The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hello, I'm Back

Had a prolonged silence lately.  This is because there is either nothing happening that seems worth blogging about, or too much is happening to allow time to blog.  And over it all our future plans have been taken out of our hands and we have been manipulated from "above" by unseen puppeteers who masquerade as senior management where The Husband works.  After years of rumour and change and "improvements" and adopting new practices and seeing much of what he has skilfully, ingeniously and meticulously done in the past sent instead to China, where the "same" work cost £4.50 an hour, they have finally decided to make him redundant.  In fact all the laboratories are to be closed and the building sold.  What has been a local landmark business and where The Husband has worked for almost thirty-two years will now be located elsewhere, much of it on the other side of the in the world, and the bulldozers are not far behind. I wonder how many will notice it has gone...

The Husband has accepted this redundancy with a blithe heart, but as we all know even happy change can be stressful, so I am keeping an eye on him. We have had long-term plans ever since we met (which has entailed paying two mortgages, two lots of Council Tax and two piles of utility bills for almost twelve years, so has involved quite a bit of sacrifice along the way) to sell his house just north of London and move to mine in deepest rural mid-Wales when he retires.  That day was planned to be his sixtieth birthday, in March 2016.  Instead it will now be March 2012 when he last puts on his workwear and leaves the house to earn a crust.  His redundancy settlement will be enough to live on modestly for half those four years before he will draw his professional pension.  The equity from his house sale will easily provide another two years' money and a good lump sum to invest or for capital expenditure.  When he is 62 he will cash his endowment policy and we will have another boost in the bank account.  And finally when he is 66 the State Pension will come on stream.  We will manage.  We will more than manage.  We will be quite comfortable and time rich.  Not three foreign holidays a year, and cruises, comfortable.  But take the dog to the seaside on any nice sunny day we fancy comfortable.  It is enough.  It's all we want.

Emptying and selling The Husband's house will be a strenuous ordeal. It has four double bedrooms, two reception rooms, a large loft and outbuildings and they are all full.  Little of what is here is needed in Wales, only the best and most useful will be kept.  But once that is done, and the money invested sensibly, we have vast acres of time stretching out before us, while we are both fit and healthy enough to take up new hobbies and interests and fill our days to suit ourselves and be beholden to no-one but those we love.

I have enjoyed that way of life for some years now.  To have The Husband doing the same alongside me is pure luxury to me.  I literally can hardly wait.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Missionaries to the Interior

The Husband has taken to skyping The Naval Nephew while they are both online playing a game of World of Tanks of an evening, and oh!  the quantities of noise and skirls of laddish laughter that erupt, when one or the other of them scores a hit or (even more amusingly) gets blown to smithereens.  This is only one half of the exchange, as The Husband wears an earphone and microphone headset, so I can't hear anything issuing from The Naval Nephew.  But at the weekend I shall, as the young fella-me-lad is coming to stay and it will be again my lot in life to feed them while they talk utter tosh and then play games together on the big screen.

But I shall have got my money's worth out of their combined skill and strength in daylight hours, though, or they can whistle a duet for their supper.  I need them to create some shape and form at the bottom half of the garden and create an access way into what we drolly refer to as The Nature Reserve.

Just past the shed door the wilderness garden begins

Drolly and accurately, as leaving that area to have its head has produced a ceanothus and a buddleia to be reckoned with (no longer mere flowering shrubs, they are trees) and round them are crinoline skirts of weigela, mexican orange blossom and philadelphus.  Where once there was a boundary hedge there is now a twenty foot tall hawthorn tree and a wire (puppy-proof) fence interlaced with honeysuckle, dog roses and clematis.

 In the days when we could get in, we would sit around this firepit and tell stories

Raspberry canes come up at any random points where the sun can pierce the forest canopy, and periwinkle,  ivy and euphorbia carpet the rest.  Of the stone-edged paths there is no sign. It has been left alone - neglected - to the point of becoming romantic, like a historic ruin, and wee small creatures love it.  As do I.

Every year we have blackbirds, sparrows and dunnocks nesting there and coming down to feed off the seed we leave to encourage them. Above them, in the tall trees that mark the border with the school field, crows and wood pigeons make a home and impertinently help themselves to the food as well.

A visiting pigeon in 2010, when one could just squeeze through the gap behind

Over the years we have had squirrels, hedgehogs and especially frogs spending time with us.  One visitor looked out of her bedroom window early one morning to see a fox on the lawn.  The neighbourhood cats slink under the wrought iron side gate and head off in there with predatory stealth, so I guess not all the baby birds make it to adulthood.  In the process they leave a scent trail that drives The Dog wild with fury when his nostrils catch it next time he is let out into the garden, and he dashes off with his nose to the ground, galumphing along and harrumphing in indignation.

In the farthest corner there is a small hill of solidly compacted spoil that has been there a decade and a half since a hole was excavated for a pond, which we call The Dog's Mound.  He likes to stand on it and bark through the fence for the territorial hell of it, until we tell him to stop or else.  Should he depart this life while we are still living here we will bury him in his mound and doubtless often wish he were still upon it, barking his handsome head off.

I'd like to get into our suburban jungle to have a look-see occasionally, though.  At the moment a sturdy and immensely thorny rambling rose has choked off my last entrance point all summer.  It is meant to be growing over a metal arch, but April was so good this year that it grew like Topsy in all directions and now another arch needs to be erected to support this new growth to give some structure to the wildness and an intrance into the interior.  So I shall get the men togged up in jungle camouflage and hand them a machete each to hack their way into the heart of darkness.  As it were.  And when they are done, a doorway is opened and the wilderness for the meantime tamed I will hand them a beer, give them their dinner and try not to groan inwardly or moan outwardly when they talk of shiny things that go beep all the way through the meal.

They will, you know, because they can, when I let them.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Your Starter for Ten....

I am just going to squidge this in quickly, in that slight sliver of time between the end of dinner (melon, cannelloni, cafe espresso and a glass of licor de caramele) and University Challenge.  This evening I have just 13 minutes at my disposal, before The Husband and I settle down in front of his gi-normous screen and TV/film projector to shout out "answers" with more enthusiasm that accuracy when a more-than-life-size Jeremy Paxman (eek!) asks a question.  The screen and projector configuration gives us a home cinema in our study, which is utterly wonderful.  Last night we watched the Verdi Requiem from the Proms on it and it was magnificent, almost as good as singing in the Verdi Requiem in the RAH oneself.  Which I have done, so I speak as I have found.

When it comes to University Bong (as we fondly and familiarly call it, back from the time when the theme tune started with tuned timpani and went Bing Bang Bong doopy doowy doo etc) we are avid followers and "participants".  I have pretty much got it covered when it comes to English Lit, European History, Classical Music, Fine Art, Film and Entertainment.  I can also manage (some) current affairs and the occasional sideways detour into the biological sciences.  The Husband has flashes of brilliance in engineering, physics and mathematics.  We just need two others on Sport and Joggers and we'd have a fabby UC team right there in our own home cinema.

