Friday, September 30, 2011

Flowers and things

The lovely flowers that the bride and groom gave me at the wedding are still reasonably fresh.

Bits of Daughter 2's bouquet are still blooming, amazingly enough.

But it's been a bad couple of weeks - missing Daughter 2 so much but also worrying about my mother, who's been diagnosed with cancer. I didn't blog about this before in case Daughter 2, on her honeymoon, read this. Mum will have an operation the week after next to remove part of her bowel, a serious procedure for anyone but especially an 89-year-old.

It's been a beautiful week of Indian summer and the pair of us went to the Botanics. Mum is being very stoical but clearly expects the worst.

The nerines were stunning.

Son dropped in yesterday afternoon to accompany us to hear what the surgeon's going to do.
It doesn't sound fun. The procedures leading up to this point haven't been fun for Mum either. We've spent a long time in various hospital departments.

Son and I went for a walk in the park. It was very sunny.

Mum is going to move in with us on Sunday even though her flat isn't yet sold.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Here we go again

Still don't have the official pictures while the bride and groom are honeymooning. This picture is from my brother.

Yes, I'm the dumpy person in blue looking as if she doesn't like having her picture taken. Or wearing high heels.

Moving on...

Two exchanges from yesterday:

1. I was at the mini-supermarket, standing still in the middle of the aisle, when a severe lady looked at me as if wondering what I was doing.

Me: I'm just trying to think what I came in for.

Severe lady [severely]: You should have a list.

Me [humbly]: "Yes, you're right."

Severe lady: "I don't have a list either."


2. I'd just come back from the dry cleaners with Daughter 2's wedding dress and was still weak at the knees at what it had cost to clean. (I did remember that Daughter 1's dress was expensive, but not that expensive.) I climbed out of the car and said hello to my neighbour, whose daughter has just got engaged.

Neighbour [over hedge, seeing me carrying dress]: You still doing wedding things?
Me: Do you know how much it costs to get a wedding dress cleaned? £75!!!!!!
Neighour [blenching - it's not often that you get the chance to type that word]: I was thinking we might buy a dress for about that much.
Me: [laughs uproariously but with a touch of pity].
Neighbour: So that's just the small change, is it?

Kind of. Still, she did look lovely.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our church is very green...

Some of the reasons why our recent family wedding was a bit complicated.

1. The bride lives in London while the wedding is in Edinburgh. The bridesmaids live in 1) London 2) Cambridge 3) Edinburgh.

2. The bride didn’t like any dress available in Edinburgh or London so one was made by a dressmaker in Edinburgh. (Let me remind you that the bride lives in London.) It’s not that she’s difficult, but she wanted a non-strapless, non-plunging dress, which doesn’t seem to exist in shops.

3. One of the bridesmaids, Daughter 1, was pregnant for most of the lead-up to the wedding so her dress had to be made, shortly before the wedding, in material to match, as far as possible, the other bridesmaids’ dresses.

4. The groom, an actor, was in Edinburgh for much of the previous month, busy doing improvised musicals, so therefore nowhere near the bride.

5. The bride works in a 3-person architecture practice, one of whom (the boss) is hardly ever in the office. She therefore single-handedly designed a restaurant which opened the week of the wedding and also a shoe museum. Thus she was in the office till 9 o’clock most evenings.

6. She was nonetheless a perfectionist regarding to the artistic details of the wedding stationery.

7. She therefore designed the invitations, drawing (on the computer, using a special architect’s program for drawing things) a leaf pattern to be used (with elegant variations) on every single related piece of paper: thank-you letters, place cards, menus, table plan… all of which had to be printed out. In aqua ink. On our computers. On special paper. Mainly in the day or two before the wedding. With the assistance of cats.

8. This included having badges with fun facts about everyone pinned to the back of the place cards (which each, of course, had the person’s photo on them, culled from various sources.) This, for 100+ people, requires a lot of organisation.

9. As for Daughter 1’s wedding, I arranged the flowers in the church and for the reception. This had to be done on the evening before. The church is a fourteen-mile round trip from our house. I just had to pray that they didn’t collapse overnight. (They didn’t. Above, flowers in the font. Below, flowers on a stand.)

10. As for Daughter 1’s wedding, Daughter 2 and best-friend-bridesmaid made the bouquets on the morning of the wedding. This was all quite fun but really quite messy.

