Friday, November 29, 2013

Nothing much has happened today

The garden has very few flowers now - only some miserable-looking remnants. But it's so lovely to be able to buy them: here, two bunches of alstroemerias for £6. Such a joy (as long as you don't worry about air miles and underpaid workers, which I do, somewhat). They're a week old already and should last for another week. So pretty.

I've been working steadily on my quilt, hand-quilting it in mainly-interlocking circles. It's very simple and quite pleasant and soothing but I hadn't realised quite how many circles it would take.  I feel like Penelope, sewing away at a never-ending piece of needlework, though in my case I'm not actually unpicking it every night. I keep getting to a corner and thinking that I must be nearly done and then finding a completely unquilted bit. (You're not creeping out of bed and removing the stitches, are you, Mr L?)

I bought a special pen to draw the circles (round a cereal bowl) - it's very clever because the ink fades away, though frankly it would be even cleverer if the ink didn't fade away quite so rapidly. I dare say it would be fine for machine work but, hand sewing, I keep having to stop to redraw the vanished line. It's either that or sew along the memory of a line: homeopathic quilting.

Is it going to be finished by Christmas? Well. There's a question. A Christmas snoozing-quilt is a fairly bonkers concept in the first place but it would somewhat have lost its point by January.

I can't imagine how long a complicated  quilt would take me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Beginnings and endings

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

A house which is basically the same as ours, in an adjacent street, was sold earlier this year. It was, reportedly, immaculate inside. This is it now.

This is the first time that a house in our immediate area has been demolished in order to build a bigger one. It hasn't happened in Edinburgh much at all.

It's rather unnerving to see that one's house is built of such easily trashed materials. That yellow machine pecked away on and off for a day, smashing walls and dislodging windows as if the house were made of balsa wood, and it was destroyed.

It's hard to believe that this is a financially wise thing to do, but presumably the owners think it is. I'm very glad that it's not happening next door to us: there'll be noise and dust and construction lorries for months, and the houses in that street aren't very far apart. I hope it doesn't give anyone else the idea to do it too.

Grandson and I went to the Botanics again today. He wore his Gruffalo jumper. ("Fluffy!")

We saw, among other wonders of nature, ducks.

Quack quack.

And I admired the boy in his springtime and the autumn garden in its berried beauty.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Minus one

Son and Daughter-in-law were in town and we met for lunch at the museum with Daughter 1 and the children. Grandson then had a little tour of the museum to make sure that everything was in order... .

... such as the trains whose buttons one has to press to make the wheels go round.

Later, Son entertained Grandson with a YouTube video of a sleeping dog being licked by a cat (or something). It seemed to be hilarious.

Granddaughter agreed.

Then some fairly wild activities took place.

You do need good muscles to do this for long - which Son did. Whenever he stopped for a bit of a rest, Grandson shouted "Again!"

So that was all very lovely except that we all missed Daughter 2 so much. (Sorry, world. But there it is.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunshine and cake

It's been a beautiful autumn, which is just as well for the surprising numbers of tourists who still seem to be visiting Edinburgh. I can't quite imagine how their travel agents sold them the idea of visiting Scotland in November. In fact they've been lucky, but it could have been cold, dark and rainy. (And not just in November... .) Still, we've all been basking in sunshine quite a lot. I wonder if they realise how fortunate they've been?

We had the Edinburgh family visiting as usual today.

Granddaughter beamed.

For pudding at lunch time we had vanilla slices and raspberries. I don't know if vanilla slices are known overseas, but they're pastry, custardy stuff and icing - in rectangles. Delicious! Grandson had eaten his main course (avoiding the broccoli) and was keen to get back to his toys but when he was promised cake, he decided to stay at the table.

However, when a chopped-up half vanilla slice with raspberries was put in front of him, he clearly didn't recognise this as cake and his little face crumpled in disappointment.

"It's nice," said his mum. "You'll like it. Mind you," she conceded, "that's what I said about the broccoli."

He did like the vanilla slice once he'd taken a bite. Another tiny piece of his education in the variety of cake is now successfully completed.

This was nearly a very nice picture of the pair of them.

PS I think I might be just slightly on the mend. Fingers crossed.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Look, immune system: would you kindly spring into action?
I'm normally blessed with (cross fingers, touch wood) robust good health. But I have been really quite felled with this cold and cough. Currently I've literally lost my voice - something that's never happened to me before. Mr L is living a life of blessed peace - or he would be if I didn't keep coughing. I'm very frustrated - I keep thinking of titbits of insubstantial but of course fascinating chatter that I would like to share with him but no: I'm silenced. It has to be something really interesting for me to make the effort of whispering it to him and then repeating the whisper because he can't make it out. And frankly, nothing I have to say really warrants this.
I keep trying to battle on (sales of paracetamol and Strepsils must have soared this week) but am in a state of shivering collapse by the evening. In this spirit of undefeat we went up town the other morning and bought a super-duper blow-up bed for when everybody comes to stay including my brother and his family and we need more than our three spare rooms. Grandson tried it out. However, it was blocking his car circuit so after a brief bounce he commanded, "Grandpa move it." Grandpa did.