I have five minutes left to finish, proofread and post.  I am typing any old tosh today as I have noticed that otherwise (if I don't post for a day or seven) I sink without trace in the stats and have day after day of no visitors at all.  Which in Blogdom is shame indeed.  Almost as bad as not grabbing all the available points when the Music round is on Opera, which would be a disgrace, now, wouldn't it? 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Progress Report

This by way of an addendum to Wednesdays  It's going to take the form of Bridget Jones Type Diary Entry for Thursday.  Pounds Lost - Nil.  Units of Alcohol - Lots (half-price champagne night at our favourite local watering hole).  Rooms Cleaned - Half.

I tackled our sleeping quarters this morning, on the grounds that the first thing that meets my eye upon awakening may well set the mood for the day.  So I did the half of the room nearest the head of the bed.  I had meant to get further, but three hours of clearing, tidying, discarding, rubbing and scrubbing and vacuuming seemed enough. The other half will still be there tomorrow. 

Our matrimonial nest is flanked by bedside drawers with alcoves of glass shelves above, which have lights therein, left by the last incumbents and never taken out.  On my side I display personal effects such as cut glass pin dishes and scent bottles, photos of the nearest and dearest (The Husband, The Daughter and The Departed Parents), an alarm clock, a small cabinet of drawers where I put hair ornaments, bracelets, earrings and the like.  And on his side The Husband likes to display old till receipts, elastic bands, blunt pencils, spent matches, dead batteries and random bolts and screws, small change out of his trouser pockets, watches (some of which go and have straps and some of which don't) photos of me and The Daughter which I decided he should treasure and have near him, a pair of hair brushes that were his father's, mouth organs of various sizes down to miniature which weighs in at 1" long (I have no idea why he even owns these) and some personal grooming products I have bought for him at Christmas which he never uses.  The grooming products he uses are in the bathroom (cf yesterday).

Glass shelves attract a lot of dust.  They suck every particle of it out of the air and clasp it to them like a long-lost loved one they've been reunited with by surprise on a daytime TV show.  If the glass shelves have lots of little fiddly bits and bobs on them they are rarely dusted often enough to keep pace with their magnetic attraction to airborne molecular detritus.  I guess a conscientious housewife would take the whole lot off and dust properly every week.  Even a semi-slatternly trollop would lift some things to scoot under them with a cloth and skim around the others once every month or so.  And then there is me.  I groan inwardly about annually, when I can procrastinate no longer, and give it a good doing over, promising myself I won't leave it nearly so long next time.

It looks lovely when it's done.  Catch it now while it lasts! 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Picking myself up and dusting myself off...

I am terribly pleased to be able to report that since my last blog where I went chiz chiz like Molesworth rather a lot and felt everything was conspiring against me, especially my own body and my own home, I have since lost two pounds IN WEIGHT and tackled a bit of the house. The softly sagging mound that is my lower abdomen (what is known in the cosmetic surgery industry as a lady's "apron") is perceptibly smaller.  If it shrinks a bit more I might be able to pull it in and up on my own without resorting to Lycra to do it for me.  But let's not get ahead of myself.  2lbs can just as easily be put back on as lost.  When the scales read 7lbs less I can be sure something good is happening.

The bit of the house i decided to tackle was the smallest bit.  Softly, softly, catchee monkey.  I have "bottomed" the bathroom. In the course of the two hours it took I have thrown out several 4/5ths finished tubes of toothpaste, and ancient tooth brushes with curved overused bristles, and all those faffing little tubes and bottles of conditioners that come with hair colour, lots of dried up mascara, and lidless lipsticks and several candle holders (as having cheap tea lights in them means the smoke turns the tiles pale grey) and general chucked the clutter and bleached the mould and so on. Then I installed new soaps and fresh towels, so if we were to have a surprise visitor tomorrow at least they wouldn't be scared to take a bath or step under the shower.

 It doesn't look much, but I guess you had to have seen it before
I now feel immensely virtuous - one room down, seven more to go...two pounds gone, seven times that many to go.  Daily increments on the house (a room a day doesn't seem too ambitious, does it?) and weekly ones on the weight loss and by autumn both the house and I will be brighter, lighter and more fit for purpose.  Maybe The Husband will cast off a few kilos as well.  All of which is devoutly to be wished, but needs more than wishing to achieve. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary, after all.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Laxity, laziness and lassitude

I have never been deeply in the grip of a Northern European Protestant Work Ethic, and have always tended to work hard only when madly enthused or hard up against it, "it" being a deadline, or serious lack of money.  I have had some magnificent enthusiasms in the past, and have decorated entire rooms (including making curtains and other soft furnishings) in a day or two, and started and run big musical organisations to bring opera and other classical music to towns which theretofore had had none. But that was then and this is now.  I was young then and knew no discouragement.  Now I am in the middle of my middle years and pretty much on the floor most days.

I have so little physical energy nowadays I am frequently defeated even before I start.  The house looks neglected because I have either enough oomph to shop for meals and cook OR tackle the dusting and vacuuming, either to load up the dishwasher and washing machine OR tidy the bedrooms.  I find myself looking at the prices of two-bedroomed flats locally because the four-bedroomed monster that growls at me on all sides is often more burden than refuge.  And this is just one of the houses on our books.  We also have a three-bedroomed house with front and back gardens to care for in mid-Wales.  Oh, how I pine for The Husband's retirement when we will be responsible for that house alone (and to boot, have only one lot of bills to find).

I think it's because as well as being older than I've ever been before I am also bigger - fatter  - than I've ever been before, and the excess poundage is slowing me down.  So every day I am aware that as well as the house being neglected my health isn't getting enough of the right sort of attention either.  The same goes for The Husband.  We are going through this together, both older than we've ever been before and more weighed down by our bodies than we have ever been before.  And we don't like it but we are a bit stumped how we are going to effect the changes we crave. 

I've Googled "losing weight after fifty" and there seems to be a consensus that gaining weight is something the 50+ body does to us "to protect our bones and organs" should we fall.  It's a padding of fat as a safety feature argument that seems potty to me as putting inches on around the middle is a common cause of Type Two Diabetes, which is very bad for a person.

It seems that I would find I have an appreciable lift in mood and energy levels if I were to take exercise at least three times a week.  I love to swim but hate the palaver of going to the public baths, the chlorine in the air, and faffing about in cubicles and putting clothes in lockers. We've just had a week in  Spain and I was in and out of the hotel pool like a gamboling otter.  I said to the husband, if you dig a big hole in the lawn when we get back, I'll tile it?  Howsabout it?

A (middle-aged and matronly) girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Future Prospects

News Story
Clever budgeting needed for retirement
Tuesday 12th July 2011

"The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicts workers will need to work for longer and pay higher taxes to sustain the baby-boom generation of pensioners. This comes a week ahead of an official study on the subject by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
"The accounting firm calculates that reducing public debt to just below 40% of GDP by 2050, the same level as just before the financial crisis, would require 'fiscal tightening' that amounts to £20bn more 'austerity' and increasing the planned retirement age to 70.

