Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The difference a minute makes

I had to phone the surgery for the result of a test. I wasn't worried because the doctor wasn't so I phoned expecting the receptionist to say, 'No problem.' I didn't expect her to say, 'You need to see the doctor.'

That was yesterday afternoon. I had to wait until this morning to see the doctor by which time I was planning the hymns for my funeral.

I went into the doctor's room with leaden feet feeling both sick and faint. (I am not good with anything that might involve hospitals or tests you understand. And I'm slightly neurotic.)
The doctor read the notes and said, 'Fine, it's benign.' She looked puzzled. 'Why have you come to see me?'

I hugged her and wept on her shoulder. No, I didn't really but I did skip out of the surgery. Suddenly life looked very good - and precious again. And too short not to eat that KitKat that's been sitting in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Life is too short to decorate a strawberry

A word of advice: if your daughter ever asks you to make some fairy toadstools for a party say no. If asked why not, answer misquoting Shirley Conran: life is too short to decorate a strawberry.

If you are thinking, 'it can't be that bad,' and are tempted to say yes don't say I haven't warned you. But here to convince you is the story of my morning.

So a while ago Daughter sends me a picture and asks if I'll make some fairy toadstools for GrandDaughter1's 6th birthday. I have a quick look at the picture and say, 'Of course, no problem.'

Come this morning I have gathered all I need: strawberries, marshmallows and a tube of Sainsbury's white icing* and I begin.

Have you ever tried to balance a strawberry on a mini marshmallow AND make it stand up? I think maybe I just need to make lots and cram them all together so they support each other so I persevere.

What's more, no matter how much you pat them with kitchen towel strawberries have a natural moistness, which makes it almost impossible to make the icing spots stick on. That irritation plus the fact that I felt the arrangement of the spots was perhaps not botanically correct cause me to go and look for the original picture and instructions.

That's when I discover:

a) that the toadstools are meant to be stuck on cocktail sticks not to stand on their own;
b) and that they're not mini marshmallows;
c) and that I was supposed to use *melted chocolate not icing for the spots.

I make some executive decisions. I shall merge my idea with the original and go retro by covering half a butternut squash in foil in the way cabbage was used in the 70s for cheese and pineapple on sticks.

What seems like a brilliant improvisation turns out to be flawed.
If the stick isn't vertical it will gradually work its way through the strawberry flesh and the fruit will fall off and there are only so many upright toadstools you can get on the end of a butternut squash.
Seven in fact.

I could go on listing the problems but by now I hope you will have got the message but just in case I'll repeat it for you.
Never agree to make fairy toadstools for your grand-daughter's birthday party.

Eating the body

Went with Uncle to RC mass again last night. This time we managed to get him and his wheelchair into the car (thanks to Husband) rather than wait for a taxi.

I struggled a bit more with the service this week as it was focussing on transubstantiation and the sermon used a lot of words that I didn't really follow. Don't think Uncle was wild about it either as he fell asleep during the homily. He was sitting in his wheelchair in a gap between the rows and I was sitting behind him so I prodded him gently when it was time for the offering. 
'Did anyone notice, do you think?' he asked me afterwards.
But I think it was only his old neighbour who's also his friend and she understood.

Preparations are well under way for his party, which is now only three weeks away and apart from the fact that he seems to be confusing his guests all is going well!

But this afternoon it's GrandDaughter1's birthday party. She's six tomorrow and has invited a number of little girls for the party. No boys - except her little brother - allowed. Oh and granddads and dad.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Back to the future, I mean the past

It was a last minute spur of the moment decision to go to my old school reunion but I'm glad I went.

It was a lunch party held in Sketty Hall and the food was excellent - except perhaps the mille feuille had a bit too much pastry and was very sweet - but of course I ate every last morsel. What was especially good about it was that I was one of the youngest there!

In the circles I mix with these days I am usually one of the oldest so that in itself was a treat. I'd guessed I would be as shortly after I left the school went co-ed and was swallowed up by the nearby boys' school, Bishop Gore.

There were only two of us at the reunion who started at Glanmor in 1964: me and Molly Clement. We didn't know each other as we were in different forms but Molly said she recognised me when we looked at the old school photos on display.
Molly is self-employed making ceremonial outfits for various events and people worldwide, including royalty. I spent most of my life being a wife and mother. Two Glanmor girls with very different stories. It would be nice to find out what happened to all the rest of our year.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Collected Works of A.J.Fikry

A wonderful wonderful book about a book store owner, an orphaned child, a gentle policeman and an undeterred publisher's rep.

I noticed it in Waterstone's today and it appears the title has been changed to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Whatever it's called it is an easy and beautiful read. *****

I gave up on Lady Chatterley's Lover. Didn't like the style or the characters so stopped. (Before reaching any naughty bits.)

But I did enjoy The Poet and the Private Eye by Rob Gittins. It's a fictional tale based on true events. An investigator is employed by a New York magazine to follow and find out the dirt on a visiting poet who has threatened to sue them because of what they've written about him. The poet is Dylan Thomas and the events that take place in the story all happened but have been condensed into one visit rather than the four original. Written from the investigator's perspective we're drawn into his crumbling private life as well. 

Again an easy read and enjoyable - although Thomas's behaviour is horrendous. ***

I took another two books back to the library today. One was a light murder mystery and the other ... I can't remember. It must have been really good. (Actually I'm sure it was; i wish I could remember.) (And if I could log in to my library account I'd find out but it won't let me.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Paris bombings

I collected GrandDaughter1 and her friend from school yesterday and took them to gym class. In the car I listened to them discussing what they'd thought about during the two minute silence 'for the people who were killed.'

Friend said she wondered why her granddad had died before she could meet him. GrandDaughter1 said she'd thought about a man being killed and then a woman being killed and then a baby dying because there was no-one to feed him.