Playing is such a serious business. I'd forgotten. He puts so much effort into his traffic play, patiently moving his cars, trains and tractors round an invisible track.

Look at that. A picture of concentration, not to say excellent eyelashes.

Thank you for all your appreciation of my splendid children. They are indeed lovely. That's why we miss them so much when they're far away.

And a special hello to Craig. Gosh. A male reader (or maybe, since he/she seems to be "Pat", not actually. Anyway, hello all the same). I think of you all as ladies with quilts and cats (and the occasional dog). Not that I don't like ladies with quilts and cats. Many of my long-term bloggy friends have lapsed into blogging only too infrequently or in some cases not at all (sigh). I recently discovered a whole slew... bunch... crowd... (what is the collective noun for bloggers?) of them on Facebook. So that's where you've been hiding. But Facebook's not the same as a blog, you know. Notes rather than an essay. Too easy.

Quite fun as an extra, though. My Facebook friends have suddenly doubled in number: another happy way of wasting time... .

Cough. Moan. Shiver. Enough, however. Tomorrow I'm GOING TO BE MUCH BETTER.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Practising to deceive...

Our new grown-up-children-Christmas system is that our children visit their in-laws every alternate Christmas. This is fine because it means that they're with us in the in-between years, which are also when my brother and his family visit from the south of England.

This year, therefore, we'll be on our own for Christmas. This is deeply odd, since not long ago we had our kids, my parents, my aunt and uncle and often a visitor of theirs - up to 14 of us. But Mum and Dad and my uncle and aunt have all died. However, we weren't fretting about our solitary Christmas Day. Daughter 2 would be coming up for New Year and there would be a little family party then.

Many many years ago - nearly 40 (gosh) -  Mr L and I got married. You will see, above, the order of service. Our Ruby Wedding is thus coming up on December 27. We considered having a party and then decided that we wouldn't bother. The children, after all, wouldn't be here; also various of our friends are widowed or divorced so - anyway, we just thought we'd have lunch out and then a lazy evening. We envisaged having a takeaway meal and watching a film on television. It would be fine.

Daughter 2 visited last weekend and she, Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 went up town on Saturday afternoon while the little ones stayed at our house. We were happy to look after them and didn't particularly wonder why the young ones were going into town.

When the offspring returned, they presented us with an envelope containing this invitation:

They had been up town to inspect the room they'd booked for a dinner at the hotel where our wedding reception was held. All the family, their spouses and my brother and his family will be there as well as (bonus!) Son-in-Law 1's lovely parents, who were planning a visit anyway.

Look how Daughter 2 has copied the printing on the original invitations and order of service! The "r" is a bit of an "n", the "u" is an upside-down "n", the "b" is a mirror-image "d" and she just invented the "y".

Daughter 1 had previously sneaked into the guest room where our albums currently are and taken a picture of the order of service.

I am very gullible. I never suspect plots.

What a nice one, though!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why I'm not going to Zumba tomorrow

Another day largely spent on the sofa. However, my illness isn't severe - just a very sore throat, temperature and general acheyness - and I plan to be Much Better Tomorrow. Possibly not quite better enough for Zumba, mind you.

Lots of my Zumba class really like Zumba-ing. "That was great!" they say. "I really enjoyed that! Didn't you?" And I say, "Ye-es..." because it would seem feeble to say, "Well, I really enjoy the moment when it's finished." It's not that I hate it. But I find it simultaneously quite difficult and rather boring - not a winning combination. I do it because it's good for me (at least I jolly well hope it is) and not horrible. It's not that I'm lazy; but I prefer exercise that allows me to muse.

Our Zumba teacher is a very pretty girl and extremely graceful. She acts out the dances, smiling charmingly. I imagine she would have quite an effect on a class of young chaps but even for us elderly ladies, it's quite winning.

While it's been tedious to be unwell, it's been so lovely not to have to drag myself to work. You can't be off work if you're a teacher so you keep going on adrenaline. Possibly this would work for Zumba also but I think I might not try. Don't want to encourage a relapse.

Poor little Grandson has been vomity today. He's had a sofa day too: lots of books and Postman Pat on the television. I'd like to visit him but don't want to infect him or his little sister or, come to that, his mum and dad (though I suspect I got the bug from them). I hope he's better tomorrow too.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The view from here

Yesterday: Grandson went to a fancy-dress party dressed as a pirate. Yo ho ho.