"Under current proposals, the State Pension age would increase to 66 for both men and women by April 2020.

"Concerns have been raised by those who need to change their financial plans for retirement. The changes would affect women born on or between 6 April 1953 and 5 April 1960 - and men born on or between 6 December 1953 and 5 April 1960.

"Those affected by the change may have already arranged their finances to secure enough income for a decent standard of living in retirement. However, women could be facing an extra 6 years of work before they can draw the state pension (compared with a retirement age of 60, which most were expecting).
"If PricewaterhouseCoopers is correct, workers will face a further squeeze on their finances - as well as those approaching or already in retirement.

"Budgeting and living within your means is something that people of all ages would be well advised to do, particularly at the moment. There are even bank accounts that can help you to manage your money."

Being patronised by accountants - hmmmn.  One of the other things to "look forward to" in later life, eh?

The Husband and I both fall into the age range I have highlighted in bold italics, and we have been aware this was coming for two or three years now.  I suppose some people hoped the ConDems might have smiled kindly on their silver-haired voters, but we never expected them to, or anyone else to, for that matter, and maybe even 66 by 2020 won't happen either.  It could be put back yet again.  For younger people than us the prospects are even more bleak.  Our children's generation fully expect to get no state pension until 70+, maybe even 75.  They can retire whenever their employers will let them, of course, but they may need to continue to pay NI contribution into their state pension fund until they are deemed old and decrepit enough to be allowed to collect it. Either that or have invested so much in their private pensions they can manage without a state pension altogether.

Of course, it's not just the post-war baby boom to blame.  If the NHS hadn't been so fabulously successful in improving public health, and the increased standards of living achieved since 1945 hadn't happened, and the average age at death hadn't gone up so much, we wouldn't have this huge ageing population to support and fund.  It's without doubt the only "dead cert" growth area left in the economy; end-of-life care.  Pun intended. And if carers were to become as unionised and politicised as teachers, one day they might have the country over a barrel by threatening to strike; " Pay us more or wipe your own granny's shitty arse!"

We are living in interesting times.  I am, for one, fervently hoping I don't live on and on TOO long in them.  75 will do me.  80 tops.  Sorry to anyone who thinks they will miss me, but you'll thank me in the end, for not living into my 80s and 90s, I promise you.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Going the Way of All Flesh

Today is the completion day on Our Ma’s house sale.  I keep checking her bank account on-line to see if the money has arrived there or not, but I guess it will be the afternoon before it shows up.  I remember that when I bought my house in mid-Wales I had to ring the solicitor, half way over there in convoy with the furniture van, to check that the mortgage money had been transferred from the building society and that I could collect the house keys from the estate agents. 

The Husband seemed unmoved when we went to check that the house clearance was finished adequately on Tuesday.  He even said out loud “Goodbye and Good Riddance” which made me think that for years he has secretly regarded the house as a millstone around Our Ma’s neck that she couldn’t cope with, being too big, too unwieldy, and too invested with sentimental attachments.  Latterly, for fifteen years or more she always needed paid help with the garden and much of the housework, which was often not done as well as one might have liked to see it done, as the cleaner was only paid for two hours a week. 

I think this experience could be a warning to us all to downsize as ruthlessly as possible as one gets older.  Why have so much equity tied up in a house that is too large and cluttered with useless and worthless objects?  She could have managed easily in a one or two bedroom flat after her husband died in 1995, and had some considerable cash in the bank for more holidays or treats.  This is a sad thought, now everything she was hanging onto (along with what she perceived as being her independence and dignity) has been sold off, in the case of the bricks and mortar, or mostly discarded and thrown away, in the case of 90% of the contents.  We hope as much as this as possible will be used profitably by the recycling centre where it was delivered, but land fill will be the ultimate destination of quite a lot of it.

Crazy, isn't it, to pay for years for something to be dusted or vacuumed round only for it to be discarded and buried at the end?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Moving Out and Moving On

I suppose I can type this now, without fear of reprisals from The Fates.  We have sold Our Ma's house.

Contracts were exchanged this morning, and the completion date is set for the 30 June.  The Family will move out of the house that they - and only they - have occupied since it was built in 1956. We (the three remaining fit and filthy Family Members living hereabouts) will have to go though all the stuff and things amassed there since the family took occupancy fifty-five years ago, acquiring the keys off the council when my sister-in-law was not even yet walking and The Husband's arrival was imminent.  There are only fourteen months between Our Ma's babies, her Pigeon Pair.  Both still live locally, which is a boon at such a time.  We will be sifting through objets d'art, papers, photos, clothes, knick-knacks, tools, playthings, and sundry detritus from not only the past fifty-five years, but family articles inherited and acquired from earlier generations as well.  Everything from pots and pans to furs and family silver, with a hundred types of item in between.

Once we have taken away anything of lasting or sentimental value the professional house-clearing company will be called upon to do the rest, leaving the house empty of the family identity, but for decorative style and built-in shelves and such, ready for the next owners to take possession and do with it what they see fit.

The house was bought for cash in the early eighties when Thatcherism deemed the country needed far more owner-occupiers and fewer council tenants, not long after legislation was introduced to make such changes of ownership possible.  I suspect this was achieved with a mixture of savings and family money either given or inherited, so there was never a mortgage.  Our Ma and her husband went from being council tenants to outright owners overnight.  And now Our Ma goes from being owner-occupier to care home resident, so she is again renting, as it were.

And the babies she fed in the kitchen, dandled in the sitting room and soothed to sleep in the bedrooms will be responsible for all this while she has her every need attended to elsewhere, because that's how it is when child and parent swap places.  It's a gradual tipping of the balance of life, the most natural thing one can imagine, when one has a family member in her nineties.  Some middle-aged people find it very hard, and resent it, when the onus falls on them, but I think The Husband feels it is a privilege to do so much for one of the people who once did so much for him.

And I have yet another reason to love him.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

An almost unbroken silence... about to be interrupted.

It is more almost six weeks since my last confession.  I am in a state of disgrace when it comes to this blogging malarkey, and I can't even raise a smidgen of guilt, a scintilla of shame about that.  I guess if the mood isn't upon one and the muse is absent then we are marked out as the amateur writers and feeble self-publicists we genuinely are, we non-posting bloggers.  "See her?" they say "She can't even keep a blog.  Couldn't write her way out of a paper bag with a sharp pencil.  She's useless, she is..."

Can't even claim domestic rectitude has taken over and I have been too busy looking after other things and other people to put finger to key.  Nor have I been ill, beyond a day or three of sinusitis, ooh, ages ago.  Nor have we been away.

