Friday, March 30, 2018

Doing quite well

It's spring, but frankly it's still quite chilly. Mr Life and I took a walk round the Botanics the other day and the crocuses and daffodils and rhododendrons are all blooming away, but brrr. At least it was sunny yesterday but not so today.

Today it was drizzly and windy and the tourists that the Edinburgh grandchildren and I saw today when we went to the Museum of Childhood didn't look too happy. Sorry, tourists, but you know - do your research. It's not usually this cold when April's nearly here but you know what T S Eliot said about April and he lived in England from the age of 25.

And this is Scotland: that much nearer the North Pole.

Anyway, we had a nice time at the museum and then came home and played very vigorously in our house, making it look like this by the time Mr L took them home after tea.

It's tidy now.

Grandson has been thinking a bit about death since my aunt died. He met her last summer when we all went down to Norfolk. I suppose she's the first person that he's known who's died.

Grandson [thoughtfully]: I hope you don't die before I'm an adult, Granny.
Me: I hope so too.
Grandson: It would be terrible if you died while I was still a teenager.
Me: Ok, I'll try my best not to.
Grandson [encouragingly]: You're doing quite well so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Endings and other things

We've been down in Norfolk, attending my aunt's funeral and sorting out her possessions. This is always a sad thing to do - and we've done it now as often as we care to. Mr Life's parents died when he was 34 and 43 - and he's an only child - and then my parents died 11 and 6 years ago, my other unmarried aunt having died 7 years ago. So I hope that's us done for a bit. On the other hand, maybe it's time to sift through our own stuff... .

This aunt was 93 and in full possession of her faculties, whereas my other aunt, her sister, had dementia. It's such a random illness, one which everyone dreads. Because this aunt was so mentally sharp and full of fun, it's hard to quite take in that she's gone. However, she was very religious and was quite happy to accept that her life had come to an end, so it's not such a sad thing. Her funeral was very suitable and lovely and attended by about 100 people, which isn't bad for a childless 93-year-old.

My brother and his wife stayed on to help with the clearing out of her things, which was great. These events are always better done together. My aunt lived simply - she didn't have a great many possessions apart from books.

I've written before about how she and some friends retired to this lovely house in a Norfolk village. One of the friends was married to a much younger husband - the key to the working of this splendid arrangement. The husband divided the house up informally into three flats upstairs and then the downstairs was used for visitors and communal purposes - often church or village meetings. They arranged that the house should end up belonging to the much-younger husband and he is now the only one left - and not so young now, at 76, though he looks much younger.

My aunt was a great gardener. The garden is enormous - several acres - and though she still gardened most days till her accident, the size of it was becoming a bit much for her, so that it's much weedier than it used to be - though still beautiful. They do have a gardener who comes in, I think, a couple of mornings a week and potters around, but it really needs someone full time. I walked round it and couldn't help being a bit sad at seeing the spring flowers that my aunt will never now see, the seats she used to rest on in between gardening sessions, and her spade leaning up against a wall.

The house is now up for sale. Unfortunately we can't afford it! - even if we wanted to take on such a huge property (which we don't) far away from home. We've had so many wonderful holidays there; we've been so lucky.

Then we went to London for a few days to see these people. We even babysat Littlest Granddaughter while her parents went to see "Hamilton" the musical.

It went remarkably well. Littlest didn't seem at all bothered by her parents' absence.

Today we've seen the Edinburgh family, whom we'd been missing. Grandson's teacher has told his class that every word in English has at least one of the vowels "a,e,i,o,u" in it. Grandson doesn't agree. "What about "my"?" he pointed out. Fortunately he didn't point this out to the teacher, who was no doubt aware that "y" can act as a vowel but thought she'd just state the general rule. Still, it's good that they're learning about such things. Long live the basics. But be careful what you say to small children.

Biggest Granddaughter, alas, has been diagnosed with long sight and is going to have to have glasses. She likes accessories and is quite pleased, which is good. Sigh.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Girls of various sizes

We've been spending time arranging my aunt's funeral - at long distance, not the easiest way - though my brother and sister-in-law in Surrey have been doing much of the liaising with the funeral director and so on. But so many emails have been whizzing to and fro! Meanwhile, Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter have been staying with us, which has been so lovely. But you may know how much time for anything else there is with a little person who likes a lot of attention. And then the Edinburgh grandchildren have been here today.

It's very ... what do I mean? ... poignant? touching? reassuring? seeing this baby, this little girl, this young mother moving into their places in the world just as the old lady moves out.

Biggest Granddaughter decided to go camping with her dolly. It was apparently very hot so dolly took her clothes off to do a bit of sunbathing. Wisely, however, they stayed inside today. Spring? It's a chilly one so far.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Basically babies

It's quite an emotional time at the moment, what with one thing and another. We went to visit Son, Daughter-in-Law and Middle Granddaughter yesterday. Here we are playing with her on the floor. She's beginning to accept us as members of her servant tribe, which is lovely but also sad, since we won't see her again for another few weeks.

Once more she fed the ducks.

We went to the soft play centre. Here she is, seeing her Grandpa one floor below and waving to him. We were amazed and delighted - he was some distance away.

