Employment hassles 2

She’s having to get as much work as possible and has taken on part-time typing jobs which is well paid and has 2 full weeks in January which will be a big help – as they still have 2 cars – and some capital she doesn’t want to touch – I don’t want to help financially – indeed she refused but I do hope he gets something soon – it’s so bad for his morale.

I don’t know if X has told you the latest saga of his job – it seems to be driving him to absolute distraction. All he has to do is see that the people who see that the men do their work properly, do their work properly (?!! if you see what I mean!) He’s not allowed to make suggestions, cos that lays the department open to responsibility, unless through the proper channels – about 3 weeks, 10 bods and forms in quintuplet.

We have had literally nothing to do here in weeks. Organised the odd social function for the staff, drawn posters and sold tickets, very little personnelling though! They say it will hot up a bit in Feb. but that is such a long way off, and I am absolutely BORED. And you can imagine what idle hands can get up to. Actually, all I do is roll into work hours late, or skip off early and take long lunch times. My boss is just a voice at the end of the phone. He comes in occasionally to sign the odd letter, but most of them I do anyway as I can’t leave these things weeks at a time. He went to Europe in Sept./Oct. on a recruiting campaign, spending 5 weeks in Switzerland and England, leaving me holding the child. Enjoyed that, as I was ‘i.c.’ as it were, not that there was much to be in charge of!! He goes off again at the end of January to do the same thing in the schools and universities across Canada, so again muggins takes the can. And there are so many extra-curricular things to be done here i.e. skiing, skating, cross country skiing, snow shoeing – not that I do many of these – no time!!!

Schedule for idle office

Last week I started my holiday job. I’m standing in for a guy who’s gone overseas for 3 months. Quite interesting – would be even more interesting if they paid me as an engineer and not as a ‘vacation worker’ (a species little better paid than a labourer). As I’m doing engineering work I suspect they are acting rather unethically. However as there are plenty of students with no work at all I’m not inclined to complain too loudly!

I have a deep depression on me, due to the fact that is is impossible – and I mean impossible – to get a job here! I have tried the papers and the radio stations, and the TV stations, and the film studios. I have my name down on about seven secretarial agencies, and every day I look in the paper. Tomorrow I’m going to ring the advertising agencies and PR firms – and, would you believe, I am even trying to get a job teaching English to foreigners! The work situation is appalling: I’ve had several people interested in taking me on, but the economic position is so bad here that just nobody is hiring any staff. They had strikes here in practically every industry lasting for three months this summer, and I’ve met people who’ve been out of work for anything from three weeks to four months!

I got a job for about 7 weeks filling in while they are waiting for someone to come out from England. It’s a super modern air-conditioned office with most of the staff English and very pleasant and I shall be quite sorry to leave although the job leaves much to be desired in the way of interest for the majority of the time!

Underneath the huts is a little room dug into the earth where the potting [making pots!]– which is done entirely by the men – goes on. The women are not considered really clever enough to help apparently – although I expect they do heavy work like they do in the fields where it is they who pick up the 6 ft canes, tie them up and carry them up a precipitous ladder resting against the three ton lorries which must be backbreaking for a whole day from about 7 to 5.30.

Stocking the larder/ self-sufficiency

My sheep are hanging over me again – metaphorically speaking. Firstly they are getting pretty short of grass, though I’m glad to say that most of them seem to be prepared to eat the hay I made with the sweat of my brow last summer, as well as the sheep nuts which I am giving at a reduced rate because of the hay. Secondly, they have all got to be injected – at least the seven ewes have – but I’m putting that off, today, as it was a stormy night and they will all be wet today and unpleasant to hold still while X jabs them. The chicken are also hanging over me at the moment as they have practically given up laying, and I need a lesson in what to do next.

 

We are so cosy and warm in our log cabin, second winter. We built a larder/storage room this autumn, so now we have four rooms – very grand! I did a lot of canning again this year, stocking the shelves up with plums, pears, apples, apple sauce and jams and jellies for the winter. I have to say, I am getting quite a professional when it comes to canning!

Because of a lot of delays this summer, we never did get our house started. Next year for sure. I am quite content with our log cabin, at least for one year more.

 

After their initial flightiness and standoffishness my new chicks seem to be settling down. We are up to about four eggs a day from 6 so that’s not bad, and I have started selling them again.