11. They also decorated the cake on the morning of the wedding. I think some girls visit the beautician on such an occasion. Ours dealt with rose thorns and discussed the exact shades of ribbons for the cake.

12. There were quite a few people around the place, all needing to be fed. Which was nice. But also quite time-consuming. Which is why I couldn’t go to the church to arrange the flowers till the customers had all dispersed. Flower arranging started at 9.30 pm.

13. I’m sure I could think of some other little facts – the time that Mr Life and I spent picking some of the pink bits out of the table confetti because the proportion of pink and aqua wasn’t quite right comes to mind, for example – but I expect you’ve heard enough about the wedding for now. I’ll show more pictures once you’ve recovered from this post. If you're very lucky.

(Photos by my big brother. Thank you, bro. I didn't actually take any pictures of the flowers.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A week after the wedding

It was only a week ago. It seems much more. They're having a lovely honeymoon. Which is good. But we do miss her. Mr Life was very reluctant to give her away. I felt the same. Still, she was happy.

Friday, September 23, 2011


How do you feel about sleeping?

I'm not very keen on it really. It seems such a waste of time to spend a third of your life - well, somewhat less in my case - unconscious. Not that the cats seem to worry about this sort of thing. Indeed, catching them awake is quite a skill.

I think it's more than that, though. I find sleep a bit of a struggle. I have to read until my head is nodding a bit, usually till about 1 or so, but then the process of putting the bookmark in the book, laying the book on my bedside table and switching off the light tends to wake me up again. So I lie there, bored, for a while, or listen to the radio via my under-pillow loudspeaker. Usually it doesn't actually take very long to get to sleep, but I don't like lying there in the dark for any time at all. And then I always wake a lot during the night and look at the clock. Often I wake about 2 and then 3 and then 4, 5 and 6 and by then, I'm relieved that it's nearly morning at last.

And anyway, I don't like the idea of being asleep, lying there vulnerable to any passing intruder. It's all very tedious and I would prefer that we were designed just to lie down for a wee while with our eyes shut, listening to something on the radio which preferably isn't news of all the depressing things going on in the world, ready to spring up in case of burglars.

I suppose I should have been a cat. That's more or less what they do, give or take the radio or the eagerness to confront burglars.

Today's been lovely and mild and sunny and I spent most of it gardening (oh, how much better than marking). At one point I came in for a little break and lay down on the sofa in an S shape, avoiding the furry friends who were occupying most of the space. Well, not most of the space. But the bits I might have wanted to put my head or feet on. And Sirius got up and lay with his side against my head and his head nestled in my hand, and purred. And I dozed lightly for fifteen minutes till someone sent a text to my phone in the adjoining room, which roused me. That's the kind of sleep I like. Just a light nap, with cats.

But some people say that they love sleeping. Can't understand that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another kilt for Anna

Urgh, it's been one of those weeks. I haven't had time to visit most of my favourite blogs or even to look at Mr Life's photos of the wedding. Frustratingly, the official photos were taken by a friend of New SIL and for some unaccountable reason she probably feels that the happy couple should see them first... . The HC are on a Greek island in the sun. I'm sure it's much like autumnal Edinburgh. Or not. Anyway, here are the three bridesmaids (Daughter 1, Best Friend and my lovely niece) with the bride. And the bouquets, complete with hastily tied ribbons.

So these are my rubbish photos but look who came to his first wedding, in a special wedding outfit and a Very Silly (but cute) Hat. The hat came from friends in Spain. Maybe Spanish baby boys are more in touch with their feminine side than ours tend to be.

And here's my nephew being silly with his sister's bouquet. He's half-Scottish and half-American but he wears the kilt well, despite its being my brother's old kilt, bought when he (my brother) was 20 or something. Kilts don't date, though as Nephew complained gently, he is built on rather more hunky lines than my skinny brother.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Some of the things that happened before the wedding

A few days before the wedding, there was a working party to assist with preparations. He whom I must now call Son-in-Law 1 lent his services to the operation.

Daughter 2 and Son-in-Law-2-to-be made place cards with photos of the guests on the front (and their names on the back) and, attached to these, a badge with a fun fact about them. This was extremely time-consuming. But quite amusing.

Here are, therefore, some of the guests' pictures.

On the morning of the wedding, a bridesmaid's chap makes toast.

His bridesmaid lady friend makes the bridesmaids' bouquets. To put herself in the mood, she wears Daughter 1's wedding tiara.

