Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Whistling Tortoise

This morning, Mr Life and I went to a splendid shop called "The Whistling Tortoise" - I've no idea what's behind the name but it sells more disability aids than I imagined existed - for example, a no-hands device to help you smoke your cigarette. That's a bit sad, don't you think? Anyway, we bought an adjustable thing to prop Mum up in bed (when she gets home) and an over-bed table/tray. Then we went for a walk round Stockbridge in lovely sunshine (sun two days running!). I don't know about you, but I often imagine what it must be like to live somewhere else: for example, I wouldn't enjoy having just a small flagged front garden but the above house obviously contains a keen gardener who crams as many pots into it as he/she can.

This is the area known as The Colonies. It's quite sweet, but not built for cars. Also, it's near the Water of Leith and of recent years, in the funny weather we've been having, it sometimes floods, which happened a week or two ago. You can see sandbags in the shadow on the right.

This is where they're trying to stop the flooding by building a big embankment which narrows the river. It doesn't seem logical to me - you'd think the river, if narrower, would be fuller - but according to Mr Life this will make the water scour the bottom of the river and thus make it deeper. Who knew? Well, someone, obviously. If they're right. Anyway, it wasn't finished in time to prevent the recent floods, alas.

It's a pity about cars, isn't it? This is a nice (and expensive) terrace of Georgian houses but it must be difficult to park outside your house and the cars don't really improve the view. I tend to think that cars should be banned from cities.

Not our car, of course.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Another day older...

This was Grandson yesterday. My excuse for posting a picture of him is that Nanny in Worcester likes to see him. Note Grandpa in the background, more interested in the Sunday Times motoring section than in Grandson. (He isn't really. Or only for a while.)

I took a photo of the sky at 8.30 this morning. It was encouragingly blue.

I then took some photos of the garden. Look, sunshine. Cassie helpfully posed to add aesthetic appeal. She looks here as if someone's chopped off her tail. They haven't. I assume she was swishing it.

And after what I calculated were my 97th and 98th visits to Mum in hospital (arrangements are still being made for her coming home) I photographed the sky again at 9.30 this evening. I do love the long, light summer evenings, though I suppose we're spinning round towards winter again.

So yes - nothing much happened today.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saggy pants

TATTOOS??? SAGGY PANTS??? HAT ON BACKWARDS??? (actually, that doesn't sound so bad).

Oh, my commenters, no no no. Grandson actually looks very like Son as a baby, so I'm assuming that he's going to grow up something like the above. (Though Grandson's dad is a handsome chap so looking like him would be fine too.)

On reflection, the photo above does actually feature saggy pants-with-the-British-meaning, doesn't it...? (see post for July 22).

The flowers came out quite well. Daughter 2 and I have developed into a wedding flower team: she does the bouquets and the small table arrangements and I do the bigger ones.

I think that's us finished now. Three weddings. That seems enough.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stripey suit

What a pity you couldn't pop along for coffee. Ah well.

I've been ironing while watching the Olympic opening ceremony, which struck me in parts as very engaging and in other parts as extremely odd - though hugely impressive in its organisation. But now I've finished the ironing and the athletes are parading in. They've only got to G (Germany) so I decided to leave them to it and look at photos of Grandson taken this morning.

He was wearing his stripey suit, as you can see. And a big smile.

Daughter 1 and I took him to a soft play place.

Isn't it hard to imagine him as a big hairy man?

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Today I went out for lunch with five friends and we walked along the River Tyne in Haddington. It was a lovely day though at the point that I took these photos, the sun had temporarily gone behind a cloud. We started teaching together in 1973 and in those days we used to talk about our chaps - most of whom are now our husbands. As years passed, the chat tended to be about our children. Recently it's been about retirement and our various aches and pains, growing deafness and - more happily - our grandchildren. Today, however, one of my friends shared her huge worry about her daughter, who has breast cancer which isn't responding to chemotherapy.

And of course we couldn't make it better at all except by listening and sympathising and hugging and hoping.

And I thought too about bloggy friends and your kind thoughts about my mum. Her illness of course isn't anything like as tragic as that of my friend's daughter, who's 35 and who has a toddler and a baby. But still, it's sad and though to non-blogging people the sympathy of sort-of-strangers would seem odd, we all know that it actually helps.

It's funny, isn't it, the sort of virtual Venn diagram of bloggy friends? Occasionally you click on a comment on one of one of the blogs you read and have a look at the commenter's blog and lo! - she's being read by some of the people you know and you never knew about this. And it feels a tiny bit as if they've been having a party to which they never invited you! It would be so good to have all your bloggy friends round for coffee - they wouldn't actually all "know" each other but really quite a lot of them would. If only... .

My place, tomorrow at 10.30, anyone? I'll make scones.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The young and the old

Daughter 1 and I took Grandson in to see Mum this morning but she was more or less asleep and we couldn't really rouse her so we came away again. When I went back this afternoon and evening, she was much more herself but only faintly remembered his visit. She was so exasperated that she'd missed him.

