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.

Strong opinions

I find it hard to share a country with X, more especially when he is the Prime Minister and I am not. I think he has been so inept, and so loudmouthed …[too libellous to repeat!] Comes of being so small physically, perhaps? – in height, at least. He’s not all that small roundways.

Don’t want you large

 

 

I really don’t know if the child will ever survive because she only ever gave it half its feed because she told me she didn’t like large children!

 

 

The first I heard of it was when X phoned me at work and asked me to pop in – said in that voice that implies there’s no hurry as long as you are here yesterday as I have something to say to you.

You are better off as you are so long as you remember who you are.

I’m sure I was telling you once before how involved I’ve become in the whole women’s thing over the last three years. Ever since I read The Female Eunuch in fact, and I have just continued from there, reading a lot of stuff by and about women, getting a very good sense of being a woman, but realising continually how many stereotypes and roles have to be broken down.

If you can locate them ask her if she has had our letters and what’s happening – there’s no use beating about the bush or she’ll push it all in her pending tray again – she’s madly disorganised.

I laughed and laughed and then felt extremely irritated with X’s letter, as you say, a poor attempt at doing her mother! Remember you can be pretty good at a ‘put-down’ too!

Do you know we still haven’t heard about the finalising of X’s estate – I strongly believe the solicitor has put it on a horse.

Well, I hope never to see another day like this! It’s alright, no disasters but the next 5th Sunday in February is due in 2004, and I don’t really fancy remaining in ‘the miseries of this sinful world’ (quote from burial services) to the age of 92.

I’ve just finished reading X’s copy of Papillon – violent, crude and horrifying it may be but a fascinating and sensitive story – I’m not so revolted as X was.

Dowsing 2

Now she’s on this dowsing lark – she’s got expensive meters and taking a course – I can only use a map or twig – not so convincing!!

 

Evidently the diver has several wrecks he wants to follow up and first is going to employ people to use machines to try and ensure which hold gold. I’ve just been trying my hand with gold here (X obligingly had 2 objects) and it worked both by walking over it and on a plan of the room with a piece hidden by her – so if we’re nearby I think I’ll suggest I’d be much cheaper!!!

 

Looking conservative for the AGM

As I’ve despaired of getting through to any of the oil companies I’m on a new play. I’m backing myself! I’ve bought a modest 700 in the company before they start drilling (when all the shares go up) and 2 days later went to their AGM. Present: chairman, 32 directors, 2 pressmen, 2 other shareholders (male of course) and me!!! I dressed in a v. conservative and elegant manner – pearls, gloves, the lot – and asked questions about a concession they said they had in their report and which my map said another company had (apparently they share it – but not according to my records). I asked if they could tell me the exact location of the drill they hope to make in March – but was rather there, there, little woman’d – ‘We leave that to the geologists’. I didn’t say any more as I could see dubious headlines about black magic, but made my number with one of the directors and said I’d write.

 

I thought to myself why can’t he find which wreck has gold on board before he goes to the expense of getting special electrical equipment etc. so I called on their house. He clutched his brow when I mentioned dowsing, as evidently a woman had commissioned him to try and retrieve the gold from a boat which was sunk in 1809 on the result of her having dowsed for it, and had a go at digging it up herself, and not surprisingly gave up after 3 ft. He actually got down to 24 ft and struck wood, which he says was hopeful as all round was rock, but couldn’t get his digger to go any further. He was all for giving me her plan and for me to write to her if I found anything too. I thought this was a bit cheaty, but took particulars of where he said he’d dug, and indeed, on the spot, map-dowsed on her rough drawing. (You’d have giggled, I used a cotton reel with black cotton and a gold cufflink of his and her wedding ring!!)   I firmly announced she was north of the actual gold, in a manner that convinced even me.

Evidently a black African wrote to him saying he could find gold, and he’d told him not to come, but come/go he did. So the diver had hidden several paper bags in the sand (in case someone was watching and could tell the man) and one had gold in it. The man full of confidence went forth using his hands only and walked straight towards the right one, but unfortunately also walked right over it! So the whole trip was a dead loss, I think one chance unfair, too much depends on it and the poor man must have been in a state.

Significant other – 3

 Did I tell you the sad news of the Xs? Long letter her saying he had taken a year’s sabbatical from her?! and had produced a legal document to say he could live as a single man for a year – now I’ve heard everything! There was a terrific shindy with the tax dept – and it came out that their accountant just hadn’t been sending in all the figures and none at all for one year. It ended up with him having to pay $1,000,000 in back payments and fines – and by mortgaging houses and using money he’d ‘kept fluid ’ was able to pay up – but once in the clear he removed his entire studio and gallery to another State and left her to look after their 4 houses and keep an eye on the family.