But I have had a birthday, and that day was also our wedding anniversary.  That took care of 31 May, and the two weekends either side of it.  When I told her in an e-mail, after she'd asked, that I was now 54 an old friend as near as dammit accused me of making it up and that she was sure I'd been 54 before, but I have never lied about my age in that direction.  In my teens (to get served in pubs and buy a ticket for an 18 at the flicks) I recalculated upwards, but I've never skimmed a day off my age.  I seem to remember the friend in question back in the 1980s admitting to taking four whole years off her date of birth when she met a nice chap who was two years younger than her.  To the extent of, when she found herself actually married to him, changing her passport (in those days it was filled in by fountain pen, by the issuing clerks, you don't believe me, you young ones, do you?) to cover her taradiddled tracks.  My How I Laughed!  But I didn't remind her.  She's been divorced and remarried since and the second husband is a little older than she is, so fibbing wasn't called for that time, and maybe she has forgotten that it was done in the past.  So when I received her teasing accusation I was doctoring the facts, I put that down to a spot of psychological projection and let it go.

I let a lot of things "go" these days.  I just can't be arsed to make an issue out of this fatiguing business of living life any more, so the sixth-form student firebrand I was in the mid-1970s simply wouldn't know me now.  However, I still get a bit cross about flagrant unfairness, potty extremism and wilful blind ignorance, if I bump hard up against an example and bark my shin on it.  But only instances in my direct personal experience, at the time, when I am there, and I will sometimes admonish the perpetrator and take them on in an argument if they want one.  I can't remember when I last harrumphed at a newspaper, though, or shouted at Radio Four.  Actually, I gave up Radio Four for Radio Two about twenty years ago, so that last example of crotchety intolerance is a bit out of date, but you know to what I refer - the blustering what? what? bloody what? stuff that happens in kitchens the country over on the hour every hour, on our being acquainted by the BBC about some gross ineptitude or heartless cruelty or other. 

That doesn't mean I have stopped valuing in the things I once cared about, I just don't get so strung out about them anymore.  Since letting "go" of such stuff I have found a sweet serenity in my life, that sits well with a loving husband, a daft and affectionate dog, and the just generally pottering about trying to keep out of mischief which has replaced what I once laughingly used to refer to as "my career".  You know, paid work.  Going off every day to fight monsters and bring back the bacon.  The Husband still earns our daily crust, and he describes his job as a lot of "colouring in without going over the lines and not being cheeky to teacher" as though there is a natural extension between how one learns to behave at primary school and one's working life.  Which of course there is.  Only the spending money is a bit more impressive later on.

I have often said a thing I heard many years ago, that grown-ups are just children with money.  We have some money, and time to spend it, now Our Ma is ensconced in the Bide-a-wee Home For the Baffled, and The Husband has been taking me, with a delicious frequency and insouciant regularity, out for drinks and meals at a charming local hostelry, and we have met new people, and they have asked us out for drinks, and to celebrations, and then there is the little matter of the once-a-month quiz night, and half-price champagne on Thursdays, so there you have it, gradually, eventually - my full confession.

I haven't blogged because I have been too busy enjoying myself.  In the PUB, and if you've missed me, TOUGH, because we are most probably going there tonight, for me to drink half-price champagne - again.  Live with it!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Counting Chickens

I haven't wanted to post about anything for ages.  This is because a) there has been precious little spare time even to think about writing, let alone embark on any b) everything is so up in the air and c) The Husband has been at home with me since knocking off o'clock on Maundy Thursday, until today.  This is the first morning for twelve days that I haven't woken up with him either beside me or very nearby.

Yes, The Husband and I live in each other's pockets. And that fact doesn't embarrass us one jot.  First time around we were both married to spouses who had time-consuming interests which overrode most if not all other considerations in their lives.  In the case of The Daughter's Father this was His Work.  In the case of The Husband's First Wife this was The Theatre. Their life partners, families and most of their friends took  an indubitable and rather ignominious lower place in their busy, busy lists of Things To Do. In TDF's case there was also Cricket (Playing and Watching) which took care of Saturdays and/or Sundays from April to September, except when were abroad.  Mix in Listening to Radio Four and Saying Shush as a third activity or hobby, and you can imagine how lowly a handmaiden your author was made to feel for most of the twenty years we were together!

So if The Husband, my new and greatly improved husband of the past eight years, is off work, I am with him or alongside him 90% of the time.  He likes it like that. We are nauseatingly happy with the arrangement, like proverbial pigs in shite.

The bit about everything being up in the air still pertains.  I can't get high enough up to get a good perspective on how things lie, as a result. We have had and accepted an offer on Our Ma's house which - if IF IF it goes through to exchange of contracts and completion - will see her with enough in various bank accounts invested in a number of ways with a mixture of risk to be comfortably ensconced in the residential home we have installed her in until she's 100+ if need be.  But I don't count chickens, do you?  So pretend you haven't heard what I have just said, please, as I don't want to jinx the transaction.

As for being too busy to think and write, I am hoping that this won't be so now, as we have got into the swing of our new routines, of work and play and eating and drinking and visiting Our Ma, and with The Husband back earning our daily crust I have some contemplative moments to fuel my typing on here again. So you may well see a little more activity from Goldenoldenlady, but I am not promising anything.  I rarely promise faithfully, as - like with counting chickens - I can't see round corners.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Sheep May Safely Graze, but for How Long?

I had a stricken e-mail y’day from  our lovely next-door neighbour in mid-Wales to say she’d just heard the field immediately behind our houses had been sold, so now she is dreading what may be done with it, if all or any of it will be built  on, etc, etc.  She loves the may tree as so many birds congregate there (see the photo on my blog page - above - for the very tree, with a contented sheep in its shade), and I love the ponies and the sheep when they are in the field, and of course we all love our uninterrupted rural views.  I am trying not to get too down-hearted but it was a bit of a shock to add to the general stress levels of our life as it is at present.  I’ve replied not too fret too much but keep an eye out for any planning applications, especially for housing with nothing affordable for local young people.

Hey ho!  It seems it never rains but it pours when life is stressful...

The Husband says if they fill the entire field with houses and ruin the view we can get a little  house in town and a flat on the coast when he retires instead

We’ll work something out.  But it’s much more grim for Our Neighbours as it’s been their home for decades and it’s their only property.  Fingers crossed for them, eh?

Friday, 8 April 2011

And The Beat Goes On...

There's a certain rhythm to my life just now.  It's a gentle, insistent, percussive beat and it has the effect of driving everything forwards.  Not too fast.  Not too slow.  Just onwards and towards.  Towards what?  Ah, well, there's the rub.

Because towards and forwards is the future, and what shape and form that will take none can tell.

For many years I've liked the Islamic attitiude to the future tense.  A devout Muslim doesn't use it without In šāʾ Allāh (إن شاء الله) of which the Christian equivalent is God Willing.  Or DV for short (for the Latin).  Even if one has no God at the centre of one's life it does no harm to hesitate before using the future tense.  Ooop North, where I come from, older people mention their future plans and add "If I'm spared..."

