Saturday, November 29, 2014

This petty pace

Daughter 2 is here this weekend; and Son and Daughter 1 and the grandchildren visited, so that was nice.

Grandson was dressed as Superman, though I don't think that he has any idea who Superman is. (Though does anyone?)

The blog world is very quiet these days, or at least my part of it, which is a bit sad. Many of the bloggers whom I used to read tend now to post very seldom. Maybe they do Facebook instead. I also enjoy Facebook, though have never got into Twitter. I think I'm too long-winded for 140 characters; it's a mildly interesting challenge to say something so briefly, but "Having a sandwich after an exhausting session at Zumba; think I might watch Bargain Hunt now" - no, I don't think so. With a blog, you can expand a bit. In my schooldays when they gave out pen pals, I always persisted long after the others - but eventually gave up when my foreign partner had been silent for a few months. I suppose I shall blog on meanwhile.

I don't mind quite so much when people announce their decision to stop blogging; I don't like it, but at least you know where you are. It's when they suddenly disappear that it's disconcerting. You've been reading about their houses and gardens and children and biscuits and dogs and then - boof - gone. I look at my list of favourites and think that I should strong-mindedly delete most of them; but I still click on them from time to time, hoping faintly that they might have written something.

It's surprising how fast things change. I used not to post until my previous offering had at least 15 comments; now this hardly ever happens. Not that I have much to write about in my retired life, which is perfectly pleasant on a day-to-day basis but neither so interesting nor so amusing as my teaching life - though a lot more restful. It's not boring, though, or at least, not boring to me. There's lots to do and, alas, lots to worry about.

The other day Grandson tried out sarcasm. His little sister wandered into his game and he said, "Oh, well done, [Granddaughter]. You've knocked over my road signs."

I think she's slightly too young to understand this approach.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From troubles of the world I turn to puddles

When you're one and three quarters...

... and have never splashed in puddles before...

... or even if you're three and a bit...

... and wise in the ways of puddles...

... it's fun to have a good splosh ...

 ... even if you get slightly wet in the process...

... but not that wet because you have your boots on.

And afterwards you can sit on a wall having a rest, looking at the waterfall and showing that your ears are rather like Daddy's (only smaller, though they don't look it because they're nearer the camera).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumn and so on

Who could grudge the squirrel a few of the birds' nuts, especially when he has to work so hard for them?

I swept up these leaves yesterday. Today it looks exactly the same.

And it's still very mild...

... so that the begonias soldier on...

... and the polyanthus think it might be spring.

Still, Christmas is coming - and in a burst of organisedness...

... I made a little skirt for our Christmas tree stand. Wait for the stand to break when we actually insert the tree, so that we have to buy a new one of different dimensions... .

I've just had a very sad email - well, a lovely email, but bearing sad news: my very first bloggy friend, who blogged under the name The Old Professor, has died at the age of 93. We've corresponded for about nine years and he was such fun. I suppose it's a good thing to die suddenly at 93 when you've been in good health and in full possession of your faculties. But though we never met - he lived in California - I shall miss him a lot. It was so kind of his daughter to write to his virtual friends.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I've been thinking about family history; and gathering together various archives. This was among my father's effects; I'd seen it before but not for many years. It's the indenture binding my great-grandfather, James Smith, as an apprentice painter and paper-hanger in Kirkcaldy, Fife, north of Edinburgh. He started working for Gilbert Heron when he was 13, though the apprenticeship began later. He was my father's father's father. 

He died in 1893 when he was forty, so my father and his sisters never knew him and my surviving aunt knows nothing about him. We have no photos of him but we do have his signature and the signature of his father, also James Smith, several times on this document. I never even met his son, my grandfather, who died in February 1950, some months before I was born. 

This grandfather was also James Smith, though he invented a middle name for himself; and my dad was James Smith as well - though with a middle name. My parents reserved James for my brother's middle name and it's also Grandson's middle name. Family trees become a bit confusing if everyone has exactly the same name!

Here's an extract from the document, with some omissions and some added punctuation for clarity: 

James Smith Junior Binds himself an apprentice and servant to Gilbert Heron and Son and partners in the business and trade of Painter and Paper Hanger for the space of six years complete from the Eleventh day of February Eighteen Hundred and sixty seven.

The said apprentice shall faithfully, diligently and honestly attend his masters’ service by night and by day, workday and holiday, in all things lawful and honest and that he shall not absent himself therefrom without leave first asked and obtained, and if he do in the contrary, that he shall not only forfeit and lose his wages for the time he shall be so absent, but shall also, after the expiration of the said period of six years, serve two days for each day’s absence.

The said apprentice shall abstain and refrain from all idle and improper company and from every other custom and exercise that may in any manner of way divert him from his said Masters’ employment.

He shall work at the rate of three shillings per week during the first Year of said apprenticeship, Three shillings and sixpence per week during the second Year, Four shillings per week during the Third year, Four shillings and sixpence per week during the first portion of the Fourth year, Five shillings and sixpence per week during the remainder of said Fourth year, Six shillings per week during the Fifth year and Eight shillings per week during the Sixth and last year of said apprenticeship.

The apprentice’s father, James Smith Senior, being bound to provide him (the said apprentice) with a Putty knife and to uphold the same during said apprenticeship, and in case the said apprentice be at any time without said putty knife it shall be in the power of the said masters to provide the same for him and to retain the expense thereof from the sums due to him.

I hope that working with Mr Heron was jollier than the impression given in this document, and that young James never forgot his putty knife. I salute you, Great-Grandpa.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How to put in the week

It's been a very mild autumn so far and there's still colour in the garden, though mainly from tender plants which will die in the first sharp frost.

