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!)

Self-preservation

I’ve just had a visitation from our vicar – very pleasant but I just can’t take being prayed over in my sitting room. And saying no thank you – it doesn’t sound very friendly, but…

Reflecting on the theme of self-destructive behaviour – one of the frustrations and demoralisers for self-destroyers is that often those around them appear to (and do) ‘press on regardless’ because that seems to be the only way to prevent themselves being sucked into self-destruction too.

[Child of 7] Some people say ‘I wish all my dreams would all come true but I wouldn’t – I have some TERRIBLE dreams!’

We stayed there until the following Monday. On the whole the time was fun if one was able to ignore X who was utterly impossible for large chunks of the time; her skills at putting-down and misconstruction are becoming highly honed with age.

Are the satisfactions of your work worth the assaults on your health by all the germs that your patients cough, splutter, sneeze, blow and breathe in your face each day? (It’s a pity that you can’t enclose yourself in an armoured-glass cubicle equipped with a two-way microphone-loudspeaker, like the embassy enquiry desk here – but I can see that it would have drawbacks in the field of interpersonal relationships.)

We had an orgy of present opening somewhat overcast by the boys’ cub-master calling as he couldn’t manage the previous night – and staying for well over 2 hours when X made an inspired invitation to join us in a cup of tea before he went!

I have an inclination to have all my hair clipped off to see if it will grow back curly. X nearly had hysterics when I told her but I must do something to boost my morale!

Her ‘new’ Mini looks fine, in very good condition. It was good of her landlord to go round with her when she was looking. I fear car salesmen are a breed of crooks.

the jovial vicar

We wasted an afternoon at a Mothers’ Union affair on Saturday. She had to run, and produce beforehand, a lucky dip of grocery things and I went to support and buy. There were 9 members present and me !!! The chairwoman had done no advertising and instead of making about £100 we eventually cleared about £30, which was wonderful in itself from so few, but useless towards their annual expenses. It was quite the dreariest 2 or 3 hours that you ever met and I got landed with running the raffle, but the helpers had already taken their tickets and nobody else came, so there was little to do! We had tea and retreated with endless goodies that we didn’t really want.The Vicar was very jovial and full of long and pointless stories and had to be avoided at all costs and Mrs. was full of talk about her runner beans and the trials of her Brussel sprouts so it was all fairly cheesing. The only good thing was the chocolate cake we had for tea! But the endless sandwiches of tinned salmon and corned beef which some earnest member had cut went quite disregarded and I don’t know if there were any takers to buy them at the end as I left just before the end. It was suggested that I should join but I really think it is to be avoided at all costs!! With luck it will die a natural death before I get around to doing so.

 

Care home 2

Tomorrow I’m going to X for a cataract op on the second eye and there for a couple of nights. After that I hope to drive better but doubt I shall dare take on the motorway. Impossible to enjoy Y [care home] but it’s a huge relief to have Z [partner] reasonably well looked after by exceptionally nice overworked carers… Sorry such a dull letter but life here is fairly limited!

The VIP went to our old people’s home. No one seemed to recognise him, so he approached one of the more alert-looking old dears sitting around the walls. ‘Do you know who I am?’ he asked. ‘No, dear,’ replied the resident, ‘but don’t worry. Just ask at the desk: they’ll tell you.’

The Mayor’s visit

X has Alzheimer’s and, thankfully, is blissfully unaware of his wife’s death. He’s as happy as Larry in the nursing home, and isn’t, thank goodness, at all difficult to look after. He loves having visitors, especially when they bring him sweets and biscuits!

Life in this place becomes more and more of a horror story – about 90% of the inmates senile and the rest have given up interest in much other than their health and the food. Lucky old X jumped ship in good time to avoid all this… Awful as old age is I can escape into books, libraries and pubs – so far!

His memory is alas extremely short-term but it helps in that he no longer remembers long enough to worry.

I hate the story about your aunt – old age is terrible. Our turn is coming and I’m dreading it.

Herewith new address – a sort of old people’s home with extra nursing care. Rather a drear thing but the lesser of two evils as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cope with X’s problems here. We are there on a month’s trial so may well get chucked out as X is not good at cooperating with nurses.

Oh dear – Xmas – what a bore – I can imagine paper hats at the home. My bed-sit in the home is 12×12 so you can imagine I can’t take much other than a bed and 2 chairs!

I am around elderly people a lot and although most of them are interesting and wonderful I sometimes find myself thinking about old age. I have had some absolutely hysterical lunches with X, when I have visited her at the [care home]. It really makes you think when you see how people are treated in these homes and the amount they cost is horrendous.