We are having to do a lot of planning, The Husband and I,  but there is no point setting our hearts on an exact outcome as there are just too many variables. Too many unknowns.  Too many things utterly outside our control.  At the moment I am doing my mornings in the morning, my afternoons in the afternoon, and my evenings in the evening, and tomorrow can take care of itself.

This afternoon I have packed to go away for the weekend.  The weather forecast is good.  The roads will be dry.  We should have a nice time.  We will see Our Ma in her care home on the way out of town, miss a day whilst we are in Wales, and see her again on the Sunday afternoon.  In šāʾ Allāh.  That is a lot for one weekend. 

It's enough.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Here Comes the Sun, doo-di-doo-doo

I'd love to have been able to blog about something other than the care of the ageing/aged and residential homes and the funding thereof lately, but it's a bit difficult at the moment to get my head out of the morass of thoughts that such a huge issue creates.

However there is another Big Thing happening this week and that is the sun is back.  Not a weak or  half-hearted spring sun peeping out between clouds, but a full-throated roar of pure unadulterated sun, a summer sun, like June come two months early.  The temperatures in the Northern Home Counties hit the 20sC yesterday, and look set to pull off this marvellous feat for the rest of the week - including the weekend, which is so nice for all the poor Wage Slaves.  Better yet is that the same sorts of temperatures are expected in mid-Wales, so The Husband and I are planning to go to our house there this weekend for the first time since early March, and with a following wind and a good shove, he may even find it dry enough to cut the grass there front and back before it becomes a buttercup-studded hay meadow.

The Husband will also get his haircut, as a #1 buzz cut all over costs roughly half there what it does here, so he can have it done and add a generous tip and still come out with change from what he'd pay locally here.  The same goes for a round in a pub, not half, but perhaps 2/3rds of SE England prices. Add to that the vastly superior neighbourhood and community feel, the pleasantries in the shops and the more courteous driving habits of the locals (and the huge wide open spaces of high hills and oak tree planted river valleys) and you get a little bit of heaven on earth.  And we have a house there.  How good is that?

Our little house is the third one down of the staggered terrace

We will be retiring there one day, when The Husband calls a halt to going out to earn Our Daily Crust.  Meanwhile we do what we call practice runs for retirement, where we potter about and do a spot of light gardening and spend an afternoon on desultory small market town shopping and then in an unhurried way cook what we have bought and eat it. One or two tasks stretch out most agreeably to fill the time allotted to them, and then it is the hour for the sun to set.  If it is warm enough we can sit at our outside table with a last glass of wine and watch it slip slowly behind the hill, suffusing the valley with pink and orange and tinting any clouds a vivid yet delicate purple.

After that there might be an hour of something from iPlayer on the laptop, and So To Bed.

Blissy, innit?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

What Else Can Any of Us Say?

I have just sent the following e-mail to The Husband's Sister

Our Ma was fine when we saw her (new hair do, clean clothes, not smelly) at 3.00pm, but she was very confused about why she was where she is and how long it might last, so I have typed and printed the attached letter* and will stick it down on the top shelf of her walker with a sheet of clear adhesive plastic when we visit tomorrow.

She is tending to hunker down in her room except at meal times, we think, so we jollied her along with her walker to the TV lounge when we arrived and got her a nice cup of milky coffee.  A couple of the ladies sitting near her were less lost in their dementia than some of the others.  One in particular is quite switched on except for some random language and memory “brain farts”.  They all love The Dog. He’s a real asset to break the ice.  A few of us got very chatty.

She is doing OK.  You are NOT to worry.

We have removed all the family silver from the house, so don’t panic if you call in there.  We have left some background heating on to stop the place getting damp.  We will gradually get rid of any perishable food and get it into the dustbin ready for collection this week.

* Dearest Our Ma,

You are in a beautiful residential home called -------------------, which  [The Family] has chosen for you after a thorough search.  We think it is the best in [town] and we are sure you will be very happy there. 

Your Room is Number 5.  It is very comfortable and it has a nice bathroom attached.  You have plenty of clothes in the wardrobe and the chest of drawers if you need to get changed.  There are lots of lovely ladies who work there caring for everybody who will make sure you have everything you need.

You need to be there for at LEAST a WEEK, because the lift at your house is broken.  The engineers have taken it to pieces and are trying very hard to find spare parts for it, but it is difficult because it is so old now.  You cannot live in the house if the lift is broken.  It is too dangerous for you to use the stairs.

We will visit you EVERY afternoon.  We are looking forward to seeing you. We love you VERY much

Home from Home

Our Ma is now ensconced in the Residential Care Home of our choice.  The Family's choice, that is - not including Our Ma. When one gets to ninety-three and a half and has the short-term memory of a goldfish circling its bowl (yes, I know that's not what scientists say about goldfish these days, but the metaphor is too good to part with on the grounds of scientific accuracy) then one cannot be a party to any decision that involves comparing and contrasting, or even an explanation longer than - say - three brief sentences, as by the time the middle and end part of the process are reached the beginning is utterly lost.

So she has been presented with a fait accompli, and By Jove! how swiftly and decisively has The Family accomplished "the thing which is already done".  It's less than a fortnight since the dreadfully taxing day when we realised the time had come to move towards the residential care option as a matter of some urgency, and now she is there.  Ensconced.

I packed her clothes, toiletries, medication, a few bits of adornment like strings of beads, one or two personal items for her bedroom, and some favourite photos from the sitting room, whilst The Husband kept her occupied with repeated reiterations and rehearsals of what was happening and why.  "A week's respite care whilst the engineers assess its condition and try to fix the lift". This is the wheelchair lift that was installed a quarter century ago when The Husband's father was paralysed after an operation to relieve pain and pressure in his neck.  Our Ma, when she was first widowed, called it The Cellar, and kept spare bottles of booze and mixers in it and used it like a dumb waiter.  Attagirl, Our Ma!

Latterly, though, she has been unable to use the stairs safely, for perhaps the past five years, and so it has been her sturdy electrical conveyance between the two floors of the house.  However it is now flaky and unreliable.  She spent a long spell trapped in it (with her carer unable to open the half door to let her out) a fortnight ago, and that, as they say was IT; the proverbial straw that proved to be the final unacceptable added burden on the backs of her relations.

I shan't add much more to today's blog, as this whole matter of settling Our Ma into her new place of residence and gradually filtering the information to her that No, she's not coming home again, is going to be ongoing for the foreseeable future.  How easily this will be achieved depends on Our Ma.  How well Our Ma can cope depends on a whole host of variables, not all of which, in fact few of which, we have any hope of controlling.  And I don't want to speculate and surmise, so I will cease and desist, Dear Reader, until I have something else to say

Friday, 1 April 2011

There's a Woman Lives Next Door to Us

There's a woman lives next door to us
For whom trees are "mess",
Their leaves are litter, I guess,
And dogs are just "noise"

She is doomed to champ at the bit
And occasionally loathe the place she lives
As she has lofty shady plane and sycamore
To the front, and behind beyond the end
Of our gardens a school field skirted
With elegant silver birches, more sycamores,
May and chestnut and a gnarled old oak..