I'll rescue some of them and bring them inside - attempting not to import the various beasties lurking in the compost. Slug trails on the carpet: not good. But at the moment there are still flowers despite the lower light levels so I'll wait a few days.

This chrysanthemum is glorious. I love the colour - which is slightly redder and less cerise than it looks here.

I've been doing a bit of gardening. Cassie always likes to help.

I've also seen quite a lot of the grandbabies.

Grandson has been very unwell - when he gets a cold, he becomes alarmingly asthmatic. Yesterday he was very poorly but today, on a course of steroids, he was considerably better. The gloves are to protect his hands - he has eczema on them and on other parts of his body - poor little wheezy, itchy little chap.

I've now washed and ironed every bit of my fabric stash because Thimbleanna said I should. The pieces did fray a bit but now they're all trimmed and folded and tidy. I always do what Anna tells me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I downloaded this picture from my phone and couldn't think at first what it was. But then I remembered. It's the view I have while Zumba-ing. It does look slightly as if Edinburgh is being invaded by square flying saucers but it's just the reflection of the lights in the window.

I always stand in the same place at Zumba (as does everyone else - oh what creatures of habit we are). I like it because a) I can see over the sea to the hills of Fife and b) I can't see myself in the big mirror.

The view is the part of the class I enjoy the most. Oh, and walking out afterwards with a glow of virtue.

And now for some photos of the little ones for the Worcester branch of the family, who look at my blog for these rather than for details of my exercise programme. On Saturday, Grandson and I went to the Botanics at night, where there's a light show at the moment. It was such a privilege to be there with him. It had rained heavily and we didn't have his wellington boots with us, so we popped in to a supermarket on the way there and bought him some. These were a great success, since they not only allowed him to splash in the puddles but they lit up all round the soles as he walked. I'm not positive that this is the best use of the world's resources, but he loved them ("I'm part of the light show!") and they also made it very easy to pick him out in the dark.

The light trail was cunningly planned to go past the cafe. I had warned him that this wouldn't be open, but it was. "I will have a cake," he said. Perhaps fortunately, there were no cakes, but there were crisps, which he ate with great seriousness. "I'm eating crisps in the middle of the night," he said. Well, kind of. About 6pm. But it felt like an adventure, even for me; perhaps especially for me. How often does one get to share the Botanics in the dark with a three-year-old wearing light-up welly boots?

Granddaughter wasn't there. But here's a picture of her anyway, for Nanny and Gramps. She's such a little sweetie.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Colour schemes

I got my stash of non-Christmas fabrics out of the cupboard in the spare room the other day and laid them on the bed. Some of them are spare bits of material from curtains that I've made through the years. I kept these bits because I was always a patchworker in my head... if not in fact. A few are left from the bundle that Thimbleanna kindly gave me a couple of years ago to encourage (...force...) me into getting started. Quite a lot of them are fabrics that I've liked in passing through John Lewis and bought half a metre of because I thought I'd do something with them some time. This may not have been very sensible.

I rather think that I'd better not buy any more till I actually need it. There seems to be a blue/yellow/aqua theme going on in the fabrics spread out on the bed so this is going to be the colour scheme of ... something. I think. I suppose I'd better wash them before doing anything with them. Do all you patchworkers do this?

As I was thinking this, I looked out of the window and saw Cassie the Cat surveying her street. We often wonder what she does when she goes out. By this evidence - sits and looks around. I don't think she knew she was observed. She contrasts nicely with the pink stones and grey tarmac: black goes with everything.

But I don't think it's going to figure in the next quilt, whatever that's going to be.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Falling leaves

Daughter 2 was here at the weekend and she and Grandson set up a button shop on the sitting room coffee table, first dividing them into colours and then adding some toning vehicles.

It's a good table. Mr L and I bought it for £4 in a junk yard when we were first married. It's very solid and can be turned upside down to make a boat. It may not be the most elegant table in the world but it's wonderfully unbreakable/unscratchable. Many small children have had snacks sitting at it. (Again, I apologise for the electric blue in the photo. It's not really that bright.)

Later, the two Ls - Daughter 2 and Granddaughter (not the same name) - sat and bonded on the sofa. The colour here is much more accurate.

High five.

The next day we went to the Botanics, which look lovely in any season,

 including autumn.

There are going to be a lot of leaves to sweep up.

Of course, you have to go to the cafe when you visit the Botanics. When the leaves are off the trees the view of the city skyline is revealed, though it would have been more revealed if I were taller or had stood on a chair. I love living somewhere with spires and domes and steeples and hills rather than tower blocks - though we have a few of those too, on the outskirts.

The trouble with having such very nice children is that they leave such a gap when they go. Maybe we should have had difficult ones; perhaps we would have been glad to see the back of them. Sigh.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Kelpies

Another hike with the walking group and (hurray) Daughter 2, who was home for a long weekend. This time we walked along the canal at Falkirk.

We came to the Falkirk Wheel, which is a very cunning device for allowing boats to pass from the higher to the lower part of the canal. But that wasn't our destination today -

though there was a small model there.

Further along the canal we went.

Look - a distant sight of our objective.

I'm not sure what these berries are but they're such a cheerful colour.

Nearly there...

... at the Kelpies, a recently installed art work. They represent mythical water horses possessed of the strength of 100 horses - but also celebrate the work horses which pulled the wagons and ploughs, barges and coalships so important to the area.

They're the largest equine statues in the world and are really impressive. As you walk round them, looking at them from different angles, they almost appear to move.

I love the way they seem to toss their heads in the Scottish wind - wild...  

... and yet friendly.

Nine miles there and back and I think my feet will recover in a few days. A lovely, lovely day.