Now they make the bride's bouquet, while the bride, still in her pyjamas, achieves elegance by wearing her own tiara-type-thing.

Done. Well, apart from the ribbons to be wound round them, which we forgot about till the wedding car was sitting in the street. There was then a bit of an unseemly rush.

Son is subjected to a tiara. The flowers still in the buckets are for buttonholes.

To be continued. When I get a moment. My moments are currently rather full.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The new Mrs P.

Daughter 2 got married yesterday. Here she is with one of her bridesmaids, decorating the cake.

Here is my niece, another bridesmaid, folding orders of service.

The wedding was lovely but complicated. The guests were mainly architects and actors so artistic considerations had to be adhered to at all times and production values had to be high. A lot was achieved by d-i-y rather than vast expense; though expense did also feature. None of this was conducive to a tidy house.

Various house guests came and went. Much tea was drunk and food consumed. Many dishes were washed. Much washing of sheets and towels has been done and much still remains to be done. Ribbon, paper, flowers and other remnants are all still in evidence.

A few tears were shed, though not by the bride or groom.

Miraculously, the sun shone.

More will follow, including possibly some pictures of men in kilts for Anna.

Now I must go and have a restorative bath.

(Two weddings down, one to go - Son gets married next July. He says that his wedding will be less exhausting.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The unsatisfactoriness of some aspects of life

This is the garden last year. See all that yellow coreopsis in the big flowerbed? It was spreading and choking all around it, so in the autumn, with great toil, I dug every bit of it out.

And this is it this year. Hmm. I think I must have missed a bit.

Nothing really to say except it's hard to forget that September day, 10 years ago yesterday. We remember it as a family because Daughter 2 was in the air while the hijackings were taking place. Fortunately she was on her way to Sweden. So many others were not so fortunate.

I wonder what the chances are that this is being read by the person who kicked off Son's young lady's wing mirrors from her parked car some time overnight on Saturday? No, I don't think so either. I wonder what satisfaction it gave this person. She's a hardworking young doctor who has to drive 30 miles to the hospital she's working at just now. Hard to fathom.

Lots of things are hard to fathom, aren't they?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The advantage of being a baby is that, when you're tired and weary from having your nappy changed, you can just shut your eyes and have a nap. Dreaming, maybe, of being a ballet dancer.

The advantage of being a parent is that you can dress your baby up as an elf and it doesn't occur to him to object.

See his appley hat? This is what it looked like before. Daughter 1 made an apple stencil and applied fabric paints.

And.... snooze.

(Your lovely shawl is getting well used, Dianne!)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Out and about

On Monday, I went to Queensferry and had lunch with my friend J. Here she is, taking a picture of the Forth Rail Bridge. J lives in Queensferry and is very involved in the community. (J is not a large person - much of that black round her trousers is shadow, not her legs.) We had a lovely time.

I don't know if this is proverbial only in Scotland, but here we refer to an endless task as "like painting the Forth Bridge", since as soon as the painting is completed at one end, the painters have to start again at the other. However, no longer: a new, longer-lasting paint has been developed so that by the spring, it'll be finished and won't have to be done again for a few years.

So they say.

On the way home, I walked past this huge house that's being built fairly near where we live. I should say that our house is not far from a very posh area featuring mansions owned by millionaires. There was a very nice house here before, with swimming pool and all, but it was demolished and now this ridiculous great castley thing has been rising from the ruins.

As I passed, a young workman emerged, crossed the road (there's no pavement on the other side) and walked along near me. I engaged him in conversation and he said that the new owner had bought the previous house for £2 million and that the replacement was costing £6 million. I can quite believe this since the building has been going on for ages and it's huge.

It's not actually leaning like the Tower of Pisa, as it looks in my picture.

I don't find it beautiful. And it seems very wasteful.

Was it later that day that Daughter 1 and I took Grandson to the supermarket? This is how I too feel about shopping.

Today we went to Dr Neil's garden at Duddingston Loch, but he didn't seem to be impressed by that either.