Our neighbour’s wife and the two younger kids were away. His dogs took off after a pig and he came back to leave the older boy with us and get a dagger before chasing after them. By the time he got back supper was ready so we invited him in too.

 

The kitchen is my favourite, all logs and wooden shelves and workbench, and filled jars and rose hips strung out to dry for tea. Our garden came out well, and in fact we’re still eating carrots and cabbage and beetroot from it, and I planted some pretty flowers in front of the cabin. This summer we also acquired one cat  (to keep the mice away), two white ducks called George and Martha and five chickens, which actually are too young to lay eggs until the early spring.

 

Last week I heard a couple of shots and thought next door was killing off a sheep, but he phoned to warn us the butcher had come to butcher his cow, and the first shot sent it straight off and over a 4 ft fence to land dead at the top of our drive. As their Landrover was in the garage for a couple of days the remains of the poor beast had to remain outside our gate, loose head and all the innards until he could take them away. The rural postie hesitates as to whether to get out of the car to put our letters in the box, pools of blood etc. everywhere.

 

I got on reasonably well, in a slightly ill-disciplined way while they were up north. I never managed to make my bed until the day they were coming home, and most days forgot even to pull it together after breakfast – but I did several washes, and managed to cook a lamb casserole which lasted two days, and sausages which X left for another two. One day I bought a ‘boil in a bag’ meal from Woolworth’s, which wasn’t bad though I imagine one would quickly get tired of them, apart from the expense, and another day I fried some lamb cutlets. On Friday, expecting the others back in the evening, I was extremely domesticated, and very busy! Made my bed! Hoovered the house from one end to the other, and dusted everywhere, even the tops of the pictures and the mantelpiece which involved taking down all the Christmas cards and putting them back again. Cleaned the windows, put a coat of paint which has waited a long time on bits of the outside room, and cooked another large casserole and a fruit salad in preparation for them: I was exhausted. My performance amazed me!

The couple down the road came over Sunday week ago and collected the three black wether lambs which I had promised to let them have, and on Saturday when I had the car back for the trailer I went and collected three, a year older but white, from X to keep the summer grass down and prepare themselves for the freezer a bit later on. As the first couple were prepared to pay what I had to pay for the replacements that means we get about half our meat supplies for about 6 or 8 months more or less for nothing (well, not quite if you allow for feeding the mother ewes in the winter, and inoculating them etc., plus interest on the capital tied up in the fields).

Each day X has been away there’s been no water after breakfast. The first day the jolly new filter thing had come adrift; that was easy, I took out the filter and put the two bits together, deciding I’d rather have brown water than no water. The next day they were adrift again but ominously no water was coming out of the pipe, which means the holding tank is empty. I struggled up to the jolly tank – it was very frosty and very wet, but the tank and pipes were all in place. Only the thought of no hot bath kept me going after that. The neighbour had told me his rams were well behaved but I kept a wary eye out for them and took a big stick, so on to the bucket. I found a piece of rope tied across the creek and I presumed it was for holding whilst investigating the bucket, so I hoped for the best and did that, and found under the chicken wire and many leaves a branch had got in and blocked up the opening out, so I felt very triumphant about that but realise that I’m not so sure I like Heath Robinson contraptions as I thought I did! This morning the filter was disconnected again so I joined it up once more, but tonight something very odd is happening, it was full but didn’t appear to be moving so I rashly unscrewed one end and the full blast of water shot over me. X is due home tomorrow so I think I’ll leave any further efforts to him; I just hope I get a hot bath tonight.

 

X thinks her dahlias are smaller this year than last and that the answer is sheep manure. There were two possibilities – to try and rake it up from the fields, or to dig it out from underneath the neighbour’s woolshed. We chose the latter, but it was a pretty unsavoury job. Little headroom, long whiskers of cobwebs plus, hanging from the slatted floor above, and a good deal of it well trodden down where the sheep had been put in to keep them dry if it threatened rain before shearing. We contracted with the manager to pay him $10 for a trailer full – but called it a day a $5 worth! It looks a most miserable little heap now we have it sitting in the field waiting to be distributed. Never mind, next year I hope to have a nice pile of chick manure mixed with sawdust

 

We have built a new chicken coop and run. Our hens are laying six eggs a day, and very soon we’re getting a whole bunch of baby chicks, which may start laying in the autumn, or next spring for sure. This is the first year we have made it with our chickens, the ones we had the last two years never did anything much. Nothing is nicer than getting eggs out of the nesting box – especially when you see how incredibly expensive they are in the stores!