She can do nothing right – she’s busy trying to organise a tour of Europe next year – with him and X in a hired caravan. My heart sinks at the idea – 3 months – horrors!

I asked if she still saw X and she said no, he didn’t like her lawyer – but she did – she’d obviously had a big settlement in her favour over the divorce!! Sad he does not seem to enjoy things much.

News of X’s marriage sounds v. odd, do you know what he’s like? I don’t envy him, their house will be in chaos.

living in chaos

X’s hasty wedding was a bit odd too – what does he do workwise – one O Level and looking after chickens is not full of hope for the upkeep of his new wife.

I thought I’d offer X something on time this Xmas and offered her a duvet but she says Y likes a heavy weight on him. I suppose I could give him a length of rope and a block of concrete!

The boyfriend is large and basic (who looks very nice to give him his due) with little education. She says if they were to marry and have a family she wouldn’t mind his looking after the babies and house, as she certainly wasn’t going to stay and look after them. She got quite irate with me when I said I couldn’t imagine his doing it as his friends would think it such a joke – she said couldn’t I see her understanding of it, and I must realise things were different nowadays, and so on – I understood exactly what she meant but didn’t agree with her!

One of our bridge 4 is failing visibly all the time and has difficulty speaking clearly (Parkinson’s) so her husband won’t talk to her and has taken over the kitchen to the extent he’s had it all redone to his choice of everything whilst she was put in a home with a retired nurse. It’s not a happy set up, with the added difficulty of a friend of theirs who’s practically an accepted 3rd in the house and does all the things with him that she can no longer do – walking, swimming – and we’re not sure what else!

He’s 23, fairly big, got curly hair and big curly sideboards and a bit of an extravert.

My changing room environment was emotionally taxing as there were 4 of us – the other three single, but one had just split up with a boyfriend of 2 1/2 years and the other two were involved with married men, one of them with lots of strife.

Let me give you a little word of advice: don’t marry someone you’ve only known for a few months!

The thing we can’t understand is why X thinks he is so marvellous. When she told me that he had aged 5 years in the past 2 weeks the other day, my cynical thought was ‘that makes him 15’ but I didn’t say that cos I didn’t feel it would help.

The marriage day was all perfection. The garden glowed with flowers, the sun burst out of the blue sky – X and I stood up by the altar table – behind us was an arbour we’d made and covered with a fish net with flowers and ferns twined in it. In front of us the people (about 40) sat in a semi-circle of benches we’d made out of driftwood from the beach. X had written the liturgy, and as well there were poems – Fernhill by Dylan Thomas, and I read one by Yevtushenku called Colours – and guitar and dulcimer music. I was bursting with excitement and joy. Everyone was smiling and serious at the same time.

I won’t have told you I had a ‘Dear John’ letter from X in October. I was very sad, and really it wasn’t as bad as all that. It is difficult to keep up a romance when people are 7000 miles apart. He met someone else, and it was only a matter of time before I would have been writing the same sort of letter as on Oct. 10 I fell somewhat for a 6’2” hunk of superb Canadian manhood. Absolutely terrific guy.

Pranks

Do you recall that teacher at X who got into big trouble because one weekend he had hopped on a bulldozer at the quarry and had run over a worker’s car before he found out how to stop it? Oh – it’s not like it was in the old days.

The big excitement this week was shooting a wild pig! We were having breakfast on Thursday, when the sheep suddenly started bunching up in the paddock with the beehives in – and the next thing we saw was a large black back-end of a pig going down between the wire and the cypress trees on the other side of the drive, in our river paddock. I rushed to ring X [the neighbour] but there was no answer – so I got my rifle and went out to have a look – determined not to venture beyond the fence. By that time the biggest of X’s dogs which is the ‘holding dog’ had appeared and had the pig by the nose. I waited my chance and got in a sideways shot – which I was frightened had hit the dog, as it came dancing round at that moment! The pig stood there head on, and the dog retired to a discreet distance! and the next shot in its head killed it. It was a very big one – X subsequently reckoned about 150 lbs, and seemed quite worried that it might have charged and come straight through the garden fence. Where ignorance is bliss! The sad thing is that my dreams of being set up in nice pork joints for a bit were dashed. X says it was too old and would taste too strong to be nice – so it will be his dogs and maybe ours who get the benefit. ‘If you were a drinking man,’ he said, ‘you could have had a drink or two on that tonight.’ I went to my bible study as usual!