I suppose it's good that the school should deal with topical tragedies but I wonder if the children should be given time to dwell on it. These girls are only five years old and while they both seemed to be coping with their thoughts I don't think that would necessarily be true of all children especially the more imaginative or anxious ones. And I wonder how much they'd actually understood about the whole very complex situation. As an adult I struggle to get my thoughts around it.

Maybe I'm just naive or over-protective but I'd like to shield them a little longer. 

Attempting coitus

My plan to take a different path through the woods in the hope it would be shorter and drier turned out, like many of my plans, to be flawed.

It was just as wet.
It wasn't shorter, in fact, after meandering it rejoined the long bit of the original path.
It involved tiptoeing across a rotten tree trunk over a boggy marsh with the inevitable resultant wet feet.

At which point I said, 'Blow it. I shall resign myself to wet feet.' Oh yes I have holes in my boots. Yes, the same boots I said the same thing about last year and quite possibly the year before. But this year I shall definitely buy some new ones. I expect.

Then all I had to do was avoid the falling and hanging-on-by-a-twig branches. Which raises the inevitable question: if a tree falls on my head in the wood will anyone hear me scream?

I survived to tell the tale and of George humping another dog on the beach. Noteworthy because he got both the right sex and the right end. There is hope for him yet.

Monday's post on being clever

My excuse being that I wrote it in my head yesterday but didn't have time to progress it any further.

So, I am of an age that sat the 11+. I passed and went to grammar school thus putting myself in the grouping labelled 'brighter' children. 

In the 'top' class of my year I sat maths and English language O-levels a year early.

After sitting the rest of my O-levels I went on to sixth form, with probably just under half of the year group, the rest leaving to find work.

I think most of those in sixth form went on to university or further education of some sort putting us amongst the select (in those days) few.

I've even got a Master's degree. La crème de la crème as Miss Brodie would say.

So you'd think I'd be clever, right?

Husband insists that I am intelligent but I am a butterfly, getting distracted easily, and that I've never practised or had to be smart. That is, I've never worked in an environment where I've had to apply my intelligence. To use it and find out what I'm capable of.

Personally I think Husband is being generous. I've got by and scraped through all those achievements, although I do know when to use a colon. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm not looking for praise or denial! I know I'm not stupid in spite of what some people think and is evidenced from the way they've treated me. And quite often I play up my foolishness for effect. But I'm just amazed at what I don't know and how I managed to fool so many other people ...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Roman Catholic for a night

The taxi turned up. Twenty minutes late but the driver was apologetic and he made sure the office put him down to pick us up afterwards as well and he was spot on time.

So, mass in a Roman Catholic church. One thing I discovered is that congregations are alike everywhere: everyone huddles together at the back. But a major difference between the service and what I've grown accustomed to is the silence. Everyone came in, took their seats and didn't speak, or if they did it was in a whisper. And at the end nearly everyone got up and left without chatting.

Uncle got lots of welcome back kisses and I think he was pleased to be there. I managed to follow the service pretty well from the printed sheet except when the congregation went 'off piste' and said things I couldn't find. And it gave very clear directions - stand, sit, kneel - so I wasn't caught out. That aside it wasn't that much different from the Anglican service I am so familiar with, having grown up attending the local Church in Wales services. Except of course I didn't join in the Mary prayers or take communion (and it was only the bread, another strange thing I find).

We're hoping Uncle will be able to find someone in church to give him lifts in future. I don't mind going but it's a pain waiting for the taxi and it costs £16 altogether each time!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Back to normal today

After two days of being looked after it's back to the grindstone today, trying to catch up with cleaning and 'stuff'. My to-do list seems to get longer faster than it gets shorter. If you see what I mean.

We're trying again tonight to get Uncle to church. The taxi company that failed to turn up in time last week is the only one in Swansea that has wheelchair-accessible cabs so we're a bit stuck. We might have a go later in the week at getting Uncle into our mini but I don't think we'd be able to get his wheelchair in even if we got him in. And out.

Finding out that life is not simple for the disabled. But that still doesn't justify the number of disabled parking spaces compared to parent and toddler!

* * * * * * * *
Looking out at the rain - the edge of Abigail I believe - today it's hard to remember that it was only two months ago that we were sitting by a lake in Hanoi being drawn.
You can't tell from that photo just how very hot and humid it was.
Quite a crowd gathered as the artist did her work.
Including another artist who decided to draw us too.
Which one do you think is best?
The one we paid for?

Or the one we didn't pay for? (Of course we did pay for it too in spite of Husband's grumbles.)

If you look at the first photo you can see Husband is actually smiling. Slightly. It's just that his resting face is grumpy.

And this is Friday's post

Loved The Lady in the Van. Rest assured, if you have read Alan Bennett's writings about Miss Shepherd you will not be disappointed: Maggie Smith IS Miss Shepherd.

The small afternoon audience consisted entirely of elderly couples who sat very quietly waiting for the show to begin. I felt positively youthful and had the urge to giggle loudly. I guess that if I were put into a lit room with the other viewers and a young person came in, that yp would fail to see any difference in the ages of those already in the room, tarring them all with the same 'old people' brush, but I don't feel old! 

Anyway after the adverts the rather annoying man who was telling us what to do - switch off phones etc - could hardly contain his excitement: 'Now comes the bit we all love - the trailers. And don't worry, they are all appropriate for this showing.'

So I sat there waiting for a Star Wars clip and what I got was trailers for Carol (about a lesbian love affair) and The Danish Girl (about a transgender pioneer). It was only because it was my birthday treat that Husband agreed to come and see The Lady in the Van; even though he enjoyed it I can't see him rushing back for either of those.