Crime/sympathy

I am sorry to hear about the very distressing events so close to you. Somehow things like that only ever seem to happen ‘somewhere else’, and if it does happen near you, it comes as a great shock. It makes one feel very vulnerable.

Things here are getting a bit rough – a murder a minute including 2 R.C. priests, one of whom was just quietly saying his prayers, by himself, in his church one evening. It’s very hard to understand.

cheeky thief

The guy next door to me woke up with someone in his flat on the 2nd floor; he put the light on and after the initial mutual ‘surprise’, the thief took off OUT THE WINDOW and down the drain pipe with my neighbour yelling abuse at him and the thief replying something like ‘and the same to you’. He had pocketed the guy’s cell phone and wallet, had removed a blanket from him as he slept!! in which to carry off further loot.

[About getting some specialist cutting done for an artwork] He looked at my lovely granite and asked where I’d got it from. Feeling a bit apprehensive I said a man in X had given it to me, but I knew it wasn’t from this enormous firm I’d gone to. He replied, ‘In fact it is a piece of ours’. It’s fortunate I’m beyond blushing! But seeing the name of the hotel it had been used on he knew who had given it to me as they had both worked on it. Evidently a big trolley with a pile of this stone had been stolen only a few weeks earlier: not surprising he was suspicious.

The saga of the carpet is coming to a head soon – that is the carpet which our ex-president at the club found in a cupboard and cut up and laid in the kitchen. The hairdresser downstairs who was storing it up to lay in her new spa-pool annexe has finally taken the course I suggested to her about six weeks ago and laid a claim against us in the Small Claims Tribunal – though I wanted it laid against the owners of the building as well, seeing as how one of their directors told her to put it in the cupboard, and another told us we might use it supposing it was somebody’s leftover, and it’s their kitchen anyway!

He said the other day that he was $1500 down on the theft of the skins which were stolen from his shed two or three months ago, because they were not covered by his insurance policy; and last week he was going off to X one day to try and sort out the money due to him for the trees that were felled. Apparently the woodmen had gone bust, and the mill to which they had taken the trees for sawing said they had no record of which came from his land, and which from the land across the river which they were felling and carting the same time.

The future and posterity

[From the days before computers etc. when phone calls abroad were booked and cost a fortune] It was lovely to hear you the other day – it never ceases to be a miracle to me – and surely it can’t be long before we’ll be able to travel that way.

On the subject of grandchildren, there is still only one who is married, and no sign of offspring – two are living happily in sin, one is gay, and three are still playing the field. So much for posterity.

This typewriter is being a great nuisance. It seems to have stopped refusing to reverse the ribbon at one end, which it was doing for a time, but now the platen and rollers are refusing to grip the paper, so it won’t wind on properly – and often refuses to accept the paper when I first feed it in without scrumpling it up at the edges.

She was a remarkable old lady – daughter of a skilled cabinet maker – who lost her mother in childbirth when she was ten, and thereafter was ‘mother’ to the family until the first world war, when her three brothers went off to the Front as they got old enough. She got a job in the Income Tax department, which she lost again with peacetime. Her father remarried a lady with a boarding house in X, and her brothers also soon got married so she was on her own and determined to see the world (which meant accepting a post as a cook in New Zealand with a £10 passage). She only had one contact there, apart from her prospective employer, and that was a Kiwi who had stayed a couple of years before in the [boarding house]. She had never met him, but her father gave her the name and address. In due course she got in touch with him. And at their second meeting he proposed and was accepted! That was the late 20s, and she was rising 40, but they had four children, including a set of twins.

The general principle behind the government’s Social Welfare programme seems to be that everyone should save like mad all their lives, in order to pay for their own old age and eventual demise; and the idea I was brought up on that any money you inherit should be regarded as a trust for your children, with enjoyment of the income only, is almost regarded as subversive!

The service started with a 3 1/2 year old boy singing the 1st verse of Away in the Manger. He and an 8 year old girl were brought out from an orphanage in Rumania / Russia?? – both very weakly. In 18 months they’re speaking fluent English and healthy and delightful. Their adopted parents are wonderful, having brought up their family, starting again.

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.

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.