I try to tell her, but you love the birds,
And feed them.  The trees are where
They live, and but for the dogs -
A terrier both left and right of her -
The neighbourhood cats would prowl and pounce,
Your garden their jungle,
Kill the creatures you feed
Not even for food but for fun.

But no, trees are mess and dogs are noise
And she has no peace (she claims)
Because how can she sit contentedly
Whilst all the while seething and clamping shut
Her mind, her jaw and her heart
At everything outside her control?

I wouldn't want to sit next to her
When she's watching TV,
Especially The News, would you?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The Husband & Our Ma
Mother's Day 2001

I took this the first time I'd seen my boyfriend, as The Husband was then, with his mother on Mother's Day.  We hadn't had our first digital camera long, so it may have been the first photo of her I ever took.  I think I got her, and their relationship, bang-to-rights at the very first attempt.  Beginner's Luck?

Here's a couple of more recent ones, with The Dog, and The Husband, on Christmas Day 2010.  We knew what day it was, but she didn't, I am afraid, even with the plate of Christmas Dinner taken to her as a clue...

She calls The Dog "the diddly dog" and loves him with a passion.  The fact that The Dog  (with one of his humans) can visit her any time and will be adopted enthusiastically by the entire home, is one of the many things that emboldened me to choose the place we found for her and place her gently in it without delayTwo more days now until Mother's Day 2011, and the last evening she will spend in her own home.  I am glad I will have the camera to hide behind if I get a bit teary-eyed and sniffly.  Barty has plans to take his new HD camcorder  (for the same reason, I think) but I am guessing with some fizz and flowers and choccies and lots of teasing and joking we'll get though it like we get through everything - by finding the funny side as a matter of earnest priority.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Lions and Lambs

I have just re-read my blog for 1 March 2011. Our Ma was refusing to co-operate and wait quietly with the carer who had found her on the living room floor so had (as per regulations) called an ambulance for expert lifting and a check over by the paramedic. She wanted to be dragged to her feet and left alone, roaring at the top of her little old lady lungs, "I can MANAGE perfectly WELL!"

Today, 31 March, she sits quietly at home, unaware - despite being repeatedly told - she is going to a residential home "for a week" on Monday. In like a lion, out like a lamb (I hope), unlike March which was quiet on the first and is leaving us full of bluster, shaking the darling buds of everything summat chronic and howling in the chimney.

Here she is up a tree on holiday in Portugal in the 1980s
I think I can safely claim she's now mostly 
out of her tree, but none the worse for that

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Husband's New Toy

The Husband has just today received off eBay a secondhand LCD projector that came with no manual.  As he's never daunted by the lack of anything as puny as mere "Destructions" or a pesky non-functioning remote control, he's got it going lickety spit, so can show anything off his pooter (DVDs, iPlayer, interweb, etc) and shine it onto a wall so it’s huge.  It's a bit fuzzy still, so I think the lenses need a damn good clean, but nevertheless our study is now his very own fleapit cinema. I’m going to have to get him some velveteen tip-up seats with drink holders and a sackful of microwave popcorn, I can see that.  And sell him cartons of orange juice from a tray tied around my neck.

It’s the first time he’s been childishly happy and excited for over a week, so even at a hundred smackers including shipping it’s paid for itself already as far as I’m concerned.

I've been so worried about him and all the Our Ma stuff.  I was wondering how grown up is it to have a daughter of 30 only a couple of weeks ago.  Now I'm thinking, how mature and terribly responsible does a chap feel when he puts his mum in a home?  

Too grown up, for sure...

Love's Young Dream

Our Ma was married in 1941 and widowed in 1995 (I think).  The children were born late on, after a bit of pioneering 1950s hormone treatment. 

After she’d been on her own a year or two, she started going out a bit to senior clubs etc, and met Toy Boy, who was about fifteen years younger.  They were a couple (trips out in his car, holidays, meals out, staying over at one another’s houses, lots of mutual support) for over a decade until 2006, when he decided to put his house up for sale to move out of the area to be nearer his family and then they were “just friends”.  Dumped at 89.  Can you believe it?  She took to brandy for a while to nurse her broken heart.  The transient ischaemic attacks started at the same time.  Toy Boy moved away the following year, and “joined another bowls club – I think he’s met someone new” as Our Ma surmised at the time.

We have decided we are not going to inform him of her change of address.  Or take his silver-framed photo with her to the home.  The Husband was polite to him when he was his mum’s b/f, but His Sister couldn’t abide him at any price.  The nicest thing for me about his going away was I got to know Our Ma properly for the first time, without her rather bumptious man friend there answering all her questions for her.

I asked the Home Manager if there are any romances there at the moment.  She said yes, there’s one.  Who knows, Our Ma might get herself another beau when she smells a bit less of poo!

In Which We Have to "Go Private"

We had to sign a private-only funding contract to get the bed we wanted in the home we all agreed on, as it is a privately -funded bed. The Manager tried all sorts of routes to try to help us, and spoke to her senior managers whilst we were in the room, to attempt to get us partial County Council funding for twelve weeks, but this county doesn’t have an agreement with them to have Social Services partially-funded long-term places.  She even offered us a “cheaper “ bed in another town nearby to tide us over and then bring Our Ma back here later, once the house is sold,  but we said NO it has to be this one and if necessary The Husband and I will take out second mortgages on our two houses to tide us over until Our Ma’s house is sold.  She was stunned by our devotion.

Had we gone for CC funding all they would be able to offer us is something like Home No 2,  where we were made most unwelcome and a man ranted at a lady in the sitting room all the time we were there.

When we visited Our Ma later afterwards she had taken off the shitty socks from yesterday (which her expletive deleted carer let her dress in this morning)  herself and loved her new slippers but had no recollection I’d given them to her this afternoon, to remove her Xmas pair for washing.

She will be CLEAN, given constant help with toileting, and round-the-clock company.  We even got to choose the colours of her re-painted walls, the new carpet and curtains.  She has a view over the garden and the pond, and from her window she can see the huge goldfish in the pond, and the manager is thrilled we will visit with our dog and she says the entire floor will adopt him as their own.

She will get a manicure and hand massage most weeks, all included.  I said she used to like a bit of lippy.  She will get it, every day.

When we arrived at 4.30pm The Husband paced back and forth and wouldn’t - couldn't - sit down while we waited for the staff meeting to finish so we could go in.  By the end of our meeting, an hour and a half later, he exhaled hugely and a immense weight lifted off his magnificent shoulders. 

She going to be HAPPY there.  It will cost HER (not us, her) approximately £3000 a month.  Swallow hard, Dear Reader.  We did.

The lady I noticed was crying on Sunday as we were shown round was the lady who died that night, in her sleep.  Her name was Lily and she was 93.  I said Thank you, Lily and blessed her soul.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

At The Hub of The Wheel of Life

I have news to impart.  Momentous to us, and yet an everyday occurrence looked at nationally or internationally.  A thousand old ladies or old gentlemen a day in the UK alone must be having these sorts of decisions made for them and about them.  Our Ma is going into a Home.