A bit like the poor bloke at school who was playing the fool jumping from bath to bath and missed the last edge and landed in the bottom taking the base with him to the floor. He did look silly standing on the floor with bits of bath (and water) all around him.

Oh dear!

I had a long letter from X the au pair a while ago. She sent pictures of her family, a girl the age she was when she came to us, 20. She says ‘She is now getting 20, and after she has been playing the mad during her teenage years, we have hopes she will slowly settle down and become reasonable.’ I suspect she forgets she was ‘playing the mad’ when in England, and I’d know.

Nuisances of life 2

A woman had run her car into the side of X’s the day before and had really upset him – especially as it was just after he’d left Y sitting down while he collected the car from parking place – and not only lost her but the car too! and they finished up being driven round in a police car.

The owners will spend only the barest minimum in upkeep. We’re still waiting to have a leaky loo and roof fixed, to say nothing of the bathroom and kitchen redecorating. There isn’t one window ledge that hasn’t got paint flaking off – two grow moss! and the wallpaper is about 12 years old – and looks it. The carpet is worn down to the felt in a number of places and the previous tenants not only smoked very heavily, but apparently kept various animals locked inside all day while they worked…

[Re irritating habits of the public touching display of painted silk goods] I forgot to tell you about a card with a piece of similar weaving with ‘Feeling swatch’ written on it! Would this keep your customers’ grimy hands off?!

At least I managed to find a couple of books and a pleasant card for X’s birthday – though at the moment most of our ferries are carrying the same cargo backwards and forwards several times across Cook Strait because the shunters at Picton are not working overtime in protest at a new roster, and the Union refuse to fill the place of any man who is absent for any reason, and then the whole gang say they can’t safely unload any wagons! Anyway the card went by air.

My new pullets were no sooner given the freedom of the field than they wormed their way through the hedge in order to grub about under the blackberry and other scrub on my neighbour’s side. What’s more, though five of them returned for the night, the sixth insisted on roosting in an inaccessible bush – so that if it started laying I certainly wasn’t going to get the eggs.

Making a run for it

I don’t know why, but all my greens have come to nothing, and though we got beans they never really recovered from the sheep’s attack. There are lots of tomatoes, but I doubt whether most of them will ripen now and quite a number are infested with caterpillars that make large holes in them – though whether to go in or to come out I haven’t discovered and it is a matter of some importance!

Children 3

X gave a fulsome introduction to the man proposing Y’s health which went v. well and Y much affected replied. He’s the most modest boy. [Grandmother] said how well all the boys had grown up and [mother] was a wonderful mother and had made such a good job of them – no mention of [her son, the father]!

X was despondent with her daughter who went into her teens by dyeing her hair pink and had a nose ring and was threatened with being expelled. X says she’s got old rather sooner than she’d expected!

the teenager

 

Isn’t it fun X [grandchild] being a mouse in the ballet? Evidently all went well.

Well, I eventually wrote to X [‘grown-up’ grandchild] with a copy of my letter that had made her cross, and she coloured in all the bits she didn’t like and answered by number … So I replied in kind and trust we’re not now cut off. Her affectionate ending didn’t really make up for verging on being impertinent, but I did say I thought that was because she needed a dictionary. [And in a later letter] The fracas got quite out of hand ending with a venomous letter. I’ve now burnt the file, but it simmers inside me.

The man talked to me and seemed pleasant and said they hadn’t expected to have their son with them, and be free to do their own thing. The son was a v. large 30-ish man with big black beard and dressed in black leather all over. Later I was talking to him; he was ready to answer any remark but didn’t initiate anything. When I asked if he had any friends near he said most of them were in X, and I didn’t click until I got home his father had said, ‘He has problems’… I went over and asked our ex-neighbour if she knew anything I didn’t and told her of the remarks made, and she was very shirty with me, and said she couldn’t possibly ask them what he went to the hospital for, which wasn’t what I’d asked her. Only as I was walking out of the door said, ‘I only know he’s schizophrenic.’ I called over to say hello yesterday. The father looked pretty downcast. Poor dears, anything like that is so much worse than our tribulations, and we’ve had more than our fair share, I think.

We arrived with them before dark so had some time with the boys too – rescued the little one having a ball with large pot of Vaseline from bathroom cupboard.

I took them to the rec – walked – and that was marvellous. X was a bit indignant when I had to help him down the ‘fireman’s pole’ – but suffered me to help him onto it as his arms are too short!!!

