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.

 

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!

 

Things fall apart (2)

It was very hot and humid on Christmas Day. My fridge broke down and I had diarrhoea. I think the three are connected.

Had to tell you the saga of my blue skirt – made from a 12 year old pair of wide bottom trews – lovely colour that goes with all my tops. Last week it disappeared – I went through all my drawers umpteen times – and X’s in case I’d picked it up with his washing – and all my hangers, airing cupboard, linen cupboard – the lot. I felt I was losing my marbles! At last I gave up – that evening I went to the bathroom and saw a shape on the black floor under a stool. There it was – ludicrous isn’t it? Who’d think of looking there?

Church was miserable. We got a new vicar last year who I really like and I felt was actually getting something happening in Church. But it seems it was but a step in a process of changing the style of worship at the parish and it’s now changed so much I’m having difficulty with it. Much more charismatic style (but not in response of the congregation by and large). Hymns have mostly been replaced by more modern songs, the choir has been blended with the group who did the occasional more modern song so there’s quite a lot of drums + guitar as opposed to organ, and the robes of the choir have gone.  …   The Vicar’s now changed the children’s format to being in church at the beginning instead of the end.  …  All in all I’m a bit fed up with it, especially after such an auspicious beginning. However I’ll probably persevere as I guess it’s those people who offer the most who can also cause the worst upsets and I’d rather have the mountains and troughs than a bland nothing we’ve had for 20 years.

Did you hear that X’s young sister who had a longstanding relationship with a doctor in ?USA eventually married and in a year or two he left her and went off with another woman. There’s just no knowing.

…the place X orders the wine and glasses failed to send the glasses, which we found when we arrived at 7.15 p.m. and two people had already arrived early – nothing but chaos. After about half an hour I saw a rather dull looking woman stuck in a corner by herself, and asked her name as I wondered if she was someone I’d phoned, only to find she was one of the two exhibiting artists – I was more than a little embarrassed. Unfortunately the only person who’d met her was Y and he arrived late. To add to the flop, Z completely failed to open the Exhibition, so there was no summary of the work of the exhibitor and hopes there would be sales that night so no one would be disappointed etc. In fact there weren’t and there haven’t been since.

My writing is a bit of a worry. I must check what the little jiggles in letters mean – something to do with the nerves or nervous system I think!

He kicked the walls, called me some even more choice names implying I had a string of men and took money for it, and threw me out. It’s nice to find one has friends. Three people offered me a bed for the night.

It eventually gave up – the RAC chap replaced the condenser on the road again. It bunny hopped en route to the next stop and then gave up again. This time we waited 1 1/2 hours. The RAC came and took 2 hours to fix it. One hour later the cops pulled X over as the back lights weren’t working (can’t think how it got its MOT!) Waited again for RAC. He couldn’t fix it by 3 a.m. and eventually towed X all the way, arriving about 5.30 a.m.

I’ve felt under a lot of pressure although I can’t pinpoint why. I was afraid I’d end up in a loony bin half the year! … I also went for counselling with a psychotherapist but she didn’t seem to be helping enormously and charged like a wounded bull [Would that be charged as in fees or charged as in attack?] so I stopped going. She ran a rebirthing w/e which I went to (although I’ve always thought rebirthing sounded ridiculous). The rebirthing part of it was hopeless. I experienced nothing except asthma! But the visualisation exercises she and we did were really interesting and definitely how I tick. With one we had to lie quietly and visualise being on a hill top and then either walking into a town and seeing all the strange creatures there or letting them come to us. Then she put on music and we took it from there. I had an intriguing experience. I visualised going into the town then there was a swimming pool which I walked towards which turned into the sea. I walked into it. At first I was scared I wouldn’t be able to breathe then realised I could. In the sea I saw lots of strange things then eventually I was a baby in the arms of a black nursemaid who was singing to me. She was quite a chubby woman. I was just a small baby. It was a wonderful secure and happy feeling  …  I’ve also done quite a bit of dream analysis over that period with some interesting results but it was all getting a bit heavy so I’ve dropped it for the mo’. I was having a lot of nightmares and not sleeping too well.

…. backing out of the little parking space I backed into an 18 inch wooden post you couldn’t see from inside the car. Evidently numerous people had done the same thing – one with $1000 damage. X phoned the owner and was v. mildly complaining about it. To everyone’s amazement he painted it white and made it 6 inches higher.

reversing into the little post

Sex appeal and influence

I think he is very swade [sic] by her influance [sic] as to what they do with their time but love seems to do that to people. [Spelling not a strong point!]

I wrote and told her my memories of her mother – I said how jealous we all were at her ability to attract every man that set eyes on her  …   (perhaps this had something to do with her refusing to write her memoir for the family saying there were so many things she’d done in her life that she wasn’t proud of and much regretted.) Actually I didn’t tell X her mother was not attractive to look at and very shy but had tremendous sex appeal! Infuriating for her sister as all her male friends were grabbed up…

We borrowed X’s ram yesterday. Y brought it for us. As he drove up all our ewes moved up to the gate and accorded him a great welcome which he reciprocated in a most definite manner before the truck had even driven off. Undoubtedly a randy ram. [One has to work out whether ‘he’ is the driver or the ram!!!]

I absolutely agree about X – she is a delight to talk to as one gets to know her and is so attractive. My dear, imagine meeting Y and her together and you can see how I sink into the ground!! And I am old and not feeling in the competitive age – it must be ghastly for plain Janes to meet a couple like that at a party, although both are really so nice but do look rather out of this world. Not that you have any reason for feeling like an elephant but they have some sort of mysterious poise that is defeating, and automatically makes the rest of us feel boringly dull.

plain Jane sinks into the ground

Operations

[Child’s new word – will all the staff being trained need an operation, I wonder?] Apprenticitis.

…a pleasant visit to X who was recovering from a hysterectomy; recovering very well actually, which she is putting down to using a couple of arnica tablets before and after the operation – she said it felt a lot better than when she had any of her Caesars.

I’ve had a series of operations, some major, most minor. I have more in prospect. It has left me rather weak and I have no idea when I shall be able to return to work.

One of my many symptoms, as yet undiagnosed, is that both hands are in an arthritic condition, still and painful. So you’ll understand that I can’t write at length.

X eventually ended up in Ward 3 of the District General Hospital, with the prospect of some mysterious cross between a replacement hip and a pin – it is a prosthesis of sorts and the houseman could only describe it to me as half a hip-joint, which sounds very queer. The surgeon is said to be clever but brusque and pretty unapproachable, but as long as he does it well we shall be happy.

I was thrown into confusion last week by the surgeon’s secretary offering me a bed this Friday! I will do a phone call when I am back with another new lens and all ready to see out life with just one more pair of glasses I imagine.

Cattaracts [sic] – Yes, both done now and spot on so far.

cattaracts

The surgeon is frightfully busy this summer I gather (what with a long holiday and such like!) and she seems to think it may have to be in about September if she misses June, but is resigning herself to this by degrees and it will be his verdict when she crawls in to see him at the beginning of next week – by then I hope she will be able to face the walk from the hospital car park to outpatients!!

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!)