And now Littlest Granddaughter and her mum have come for a few days. She's keen to stand up (at not quite five months) - so advanced...

We've been comparing her with photos of her mum.

I think they're quite similar. I wish I were more similar than I now am to that young woman holding Daughter 2. Where did she go?

Littlest Granddaughter is very interested in her hands.

This is Daughter 2 again.

And we've been sorting photos out for a slide show after my aunt's funeral. Here she is, on the left, with my late dad and my other aunt, who alone of the three suffered from dementia for several years before she died. Such a random and awful disease and one which I do hope I haven't inherited.

And tomorrow we go to the funeral of one of my parents' best friends. Life is short.

But, on the other hand, it's frequently sweet.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


So in very sad news, my little auntie has died. She was knocked over by a Tesco employee pushing his trolley carelessly on November 30, which broke her hip, and she basically never recovered and never got home to the lovely house she lived in, in Norfolk.

She was 93 and had a rather lovely life, so of course one can't mourn that much. But all the same, I'm very sad about it. It's partly because she was my father's sister and so now all that generation is dead - which is very much the end of an era (and leaves us uncomfortably in the front line - us next...). I will also miss her for herself. She was unmarried and moved down south when I was only 5, so though I was her only niece we didn't see that much of her during my childhood. But she used to come up for holidays in the north of Scotland, with friends, all through my teenage years, and they used to stay with my parents on the way. And after that, she hosted Mr Life and me and then the children for lots of holidays, first in Cambridge and then in lovely Norfolk. It was a good relationship: she was semi-detached (I couldn't disappoint her) but friendly and caring and jolly. For years, I've written to her at least once a month, and since her accident I've sent her a letter every two days. And now there's no one left to write actual letters to. There's a gap in my life. 

But still. 93 happy years is good. And I'm very glad that the whole extended family went down to see her last summer. 

The other day, Granddaughter decided to draw a picture as a present to her brother. She chose to depict his very favourite kind of traffic lights: the ones he's always called "traffic lights up high" - on very long poles, sometimes over the carriageway. He came to look - and we winced, waiting for him to point out the flaws in her drawing, but he very tactfully said something along the lines that this was the best traffic light drawing he'd ever seen. She accepted the compliment gracefully.

Then she drew a (somewhat space-age-looking) bus, bus stop and - allowing her own interests a look-in - giant bunny.

The snow is almost gone, to everyone's relief, but it's cold and wet. The crocuses and snowdrops have re-emerged, the latter somewhat squashed. I had coffee today with a friend, looking out over the water. Roll on, spring.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Come back, spring

When the snow started, I took these photos of crocuses peeping through, which I thought was rather sweet and brave of them.

Now, poor things, they've been deeply buried for a few days. I wonder if the blooms will survive?

We are surviving perfectly well, though I'm starting to get fed up with not getting much exercise. On the other hand, quilting is a pleasant and warm occupation. And we have enough to eat, thanks to fridge and freezer, long-life milk and a very local wee shop.

We keep hearing, don't we, of people who throw vast amounts of food away? Can this be true? (I realise that shops and restaurants probably do.) We have council food waste bins and most of our neighbours put them out to be collected, but we throw practically nothing away. It's partly because I'm vegetarian and so are Daughter 1 and family so we don't buy whole chickens and things which would leave carcasses, just portions of meat for the Carnivorous One. And everything else left over - well, we eat it the next day or freeze it for later or it goes into soup or gets composted for the garden. You can put almost everything into soup: broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves (most of them) and leftover salad or vegetables. Who are these rumoured throwers-away?

Anyway. The Edinburgh family is about to arrive on buses, hooray hooray (we still can't get the car out of the driveway) so that'll destroy a bit of our peace - in a good way.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Snow days

Well, here's the thing: it's been snowing. We don't get very much snow, or any kind of extreme weather, in Edinburgh, so it comes as a big surprise to us all and things grind to a halt. This is the main road this morning, looking west...

and here it is looking east. The buses have been cancelled, the schools are closed and we're all being urged to stay at home. So, more or less, we have been doing so.

This was our street this morning - the footprints are now all filled in. There's no way we can get the car up that hill and it's the only way out.

And this was looking out of the window behind my sink this afternoon.

It's been all right for us retired folk, especially those of us with triangles to sew. I'm less stir-crazy than I'd have thought, though I do like to get out for a walk. But it's hard work, wading through deep snow. I did go to the local shop for fruit and other essentials but otherwise it's been quite pleasant, just battening down the hatches and lying low.

Well, not lying exactly. Sitting at the sewing machine and battling with fabric. The quilt top is now finished (sorry it looks so crumpled there. I should have made more effort to straighten it out). My triangles aren't all perfect but hey ho, they're good enough.

Now I'm off to organise the wadding and pin it all to the back and then at last I can spend several months quilting it. By the time I'm finished, it'll be summer and Biggest Granddaughter will have no need of a quilt but no doubt winter will roll around again shortly. Time passes so fast these days that often, when I'm undressing for bed, I feel it was hardly worth putting my clothes on that morning. But somehow making something, eg a quilt, seems to give one something to show for the passing of time. And I do love playing with fabric.