Thursday 31 January 2008

This is not funny!

Harry wishes to say: You spiteful little dog!

Bad Hair Day, Bad Bee Hat

Tosca wishes to say: This is the hat Suzy brought back from the States. It is deeply embarrassing to wear, so I am giving it to Harry.

It's wild out there!

I have struggled home in the windiest weather, having been to administer soup and sympathy to the sick, living 14 miles away on a wind-blasted village hilltop. I rang her before the mercy dash to M & S Simply Food: what did she fancy? She chose "a bland soup", (sorry, M & S, that means your leek and potato) adding in a pathetic little voice "and an egg custard....". Only this would make her feel better. Egg custard. Groooh. Everyone has some food of choice for when they are ill, but egg custard would not help me regain my health and vitality, no indeed. When I was a child, we knew we were properly poorly when we were allowed Lucozade, which was measured out in small glasses as though it was a magic potion. The orange cellophane wrapping was removed very carefully from the bottle and used to look through or wrap pebbles in to make pretend boiled sweets. Yes, we made our own amusement then....

Annie is recovering nicely, but the weather is definitely worsening; snow, sleet, rain, all lasting no longer than a few minutes as the gales lash us into submission. Nerves shredded, fighting to keep the car on the road, I noticed quite a few birds being blown about as they strained to get home to roost, and a small dog cowering behind the spindly post to which he was tethered outside a shop, looking the very picture of misery. That dog needs a coat, I thought, even one of those embarrassing ones with a peaked cap. Or a bee hat, like the one my dog ungratefully received from Suzy. See picture of bee hat and ungrateful wearers, above.

My house is whistling with draughts, and the dog has made it clear that she does not intend to be taken out for a walk, thank you. I suppose she will be getting enough fresh air indoors. My recycling box has blown away - my own fault for leaving it at the front door - which is quite a relief. Our council issued ugly black plastic boxes which did not have lids so didn't cope well with being left outdoors, and which did not fit in any normal cupboard indoors. So they became domestic trip hazards, universally hated and much complained about, and I hope no one finds mine and returns it.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Superstition and Sickness

Last week I went to Edinburgh to meet up with my sister Anne, who was recovering from a bout of cellulitis, which had put her in hospital for several days, on intravenous antibiotics for her infected neck and ear. Cellulitis has nothing whatsoever to do with the dreaded cellulite, oddly enough, and makes you very ill. If untreated, blood poisoning and rapid death are a possibility. Today I heard from my friend Annie that she had been stricken by labyrinthitis, a viral infection of the inner ear, and had been very ill too, and I am going to visit her tomorrow. I can hear the voice of my superstitious mother in my head: "Things always come in threes!" If true, this does not bode well for any other Annes of my acquaintance. Or could it mean a third person could be felled by pestilence as mercilessly as the Annes? Could it be me? Come to think of it, I do feel a little bit weak and feeble....

On the bright side, my convalescent sister and I had a delightful visit to the Botanic Gardens, where 50 yards inside the gates we were seriously mugged by a fat glossy squirrel who rushed up to us and tapped us on the legs. Cute, but a bit alarming; I have never seen such aggressive begging from anything that wasn't my cat Harry. Anne fell for it completely, and gave it some of the biscuits I had baked for her. Later a staff member told us how much of a nuisance the squirrels were, breeding twice a year, their numbers encouraged to rise by the public who insisted on feeding them. Anne listened to this, po-faced and shameless, and dished out nuts to the next gang of furry beggars.

Tomorrow I am taking lunch over to my sick friend. I may wear a surgical mask and gloves, just to be on the safe side.
Wishing for Spring again....

taken last May
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Tuesday 29 January 2008

How Not To Be a Slob: Today's Aspiration

So I've done it at last, started a blog, to help me make sense of this new life. Thank you, Roger, for the challenge of "I will if you will". I look forward to your own blog coming my way.

And what is the new life? It's retirement, which, because of health problems, came a year earlier than ever dreamed of. This happened in November 2007, although it was only after all the usual frenetic Christmas activity and the obligatory coughs and colds that reality began to dawn: I was free, I could choose what to do, and best of all,
I could slow down and find my most comfortable pace for living.

The first question - what will I do now? - came with a flurry of others: would a comfortable pace really mean life spent reading on the sofa, covered in cats? Could I avoid turning into a total slob, permanently clad in slippers and track suit pants, with an ever-spreading bottom? Would my friends, most of them overworked and always tired, learn to loathe me? Or did they secretly loathe me already, as I made worthy declarations that I would try to get dressed before 11 in the morning, or had a busy day ahead walking to the post office?

Some things began to happen while I wasn't looking. Weekends began to have the same number of hours as the other days of the week, after years of being too short, too full, too hectic. Guilt began to fade about papers unsorted, ironing piled up, phone calls not made, as time became available. Emails to friends became longer, and promises to visit became arrangements. A return ticket to Australia was bought, after 39 years of vague hopes of seeing my old school friend Tricia. My baking increased and improved, although I can still turn out a spectacular failure now and again.

Yes, I can hear some of you snickering, knowing that the unsorted papers and piles of ironing are still there, and that slippers and track suit pants are often my outfit of choice, sometimes fetchingly topped with a pinny. But the aspiration is there, and perhaps writing about my new life will help to shape it into something that can be productive without pressure, relaxed without sloth, and meaningful to me. But there will always be time for that sofa, reading, covered in cats.

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