Medicine

X is looking v. frail and tires so easily – he takes umpteen pills which seem to keep his ulcer and heart ticking over and his nice young doctor assures him he’s doing well.

I gathered from X that they did take some scrape or whatever and results from that were to come back later – haven’t heard about that yet. I guess the question that remains is why the results of the original blood test or whatever were so strange, if it wasn’t what they thought it was.

X [new baby] is an enthusiastic drinker and managed to nibble a couple of holes in me early on, which then apparently got thrush, so we had a jolly week or so there. Finally, they seem to be healing up thankfully and we’re building up toward full breast-feeding again. What would my La Leche friends say? Yesterday I went out to the hospital to have warm ozone blown on me which was very pleasant and may have been helping the final healing – what funny things they think of ! Better than being microwaved, which was also on offer!

On the boring subject of my indisposition last year, I had a brush with the dread disease (not bosom) and some major surgery by the most super surgeon who recently arrived here – lucky for me. He was 6ft 3ins, bearded and could be described as the gentle brown giant. Couldn’t have had anyone kinder, gentler or more skilful…

on steroids

He wanted me to start the steroids that day – which I duly did after dinner… I found I had no headache and felt fine – I can even open my mouth properly! BUT the other side effects sound almost worse than the complaint. Getting heavy over all trunk and weak in the muscles – arms and legs – and a round face. ‘Walk tall, sit on firm dining room type chair’ and so on.

I seem to remember she got allergies by the score when she was with you before and had to use an ioniser or some such to purify the air! I am sure they are splendid devices but I am always a bit of a cynic and want to see something for my money.

… there was a general gloom anyway as one Partner had died in the week and the husband of another had ‘pulled a muscle in his chest’ – he died suddenly the next day, heart attack of course.

 

Friends

I ALSO feel the need to join something to meet people as my already small circle of friends just gets smaller. A good friend with whom I did a bit of eating out and the occasional pub crawl moved and I really miss her. I have more friends out of the country than in the country.

So much for friends who say ‘any time’ – the first three people I asked for a lift to the clinic were out. I then asked X who came half an hour too soon, dropped me off and said, ‘You’d better get a taxi back.’

I spoke to X today – I had forgotten how much talking to him lifts my spirits. He is a very positive person and seems to enjoy life so much.

She was so nice and I enjoyed doing things with her. On paper she is dull but not dull at all in real life! I think she suffers from no one over here ever showing an interest in her life in X etc. Well, the English are incredibly parochial and expect everyone to be endlessly interested in their local gossip.

I really enjoyed our get-together and trust it won’t be 19 years before it happens again. You had better come here for the next reunion. The exchange rate is in your favour.

X has broken his leg badly in two places and is furiously frustrated by crutches and not allowed to drive a car for weeks. Lives alone so not easy for him. In my experience friends race in for a short time and then get caught up by their own problems.

the broken leg

Accounting

We seem to have the budget knocked into presentable form, which is not much short of a miracle!… We seem to have staved off one daft idea – presenting the under-resourced budget with a ‘faith gap’ i.e. a deficit which would be made up by putting the guilties on X to contribute a bit more. Certain items in the budget would not be spent until extra funds were forthcoming. It sounded an accountant’s nightmare.

faith gap

 

… as part of my campaign to cut down my super-annuitants’ surcharge, I wrote off to a deer farm which was advertising for capitalists who would like to make nice tax losses while the place was developed; but it involved putting about $13,000 into the place as a minimum, over the next five years, and I decided that was too large and longterm for me.

Non-sequiturs

Actually X plans to work in NZ next summer. She has worked in Oz so can’t get another work permit for Australia so NZ is the place! Did you hear that Y’s [totally unrelated person to previous] husband committed suicide last New Year – a terrible time for them all.

It’s best to be there when they begin to hatch in the night to keep the crabs off the baby turtles. Mrs. X ailing, so I may not be here for my whole 2 years.

We are hopping

[from child] We used to have 2 rabbits but one ran away, and we are hopping [sic] to find her the one that ran away was named Thumper and the other is named Midnight. I better go know because I are going to help mummy tidy my room.

My favourite dinosaur is Apatasaurus. I got a sellotape for Christmas.

He had a career choice dilemma which he solved thus: ‘On one side I’ll be a fire engine driver and on the other I’ll be Father Christmas.’

I wish I was better at living alone and that people would stop telling me what fun it must be looking at Sainsbury’s! [Flat is in block opposite the store.]