Significant other (2)

Finally: good luck to X’s new hubby – I think if I saw her again I’d probably bite her!

She sure has woken him up and made him more amusing and human. I hope X reckoned that perhaps she [2nd wife] was a good substitute for young Y – although of course still sticking to her opinion that Y was badly done by!

X and I, at last, managed to agree on how we’ll split the remainder of the matrimonial property which will take place at the end of January when the lawyers get back from holidays at our expense!

Our neighbour who has the stroke victim husband is off to Canada for 2 or 3 weeks and putting him in the home at the end of our road – she does this every few months – which is very wise of her – can’t think how everyone seems to afford these things except us – which is silly as we could really – but feel guilty about it!

Did I tell you I heard from X: her sister who tried to kill herself – down a flight of stairs when her fiance decided he’d go into a monastery instead – died in the ‘home’ X put her in – what an awful 8 years of wasted life – I hope the man knows the consequence of his action.

V. sad: one of her daughters-in-law suddenly committed suicide just before Xmas – teenage children – husband left her.

One of the nicest of the group said she’d decided she didn’t like men – she’d just had a brief letter from someone she dotes on – middle 50s – saying he’d left his wife as he’d met another woman he wanted to live with.

We have not opened the tea garden yet as we were in such a bad marriage state – very close to separation. Then we were persuaded to attend a course ‘Curse to Blessings’. [That’s what it looks like which seems surprising!] Well – we are just amazed at the change that has come over us. We are on honeymoon. We are enjoying this state till 4th March I think when we shall open. … We have found that we can actually work together now without even arguing and are due to go to the Anointed Marriage course at the end of the month. And I take X to the Curse to Blessings in about 3 weeks. We are relieved her boyfriend did not get a job here …

I was talking to a friend who said her husband’s ex-wife regarded her as the woman who stole her husband and they didn’t even meet until 7 years after the first wife left him. The human mind is an extraordinary thing.

We found a fish and chip shop directly across the road which provided an admirable lunch which we could eat in the firm’s lunch room while he relayed to me the story of his war, in various engineering jobs, and some of his subsequent career and marital troubles (which had been somewhat mixed up).

Evidently her mother told all 3 girls they should know getting married wasn’t the only way to go, and only X got married very young against their advice and was deserted after 3 children. I can’t altogether blame their mother for her view as her father left her mother and lived with someone else before they got together again.

She and her husband separated for quite a while; he spent every penny he had (and every penny she had) on cars, and was not the perfect husband.

Every time he opened his mouth, she told him he was being boring and ‘nobody was interested in that’ and he was snapping back, and being generally disgruntled.

I do wonder who X has married – Y said she replied to the speech as her new husband is very shy – and mad to marry her!!!

He’s so foul in the morning he goes to work without breakfast and phones her up about 9.30 and they talk for ages. But how this would fit into a caravan I can’t think.

Evidently he’s a new man since the break-up of their marriage – lost weight, given up smoking, and is very cheerful.

the new man

I’m pretty amazed they made their 25th too – a few years ago I think it was touch and go.

We had a huge montage of them climbing sheer cliffs and one of him kayaking down a narrow bluff which had seething water … I trust she won’t be a widow too young.

X has really done wonders with her minute flat – it looks hovelish outside but perfectly okay for one person – she keeps bringing things from the house [ex home] some of which he has different views on whether they are ‘hers, his or theirs’. It’s not going to be easy.

Life’s surprises

I had a weird birthday, felt very depressed in the morning as I got a parking ticket and ‘cos my mother-in-law rang to wish me a ‘pleasant’ birthday. (A word she NEVER uses, we’ve had a disagreement and said word was equal to sh**!) Then at lunch I met two good friends who I haven’t seen for 1 and 3 years, quite by chance, which was lovely; then my car was towed away. Then I had a lovely evening after retrieving the car. What a day of extremes.

[Child of 7] ‘Stick ’em up, Mummy… Come to think of it, I don’t know what I’d do with a dead Mummy.’

As far as your dream about me driving a coach into a lake goes – something odd’s going on! Another of my friends had a dream in which I pushed lots of people into a swimming pool recently! Deep meaning??

driving the coach into a lake

I think God is telling me He wants another home on this property and used to help families trying to get their lives sorted out God’s way. If I am hearing right, He will supply the money for this. Life has been rather exciting with God in spite of all problems.

I expect I’ll just be on the basic salary scale for a primary teacher with a degree, but apparently some previous jobs entitle one to more, but, here’s the catch, they don’t tell you what those jobs are!