The need for residential care eventually has been long acknowledged, but the need has widened and grown and enlarged rapidly in the space of less than a week.  I said to The Husband, whose beloved mother Our Ma is, on Wednesday night last week after the mother and father of all days with her, that the time had come.  There was a splutter of oh buts, and surelies...? and then I said I am e-mailing your sister tomorrow.  We need another family conflab.

The meeting was set for Sunday at 1.00pm.  By 1.50pm we'd done our short list of local homes, drawn up by a combination of word-of-mouth recommendation and looking at websites and seeing how coy they were about visits without prior appointment when we phoned them.  Only one said, yes, come any time this afternoon.  So we went there first.  The others were more chary and asked we turn up at certain times or within certain hours, so they were put second and third.

What strikes a person as being a nice home must vary.  A hierarchy of criteria depends on each individual, I suppose, and many aspects need to be considered, condition of buildings, safety, security, aesthetics, atmosphere, staffing levels, general cheerfulness of staff, the size and design of building, the views from the building, the number of windows, etc, etc.  Bizarrely, all three decision-makers shuffled their criteria around privately in their own heads and came up with exactly the same positive or negative reaction to each place. The Husband and I agreed yesterday evening that as soon as we saw Number One we felt we'd found the right one already and had almost mooted calling off the search right there, but of course we had our sensible heads on as well as the hearts in our chests and so we agreed with His Sister when she said, well, we'll use that as the benchmark, as I logged the next Post Code into the SatNav.

No 2 felt shambolic and security was most peculiar.  We walked right in off the street as someone with the key code held the door open for us.  But at the end of the brief visit we needed the key code to get out.  The lady in charge that afternoon trenchantly disputed that we had come at the right time.  We thought she'd said before 4.45pm, she said she'd said after 4.45pm and to come back.  We didn't bother, the narrow corridors and general atmosphere hadn't grabbed us.

No 3 was a large brand-new purpose-built residential and nursing home on four floors.  Three rooms were empty on the privately-funded dementia (ground) floor.  Two had views of brick walls, one had a view of the internal courtyard garden (with no spring flowers!), but the corridors were wide and featureless and had NO windows.  Even we felt instantly lost and none of us have dementia - yet.  The whole place felt exactly as the though the architect and builders had just left, even though it had been open two years.  All the staff were uniformed.  It was bland, efficient, institutional and more like a hospital than any sort of home-from-home.  We were handed forms and a pen to apply for the third (less grimly bleak) room, but put them down and walked out, as a man, with hardly a word said between us.  I think we might have shuddered simultaneously.

So, at some speed, back to Home No 1.  We are definitely interested, I said, either in a temporary respite room or a long-stay continuing care room.  The same lady who'd showed us round the ground floor said, the long stay rooms are all upstairs.  We hesitated - we haven't seen upstairs...  Oh, c'mon, I'll show you now.

Even though this was a little sadder than downstairs, as the clients were further along in their different types of dementia and more lost inside them, and two poor souls were even on permanent bed care and quite evidently close to death, all the rooms had their doors open and were full of homely touches and it was a busy and friendly community.  We were even more convinced that Our Ma needed to be in a place just like this, and SOON.

The next day - just yesterday - two miracles happened.  I got a call from our No 1 Home, to say a room had become available "in the night" and we could have it in a week's time, after it had been redecorated, Then, even more astonishingly, Social Services rang me back and the lovely social worker who'd last seen Our Ma in the autumn spoke to me and said she could see us all that very afternoon to do an emergency assessment of Our Ma's needs and would also try to get the financial assessment done in time for her to move into the home on Monday 4 April.  "In record time" were her exact words.

These two things just don't happen on one day, within the space of minutes.  These things usually take week upon frustrating week, months even.  His Sister, when told, said somebody up there likes us.  I said the planets must be in a special alignment.  The Husband said that it just proved we were doing the right thing at the right time.

It was like pushing at an open door.

No, it hasn't escaped any of us that UK Mother's Day 2011 is the last full day Our Ma will ever spend in her own home, the house she has lived in for fifty-five years, near as dammit.  Although poignant to the point of painfulness to The Husband and His Sister, I see this as the third miracle, as we have the perfect excuse for a good send off on Sunday evening, with fizz and cards and cake and flowers. 

And a good send off she shall have, from her children, her pigeon pair, and their spouses.  We will wave her into the next - last - phase of her life happy in the knowledge that it is a Good Thing we do.

Our Ma and Her Babies 1956

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Puppies, Poodles and Pooches

The Daughter and I both call dogs "puppy poodles" irrespective of their age, size or breed.  We do it because we like the alliteration, and also because the word "puppy" is one of the most onomatopoeic we know.  It's soft like a kiss, it is warm like their tummies and sweet and small like their little souls.  All dogs keep the puppy that they were within them far longer than most adult humans manage to hang on to their childlike wonderment, and this recommends them above most humans in our mind.  We like the word "poodle" because it is idiotic, like the breed itself, (especially the standard version and larger), and yes, I KNOW they are very smart dogs, but their haircuts aren't and if you will persist with giving your poodles pompom tails the rest of the dogworld will always find them faintly risible.  All dogs have a touch of the idiotic clown about them, which is makes them the best company ever.  Hence the "poodle" in our favourite doggie phrase.

Pooch is another word with a kiss in it, and if one has a dog who needs professional grooming then in our family they have to have an appointment to be "pooched".  But best of all our dog-related words is "paw".  Of course other animals have paws, we realise that, but it's dogs that have left their paw prints on our heart, so it's a dog's paw we think of when we say it.

I decided a few years ago that the saddest two words (combined) in the English language aren't (as is often said)."if only...", but "sore paw".  Rehearse it to yourself, dear reader, and imagine the plaintively limping animal to whom the sore paw belongs.  There!  See?!  Am I right, or am I right?

The Daughter and Her Intended are going to be using all these wonderful words starting with P a lot more in their active vocabularies now, as yesterday they went to an animal rescue charity, filled out the forms and had their interview and were introduced to the dog the workers there assessed would suit them best, and whom they could offer the most appropriate help and home.  I don't believe in counting unhatched chickens, or unadopted dogs, so i am going to hold back from typing any more about this, except to say that, subject to acceptable references and succesful home check, they may be able to bring this particular puppy poodle home with them as soon as next weekend.

All I will do is cross my fingers, get The Dog to cross his paws neatly when lying down, and send up a brief prayer to the god of dogs that nothing happens to disappoint any of the three beautiful creatures involved in this adoption. 

Woof, arf, arf, ar-men.