In the afternoon, I sought out the consultant and had a talk with him, and as a result I've decided to bring Mum home. They can't do anything for her in the hospice except for nursing and palliative care and I feel she'd be happier at home, with nurses coming in to help.

It'll take a few days to set this up and it all depends on her continuing to be reasonably conscious. But I feel relieved to have made this decision. I won't be able to do much in the way of normal activities once she's here but after all, what does that really matter for a few days/weeks/months?

Twenty years ago, we looked after my mother-in-law in our house for the last six months of her life - she too had cancer and had the bedroom that is now Mum's - and there was no help available then apart from the GP coming in. So we can do this. I hope.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Man in kilt

This is Son and DIL leading off the dancing at the start of the wedding ceilidh. Now, of recent years there has been a silly "tradition" - not traditional at all - that Scottish men don't wear anything under their kilts. I haven't conducted any research on this, you'll understand, but I seriously doubt that anyone sensible would fail to wear pants (or underpants, as I believe Americans would call them) in a kilt-wearing situation. Apart from anything else, men aren't so good at sitting with their knees together as ladies are; and also, this is Scotland and it can be chilly.

So you'll be relieved to know that Son was wearing his Wedding Pants.

These are boxer shorts that his big sister (Daughter 2) gave him before Daughter 1's wedding in 2006. I now can't remember exactly why, except that clearly everyone needs Wedding Pants. (They're green with red and yellow cars on them.) After the wedding, they entered his pants drawer and were rotated with his others. In due course they were retired - to be brought briefly out of retirement for Daughter 2's wedding last year.

When he inspected them before his own wedding, he found that the elastic had perished somewhat. However, you can't get married without your Wedding Pants, obviously, so he put them on and used a safety pin for - well, safety. And they didn't fall down.

They weren't on display so I didn't know that he was wearing them till later.

I think they might have served their purpose now.

PS: Having written this, I was struck briefly with doubts as to whether Son would like his underwear described to the world of Blog. So I texted him: Can I blog about your wedding pants?  He replied: Of course!  So I will.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ducks and non-ducks

I only have mornings free at the moment since afternoons and evenings are spent visiting my mother, so this morning I went to see Daughter 1. I took Grandson in his pushchair to Dr Neil's Garden by Duddingston Loch. We looked at the ducks - some of them were not really ducks but Canada geese or herring gulls, but I felt the ornithological details didn't matter much at the moment. He listened to them going "quack" and "honk" and "screech" and he smiled.

I feel so worried about my mother. On her good days, I feel that I should press to have her home, but on her bad days I'm grateful she's in hospital. Even on her good days, she's very confused but she wants to come home. Oh, the guilt and the uncertainty. What to do? But the hill is very soothing.

And Daughter 2 is still in London and I wish so much that she weren't.  

So things could be better. But for a while, with Grandson climbing on me with his rubbery little legs, beaming at the ducks and non-ducks, going "psssy" at Gus the Garden cat and looking all round with such appreciation and interest at everything - I felt happy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And the living is not all that easy

As I've said before, Scotland doesn't seem on the whole to have been so copiously wet as England this summer, but it's been grey and damp - hence this headline in the paper the other day.

And indeed, the sun did shine and I sat on the bench and drank a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, however - no sunshine. Mr Life and I decided to go for a wet walk in the Botanics, but it was slightly wetter than we'd bargained for. (This is a path, by the way, not a river.) We did get the place more or less to ourselves, though, which is always nice...

... and the herbaceous border was doing its best to bloom.

These pictures are for Nanny in Worcester: Grandson surveying his cake with enthusiasm...

... and then giving it his seal of approval. Num num num.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When I was one...

... I had just begun. To be more accurate, I began a year ago today. Granny feels that it's been an action-packed year, and not all in a good way. However, I cheer everyone up.

Unfortunately my Worcester Nanny, Worcester Gramps, Worcester Uncle, Auntie Daughter 2, Uncle Son and Great Granny couldn't celebrate in person with me today. But I had fun all the same.

And my first taste of cake.

I like cake. Num num num, as I remarked at the time.

Monday, July 16, 2012


It seems like only yesterday that my baby boy was born and now he's all grown up.

(And, for Anna, a picture of swinging kilts at the ceilidh in the evening.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wedding 3

The flowers are bought...

... arranged...

... tied into bouquets...

... and taken up to Perth yesterday.

Now the buttonholes need to be done and - let Son's wedding commence.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Look, we have curls

Conversations from my day -

Man on bus: "I've shaved today but I can't use aftershave because I'm taking Antabuse and the alcohol in aftershave would react badly with the Antabuse."

Woman in dressing gown, with cigarette, outside oncology ward of hospital: "I just can't stop smoking. If they make the grounds of the hospital a no-smoking area, I'm checking out."

Mum: "I can't have been in hospital for four weeks because I was in London yesterday."

It is, as my Granny used to say, a funny wee world.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The best medicine

The garden is very green and the plants are thriving in all this rain, though as I predicted the paeonies are getting sodden. It actually didn't rain today but it's grey and frankly rather chilly. I feel so guilty about all the soggy tourists who probably didn't come to Scotland to get a tan but who wouldn't have expected such consistently dreich weather.