The weather has been discouragingly nice this week. I do hope it's not saving up its rain for Daughter 2's wedding next weekend.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


I suppose I must be biased in thinking that Grandson is exceptionally cute. On the whole, he's a very jolly sort of chap, which helps. Just think how handsome he'll be once his hair grows back.
I wasn't feeling jolly this morning when I made the mistake of phoning up the company to which I paid lots of money in AVCs (additional voluntary contributions) to supplement my meagre pension. I was just wanting to be sent some information but the lady kept me on the phone for half an hour, asking difficult questions. Some of these I understood. With the others - there's a limit to the number of times one can say, "Sorry, I don't quite follow that." I did gather that as long as I live to about 150 I might get a reasonable amount of the money back. I was a bit surprised to be told, by the way, that the average life expectancy of a woman who gets to 65 is 89. (Not 65 + 89, you understand. Just 89.) I really don't know if I can be bothered living that long. Not unless I can figure out how to work our new television.

It's annoying (I find) how I've become de-skilled over the years. When I was young, I was perfectly capable of switching on the telly. Now the thing requires the erudition of a systems analyst and I have to get Mr Life to do it for me. Which is why I watch hardly any telly now. No doubt this has happened because lots of smart young men wanted to make the whole thing more technically perfect, while people like me were quite happy just to walk over to the device and press a button to make a good-enough picture appear on any one of three channels. Who needs digital pictures and millions of garbage-carrying channels? Not me, especially since I can't access any of them without the old chap. I tell you, he'll have to live to 152 so as to keep me amused with moving pictures in my old age.

And cars - why can't they make them all the same? Well, ok, they could do them in a range of sizes (big, medium and small) and of course a good choice of colours. But I think that they should all be standard in other ways: all the controls in exactly the same places, for ever, and all with the same symbols so that I always know how to turn the windscreen wipers on. Why do they have to keep redesigning them?

Seems very simple to me. I think someone should put me in charge of Stuff.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

September arrrives

I've turned into one of those retired people who wonder where the week went. I don't think that Sirius, relaxing in the sun, is troubled by any such questions. Another question is: how come that I have such a huge pile of ironing, when I used to work full time plus an evening and do ironing for five of us and it never built up so much? Very mysterious.

Anyway, Grandson had the odd snooze in the course of the week. Oh, he's so yummy.

Another day, Daughter 1 and I took him for his first visit to the Botanics.

We're going to bring him up with an appreciation of gardens.

Yesterday, on one of the few nice days of the summer, Mr Life and I unaccountably decided to go inside, to the refurbished museum in Chambers Street. They've opened up the basement as a café so we had lunch far away from the sunshine.

All the publicity says that they've made more room for exhibits but it didn't look like that to us. It's now got lots of empty space - and then there's another eatery on the first balcony, where there used to be cases filled with stuff. Still, it's had a nice lick of paint. I'm sure there are deeper reasons why it's been closed for three years or something and cost millions of pounds.
I imagine there was something we didn't notice.

Anyway, it was full of families and they all seemed to be having a good time.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Furry friends

This post is mainly for my Son-in-Law. He, Daughter 1 and Grandson are down in Worcester so that Grandson can experience the other half of his genetic heritage and meet his extended family and friends. So we're guinea-pig-sitting. Brownie, Cupcake and Pumpkin are the most carefully tended guinea pigs in the country, with their diet scientifically controlled: it features supplements of vitamins (multivitamins and extra vitamin C), probiotic powder and cranberry juice. We take our responsibilities seriously and are following the detailed instructions to the letter. Look, SIL, here they are, capering about and perfectly happy. And yes, they're drinking. I've seen them.

We're also enjoying a flying visit from Son and his young lady. So far, they've eaten mainly toast.

And it's - well, not positively raining, but dull and damp. This summer's been the dullest and dampest since 1929 or something (this may be slightly inaccurate but 1929 came into a newspaper report somewhere). Anyway, it's been fairly rubbish. I met some nice people from Wisconsin yesterday and they said that their summer's been terrible too - so hot and dry. Truly the world has its variations.

And here's Sirius having a drink.

Having mastered (well, sort of...) my first tune on the piano, I've now started to practise "What a friend we have in Jesus", picked more or less randomly from the hymn book. Well, I did make sure I chose one with only one flat. But each hand has two simultaneous notes!! Very tricky! Chords, I suppose you'd call them. I haven't quite mastered this.

I recently read an article about Benjamin Grosvenor, a young British pianist, in which he said he practised for eight hours a day. This might explain why I'm not so good as he is. Possibly ten minutes every three days isn't likely to have the same effect. And I dare say I ought to be practising scales or something. Still. It's quite fun - in a very frustrating sort of non-fun way.