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...

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?