Mum's been in hospital for over four weeks now. I go to see her twice a day so have notched up about sixty visits. The nurses (and I imagine the doctors as well, but I don't see them so much) are really lovely: young girls who spend their lives among these patients, a lot of whom have bald heads and are on drips and with catheters... not a job I would want, and they're so kind and helpful and sympathetic.

But it's so healing to come away and see Grandson busily crawling about and picking things up and trying to fit rings over poles and generally being so - new.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Life's ups and downs (well, downs, but let's put a positive slant on things)

Britain, as British people will know only too well, has just experienced its wettest June since records began and July looks as if it might be much the same. I think England has been getting more precipitation, by the pint, than Scotland, but we've had frequent steady drizzle or smirr (rain in the mist) with the occasional downpour just to ring the changes. Yesterday we had very heavy rain for a few hours and this is what the flowerbed about a yard from our front door looked like. Rather alarming, though I trust that the slugs which have been eating my pansies and lilies got a bit of a shock. I don't think they're good swimmers, though frankly I'm not sure that pansies and lilies are either. (You may be able to see pink stuff looming through the deluge round these nibbled plants - this is cat litter which I've put round them, on advice from a bloggy friend, and it does seem to discourage the little horrors. But I think it's a bit late for the lilies, which have been gravely chewed.)

 The cats do not approve of rain. Here they are yesterday, sitting on the crossword.  

Thank you for all your kind sympathy re my mum. She varies a lot from day to day. Yesterday she was sure that my dad (who died in 2007) was trying to phone her, she saw words written on the ceiling (there were none) and she tried to drink a cup of tea which wasn't there and got very upset when she couldn't bring it to her lips. Today she was less confused but was hopeful of getting to Son's wedding next Saturday. This is in a way worse since she isn't going to be able to go but doesn't see why not. And she's forgotten that it's been decided that she should go into a hospice, and is talking about coming home.

Yes, Son's wedding... . The timing isn't great. But life must go on.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


Well, I believe that America celebrated my birthday yesterday with its customary fireworks and flags - thank you, USA. Grandson celebrated by crawling around, standing up and smiling and giggling, which was very nice. He brought his Mum and Dad with him. Son was also here. Daughter 2, alas, was in London.

It was lovely to see them but otherwise life isn't too good.

("See, world, this is my shoe.")

I used to have a colleague who, when life got frantic (as if you're a teacher, it frequently does) would declare in despairing tones, "It's too much - it's all too much!" Which is roughly how I'm feeling just now.

My mum was supposed to get out of hospital yesterday, though I was very daunted at the idea of nursing her at home because she can now hardly walk and is very incontinent. We had the chair-for-going-in-the-bath delivered on Tuesday. We had the handrail-for-getting-up-from-the-loo installed today. But yesterday she was very sick and deemed not well enough to be discharged then but was expected to come home today. Then this morning she had a mini-stroke, was unconscious for an hour, and the medical staff now think that she should be admitted to a hospice.

Mum, who remembers nothing of this episode and feels relatively well, is stoical but very disappointed and bewildered by this. I feel desperately relieved and desperately guilty at the thought of her being looked after lovingly but not by me.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Baby in a blanket

This morning I phoned: the doctor (twice), the chiropodist, the district nurse, the private care company that we hope will help with Mum at Son's wedding and at other times, two different hospitals, the hearing aid supplier (one of Mum's very expensive aids has got lost in hospital, grr, grr) - was that it? I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get my life back. (Not soon, since Mum gets out of hospital on Wednesday.) 

But then I look at these photos, stolen from Daughter 1's Flickr page, and things seem much better. This too shall pass - the bad and the good. Though I don't really want delicious Grandson to grow up!

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Sometimes, when I fantasise about my ideal house and the wonderful view it would have, I ponder whether this would be of hills or the sea. When I was young, we lived near the sea and I used to find it soothing to walk beside the water and realise that the waves would keep on turning over and over when I and my troubles (what troubles? can't remember now) were long forgotten. Now I find hills more comforting, like the psalmist. Here is Grandson yesterday, with our city hill behind him. It too will long outlast us all, of course, and our concerns. Which is good.

We've just watched the film "One Day", which begins and ends in Edinburgh, partly on the hill above. I quite enjoyed it though Mr Life thought it was a bit unlikely. Well, yes. I can't imagine why they cast Anne Hathaway, who looks nice but had a dire English accent which became Northern from time to time and sounded most odd. There was also that thing where if you know a place, you get confused that the characters are walking along one street and then turn a corner into a location a mile and a half away. And they wore mortar boards at their graduation, which Edinburgh students never did at that time. But I liked the structure of the film, focusing on the same day every year (or nearly every year) as in the book.

Walking back to Daughter 1's house yesterday, I took a picture (it looks better to the eye than the camera) of the Pentland Hills, which also cheer me up. They're nearer our house - I often lift mine eyes to them when in our neighbourhood.

And this is the view of the Edinburgh skyline with the Castle on its own hill that I get twice a day from the path out of the hospital grounds.