X has developed an extremely weird spiritual belief package that incorporates Christianity, Ancient Egyptian beliefs and New Age ideas. I had a chat with him the other day and he was talking about spirit guides and things. One sentence was along the lines of ‘Jesus and Anubis are two of my spirit guides’ – enough to curl the toes of all three groups I should think!!

He rang me the evening of the funeral and said how pleased he was that they had gone, so everybody felt they had done the right thing… I should think they stayed for a meal and then drove on home as he didn’t ring me until after ten, when I was half asleep and thoroughly uncomposed – or is it decomposed?! – as hadn’t got all my teeth in and was lisping badly!!

I wrote an article… a phone call came in the middle of the night from some bloke in Ireland who wanted my address which X cheerfully dished out! A week later came a letter from a consultant in Ireland congratulating me on my excellent article. Some distant relative had sent him a copy and he’s sent it to some bigwig in America!

 

House repairs & housekeeping

I was delighted to hear that your dry rot (caused by wetness) was really only wet rot (caused by intermittent dryness as well as wetness) – because the former really is bad news whereas wet rot, as I understand it, is not ‘malignant’, and can be cured reasonably easily provided they can find the source of the wet.

I have now engaged with X to come and build us a new fence along the bottom boundary, which will involve removal of the present compost enclosure. … So I must pull down the remains of the aviary, and remove most of the plants from that border for safekeeping until he has finished. Not, of course, that he is likely to start when he says – he never manages that – but just in case he’s nearly on time, we must be ready.

I’m glad the wood worm treatment is over, though perhaps even now not seeming quite a thing of the past. I was surprised they demanded as long as six weeks before you could cover it – but let’s hope that by then you will have been able to get the other jobs done which are essential… I am enclosing a bank draft as our contribution to getting your flat as you would like it. All these little men must be costing you a lot of money.

all these little men

Our building is all go now. The frame is up and the roof and weatherboards go on next week. The concrete block wall would probably withstand an explosion – it’s SOLID. We’re managing to afford a new kitchen while we’re about it… We’ll have a new wall oven and gas hob (our stove’s being decidedly temperamental – I think the thermostat’s broken!) We also have to have a new water heater… All this fits into the amount we’ve borrowed – on paper at least!

We’ve also bought an extractor fan for the stove hood. It’s not as strong as previous ones we’ve had and makes a bit of noise, but it does seem to get rid of the smells and steam, and we don’t need to have it on when we’re in there.

We have been having much attention given to our telephone. It went out of action a few weeks ago and we complained – and had a van here all day with a pleasant young man who seemed thoroughly confused at our wiring system (between our three phones and one outside bell) and eventually rigged a temporary wire over the top of the house as part of trying to reduce the buzzing in our ears. It didn’t do much for us. Then last week two men in a van turned up, and again stayed most of the day, plus a supervisor in a car for half an hour, and another van. They traced the whole thing, and went round muttering things like ‘the yellow is crossed with the blue’ and ‘there’s a groundswell on the red’ – and gave us another new line under the house instead of the one over the roof. They worked very hard even though it was raining most of the day – and eventually went away triumphant.

The friendly plumber came and estimated for a new basin. I inherited a cracked one where the old girl’s husband had had a seizure or something and dropped a heavy bottle from a short height into the basin. The nice plumber said cheerfully ‘Claim on insurance – they aren’t to know you didn’t do it’ which seems sensible but immoral! The roof man suggested the same so I see I have been missing out all these years on something everybody else does – no wonder the rates per year are so high now.

X has replaced the supply of drinking water we keep, last done 3 years ago, and I found my dried milk to be the same 3 years out of date.

He helped do a massive clear-up in the front garden and we packed the green bin to overflowing. I also collected oddments I wanted to get rid of to put outside the gate and almost all were taken – it’s a good idea: you’re invited to help yourself to anything you’d like and a van collects the rest. ‘They’ call it trash.

Our TV which we’d been saying was so good suddenly packed up and our nice repairman said a new ??? [part] would cost over $100. So we decided to do it now before the old one cost any more. That took all the morning – I’d phoned round getting prices so was able to knock them down $60 – X just can’t do it – I have no qualms – they obviously won’t lose on the deal.

I have been lucky through the coldest nights (so far) and haven’t frozen up – apart from one outlet from the bath which was my own fault as I knew the taps dripped and I forgot to jam the plug in securely after my bath. Fortunately I was able to face the damned snow and unstoppered it with a boiling kettle and a little wangling of the icicle that had formed (despite the protective bag of bracken put over the drain which was supposed to prevent the frost getting through!)