POST SCRIPTUM  21.54  Sunday 27 March

The adoption is set to proceed.  A Grand-Dog has been acquired for Goldenoldenlady to dote on.  The new parents will bring him home next weekend.  His blog name will be The Handful, as he promises to be at first.  He pulls on the lead summat fierce, so much pent up energy and enthusiasm, but The Daughter has the Dog Whisperer books and she is determined to lose him his bad habits and give him the good life he deserves.

Friday, 25 March 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding

Hello.  It's me again, seeing what I can knock out in the last half hour of The Husband's working week before he gets in the and weekend begins.  He had a day off yesterday, and oh! how the sun poured down on our garden like pale liquid gold.  The Lodger took the afternoon off as well, all of a coincidence, and we sat on garden chairs on the lawn and shared a bottle of wine, a gentle leisurely sipping and chatting all overlaid with a joyful astonishment that March could be quite this warm.  So I am touch thrown out, temporally, by the day off, and feel like the weekend has been well underway since about Wednesday.  Not NOT the weekend.  A short holiday.

Lucky me, not being a wage slave, and having retired already in my fifties. Well you too can have my luck, but you have to have suffered from serious Bipolar I for two decades and had breast cancer in 2006 as well.  It's all part of the deal, I am afraid.  Still interested?

I have been e-mailing back-and-forth with the daughter about her July wedding.  She and her intended went to the Registrars with their passports this morning, and paid their fees (an eye-stretching amount for a 30-minute time slot) and tried to organise such music, readings and personal vows as they will have.  The registrar was stroppy about some of the words they wanted, saying some of it too closely resembled church vows (although there was a scrupulously studious avoidance of any mention of God) in including honouring and cherishing and staying faithful for life.  The Daughter asked me to help rephrase what she wanted, and I also downloaded part of a suggested humanist ceremony.  I came up with some acceptable synonyms for honour (value) and cherish (esteem or nurture) and added quite a few mentions of "always" to imply a determination to stay married for good and stay faithful one to the other.  She now feels their vows will have some dignity and solemnity, provided they are permitted.  I guess she has still to double check that.

As they are marrying on a summer Saturday in the centre of a city they are allowed only ONE reading.  Weekdays, they could have had three.  It's a conveyor belt, I tellya!  I suggested having the others at the lunch, but they might just let that go.  Her dad wants to say a few words about her at the lunch (that'll be jolly interesting.  We divorced in 1999 so I shan't be privy to what he wants to say until the words are out of his mouth).  The Husband (this one...) will be one of the witnesses and The Intended's dad will be the other, and his brother will be taking care of the ring.  Think that's it.  All done and dusted.

I have two best friends - one male and one female.  The male one is The Husband, for obvious reasons that should be plain to you if you have been following this blog with any degree of particular interest.  The other is The Daughter, my only child and all round Good Egg. To see her safely wed will be a Big Day indeed for this blogger.  Although all that is planned is a Small Wedding, the great love that will abound will enlarge it immensely.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Quote from The Daughter

Today I want to offer and leave you with just this, a quote from The Daughter (possibly not original, but no less droll and wise for all that) who works for a world-renowned humanitarian organisation;

"I love mankind.  It's people I have a problem with..."

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

See-Saw, Marjorie Daw

I have had a request to blog about the weekend, the one just gone which promised perfection and delivered it in spades, but I am still waiting for a photo to illustrate it, so cannot fulfil the order just yet.

Meanwhile I have been researching Vascular Dementia to pass on some basic information to a niece, who has kindly agreed to Our Ma-sit so all the more junior members of the family can attend a wedding in Spain in early August, but still leaving the matriarch with someone she can call on by phone as well as the professional carers who attend to her needs.  I found an excellent site, which also had pages on other mental conditions, including Bipolar Disorder.  I have Bipolar Disorder I.  Twenty-one years ago this month I was admitted for the first time onto a psych ward, at the age of 33, to be given rest and respite (asylum, in other words, from a life that had become so impossible to endure that my deluded mind was in a state of manic psychosis) and for the staff to be able to achieve 24-hour monitoring, and eventually a diagnosis and the beginnings of life-long treatment.

Today I am not going to keep a dog and bark myself.  Instead of offering my critique of the article, or my lengthy observations about it, I am giving you a link to the site itself.

It is the best single page of information on this condition I have ever read; clear, free of jargon, positive and ultimately full of hope.  In the 21 years since I have been diagnosed as seriously Bipolar I,  I have felt the mystery and much of the stigma surrounding such mental conditions gradually lift, due in no small part to the educational potential of the internet.

I hope by publicising this link I can lighten the darkness yet more.

Friday, 18 March 2011


The Husband will be home from earning our daily crust in about half an hour.  It's 15.34 now as I begin to type and he usually comes through the door somewhere between  ten and fifteen minutes past four, having started work between 07.45 and 08.00 (depending whether he and The Boss - his manager and good friend who has given him a lift to work and back for years - go via Tesco for doughnuts or other breakfastings).   I am sitting here with slightly damp hair (but dressed and shod) so in the time it will take to dry fully of its own accord I aim to have blogged and posted.  And be fit and filthy and ready to rock.  Because at 16.15 The Weekend Starts.  Thank Fortitude it's Friday.

Oh, and what a weekend it is shaping up to be.  It was already arranged that it would be our weekend with The Daughter and The Boyfriend, our turn to celebrate her 30th with them.  Only he has stolen a march on us all - in March, as well - and asked her to marry him.  So now  we are seeing The Daughter and Her Fiance for the weekend, and this is a very different matter altogether.  We had already decided to have tea in a world-renowned smart hotel near their house, but now the dithering about whether to go for the Champagne Option has kinda been decided for us.  As brand newly betrothed couples do not go to smart hotels and NOT drink Champagne, do they?  It would be unthinkable.

And then there is the showing off of The Husband's birthday present from his fond wife, your own Goldenoldenlady.  It's his birthday on 21 March, and has been in my mind for some weeks to get him a DVD camcorder, as in the summer we are going to see his niece married in Spain, and Our Ma will be quite unable to make the trip, so the occasion needs to be brought to her, digitally.  A recording of her granddaughter's wedding where she will ask who's that? and what's this? quite a bit (including possibly who are the bride and groom, again? as her vascular dementia means she forgets all about those people she doesn't see every day, or weekly at least). But then the betrothal bombshell landed and so a double reason for buying a nice bit of kit moved me to get a Full HD Memory camcorder, cos they are even better and smaller and have all sorts of bells and whistles, and anyhow I have only one child, one wonderful daughter and I feel it in my old bones and water that she will marry only once as well.  They just look set that way, this couple.

So The Husband and the Son-in-Law Apparent will have a nice shiny thing that goes ping and winks lights at them to play with on Saturday evening while The Daughter and I discuss flowers and shoes and 200-count cotton bed linen and who makes the fluffiest towels.  And The Dogs snores between us on the floor oblivious to the detail but very aware that all His Humans are exceedingly happy and isn't that nice.

Then Sunday we will rise, and walk the dog in the park, and have brunch before taking our leave.  If anyone else out there has a better weekend planned they must have won the lottery.