m growing my own wheat – guess what! More in my next.

I have a fantastic pumpkin plant which sowed itself in a strip allocated to cauliflowers and has now spread in a sort of L-shape about fifteen feet in each direction, threatening to engulf altogether most of my parsnips, carrots and sweet corn, as well as the poor cauliflowers (which weren’t coming to much anyway – they are the most difficult things to grow satisfactorily). The celery has rust, but we can eat bits of it… and my beefsteak tomatoes have blight – but there again, parts of them are excellent as the curate’s egg. The apples are far more afflicted with codling moth than last year… The strawberries are over, the sweet corn looks splendid, and the leeks have done better than usual for me. My main onion crop consists of only about two dozen, but some of them are four inches across… The grapes look good too… I planted three zucchini-type marrows but we didn’t get many zucchinis off them – they grew so fast! Eventually I carted four of them up to fourteen inches long off to church to go in the charity box, and dug up the plants which were covered in a revolting grey mildew by then.