Today: I'm ill! I'm hardly ever ill. Here's the view I had during this rare sofa day. The cats were pleased.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eggs and died foot

Just for Thimbleanna - my quilt is coming on, thank you, somewhat hindered by Cassie, whose ambition is to sleep on it. I still have quite a few circles to quilt and then I need to bind it. Will it be finished by Christmas? Certainly. (I hope.)

Now: a sequence from this afternoon.
1) Granddaughter plays with rattles and things. Notice particularly the one at the apex of the triangle of toys: a sort of drum-shaped rattle with red ends (and bells inside).

2) Grandson approaches.

3) Grandson picks up the rattle and gives it to her. "Look, [Granddaughter]," he says. "A egg. A nice egg for your breakfast."

So interesting (and, I realise, so normal) to see interaction plus imagination - imagination based, I think, on Mog (the cat created by Judith Kerr. Mog liked an egg for breakfast).

Later on he picked up the smaller of his two Thomas the Tank Engines and gave it to her. "A little Thomas for you, [Granddaughter]," he said. "You can eat it." And she had a jolly good try at doing just that.

He spends a lot of time making vehicles go round and round the coffee table, inching them along in sequence.

Occasionally he stops for a snack, sitting on his little chair. Milk and died foot*.

* Dried fruit

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Autumn leaves

 It is so much easier...

to take photos of a sitting baby...

... than it is to get...

... the perpetual motion machine that is Grandson...

... to stay still long enough...

... for me to get a decent photo of him.

But what can you do?

As you'll see, it's autumn here. On the drive from his house to ours today, he chatted away as usual about the cars, buses and lorries and - his favourites -  the traffic lights: "Red light! Stop! Green light! Go go go!" We passed through the Meadows - an area of parkland with grass and trees - and, ever the teacher, I embarked on a little nature talk. "Look at the leaves," I said. "They used to be green, didn't they? Now they're turning yellow and red and falling off the trees."

There was a pause while he processed this. Then he said, "Traffic lights fall off too?"

There is a certain logic to this, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Eight glass dishes sat upon a stall...

Thimbleanna asked what I bought at the antiques fair. I shouldn't really have bought anything because we have enough stuff already; but I do have a weakness for Things. Not handbags, not clothes, not meals out; but Things. I particularly like old things with some history attached, as long as they're not too scruffy.

In the picture above is a glass bowl that was in my mother's house and I think was my grandmother's originally. I imagine it was part of a set. I think it's from the 1920s or 30s. Anyway, I really liked its plain shape and little round feet and I liked floating a flower in it. But alas, it came to grief a few weeks ago when something fell on it in a cupboard. So I was kind of looking for a replacement, though not expecting to find it.

To my delight, we came across a very similar bowl at the fair, though its feet are green instead of colourless. I couldn't resist buying it. Here it is, with three early polyanthuses in it.

There was, however, a snag. It was being sold in a set of 6 and I only need one (though as Mr L says, we have spares against the next time he's getting things out of cupboards and has an accident).

Worse, it turned out that 2 similar though slightly different bowls came with them as a job lot. These ones have engraving round the sides, which are vertical instead of sloping.

If anyone in Edinburgh would like a bowl or two, just let me know! I could of course use them for desserts but I really don't need any more dishes. I shouldn't really have bought them but, well... .

We also bought two Thomas and two Peter Rabbit plates to be used by visiting small people.

We didn't buy this chair, though it's relevant to what we did buy. When I was a little girl, this chair and others like it were used in our Sunday School for the three-year-olds. Thirty years ago, they were replaced by chairs that stacked, and these ones were sold off. I managed to buy one (they were popular) and now Grandson sees it as his chair.

This slightly bigger one was also from our Sunday School and bought at the same time. I'd always thought that I'd like a third, so that each of our children could have one for their grandchildren in due course. (I like to plan ahead.)

So of course when I saw this chair at the antiques fair, I had to buy it. They're used as plant stands just to keep them out of the way. Once we have more than one chair-sitting grandchild they can be brought into service.

I didn't of course need any of these things.

I blame Shakespeare. We studied "King Lear" in our final year at school and one of Lear's speeches has always stuck in my head:

O reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is as cheap as beast's.

As far as I remember he was talking about servants; but it applies just as well to glass dishes. What is life if you can't have a bit of stuff you don't strictly need? And applying William Morris's beautiful-or-useful principle: my glass dishes are pretty (maybe not exactly beautiful) and could be useful; the children's plates are useful; and so is the chair. So it's fine!