Thursday, February 24, 2022

There and back again

I've been down in London, visiting Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter. One day we went to a play centre in Stratford (not Shakespeare's Stratford - the place in east London where (some of?) the Olympics took place). 

After having fun inside, we went into the outdoor play area. We had it to ourselves because it was really quite wet. 

On the way home, we passed what I think are flats. I am so glad that I don't live there. So unbeautiful, so high, so lacking in garden. 

Another day we went to the library. Libraries were never supplied with cafes in my youth (or even now, here, as far as I know). 

And we played with Elsa. Or it might have been Ana. 

And Daughter 2 took me to see what we hope is going to be their new house - the cumbersome English house-buying process permitting. It's nice - much more roomy than their current two-bedroom flat. Fingers crossed. Littlest decided which bedroom she'd like - the biggest one. Hmm...

And then I came home. It took me 9 hours from their flat to our house. The first train broke down and we had to go backwards to the previous station. Then later in the journey there was a delay with the second one because of "an incident on the platform" involving a lady who had fallen "so obviously we can't leave till the ambulance has come". Slightly mysterious. I hope she was all right. 

I took this picture once we'd got back into Scotland. It's always a great feeling. But I miss them very much. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

The tenderness of life

Well, a whole lot of nothing has been happening here - which is strange, because I somehow haven't had time to do much to my current quilts. Son and Daughter-in-Law and offspring had a weekend at the seaside in the west of Scotland, where the sunsets were beautiful. 

Biggest Granddaughter was in a little show - a version of Jack and the Beanstalk in which Jack (wisely) runs away from the giant. Then his unpleasant mother and granny go up the beanstalk instead and get eaten by the giant. Jack subsequently shins up, finds the giant sleeping off his meal of Jack's relations, pinches the giant's money and lives happily ever after. Morally rather dubious but quite funny. Biggest was Second Chicken. Not a starring role but she sang nicely and remembered her (few) lines. 

The Edinburgh Two came here and the Brio, once so much the centre of Big Grandson's life, got an outing. Biggest Granddaughter played with it a bit but also practised turning herself upside down. 

It was VERY WET yesterday. 
Littlest in London went to soft play. 

And that's about it, apart from a bit of gardening, three choir rehearsals, a daily letter to my friend who had the stroke (she passed module one of dressing and washing using her left hand this morning! - I don't know if there's really a Module 1 or she was just teacher-joking, but it's good news anyway), some walking, a bit of patchworking, quite a bit of socialising and the book group. 

Oh, and on Tuesday we went up to Perth to drop off - no, to hand carefully over - the bottle of whisky to be auctioned. While we were there, we tried to go to Branklyn Gardens, but they don't open till April 1. We thought we'd go to Scone Palace to walk in their grounds - only open Friday-Sunday at this time of year. So we tried the museum and art gallery - closed till Thursday. Ah well, we had a nice walk along the North Inch. 

We chose a house for ourselves. I rather fancy the one on the right, with the sloping gardens down to the river and the little hexagonal summer house. 

This, in the High Street, is a sculpture by David Annand based on a 1941 poem by William Soutar called "Nae day sae dark", ie "No day so dark".

Nae day sae dark; nae wud sae bare,
Nae grun sae stour wi' stane,
But licht comes through; a sang is there;
A glint o' grass is green. 

Wha hasna thol'd his thorter hours
And kent, whan they were by,
The tenderness o' life that fleurs
Rockfast in misery?

This means roughly: No day so dark, no wood so bare, no ground so hard* with stone, but light comes through, a song is there, a glint of grass is green. Who hasn't borne his difficult (thwarted) hours and known, when they were past, the tenderness of life that flowers strongly from the rock of misery? 

An optimistic thought. The poem is engraved inside the ring.

It's supposed to be a happy chap holding the ring - to support, I suppose? -  a sad one, though actually they both look a bit ambivalent. 

William Soutar knew things about misery. He was bedridden with arthritis and TB by 32, and died thirteen years later. Poor chap. But at least he's remembered. 

How time paddles on by... and how different from my previous lives. Not unpleasant, though. Not complaining. Enjoying every moment (well, most of them) and appreciating being able to use my arms and legs. 

*"Stour" normally means "dust" but I looked it up and it can also mean "hardness, harshness", which seems to fit better here. 

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Ups and downs

I was dusting this photo yesterday and thinking about the people in it. The girl on the right is my Granny – Mum’s mum - the young man is her brother and the lady on the left is her Auntie Jessie. Granny’s mother died of TB when Granny was five, and her little sister also had TB from a baby and died at fourteen. When Granny's mother died, Auntie Jessie, her father’s sister, left her home in Edinburgh and went through to Glasgow to look after the three children and keep house for her brother. Yesterday I looked up how old Auntie Jessie was when she did this, and it turns out that she was 32. I had always vaguely thought that she was older. When Granny was 17, her father remarried and Auntie Jessie was redundant – but I suppose she was still only 44 – not much older than Daughter 1. And she’d brought up three bereaved children and nursed one of them when she was dying. She must have had some backbone.

I do remember meeting Auntie Jessie but I only thought of her as an ancient person – which indeed she was. She died in 1957 at the age of 89, when I was 7. I wish now I knew what happened to her when she came back to Edinburgh but I’ve no idea and there’s no one to ask. Sadly, Granny’s brother was gassed during WW1 and died in 1920 at the age of 27.

Well, that was a cheery story, wasn’t it? My Granny, however, lived till she was 85 in reasonable health and was a very very lovely person – totally grateful for everything she had, and very content with her lot (even though she was married to my rather grumpy grandfather). 

Nothing particular is happening here except a bit of sewing of quilts for the bunk beds in the study. Yesterday, Big Grandson went with his father and Mr L on a tram outing - to the airport on a tram, back into the centre of town and then back here on a bus. As you can see from his cheerful expression, he considers this a satisfactory use of his time. 

Meanwhile Big Granddaughter and I did some abstract painting - at her request - so much easier than trying for realism.

and some jumping. Well, she did. She likes leaping around, though I don't think she'll ever make the Olympics. 

Poor little Littlest Granddaughter in London has been unwell all week. It makes me so sad that I can't easily pop down to help! However, she was better today and said she wanted to go to a party. There was no party to go to, but Daughter 2 fished out a parcel left over from pass-the-parcel at Littlest's own party in October, and they played that. Guess who won? 

Then they made party decorations for Chinese New Year. 

Our microwave died on Thursday - it failed to heat what I'd put in it but instead made a nasty burning smell. Well, I cannot count the number of times since then that I’ve gone confidently towards it with something I was planning to heat up. And it’s still only Saturday! Talk about a creature of habit. I’ve thought at different times that I would heat up soup, plates, a cool cup of coffee - etc. Tonight I decided to make an apple pudding that I’ve made for nearly 50 years The last time I did it, I tried pre-cooking the apples in the microwave instead of in a saucepan, which was quicker and involved less washing up. You’d think it would have taken me less than 50 years to come up with this, but no. Making this pudding is a bit of a fiddle because you separate the eggs and beat the whites in a different bowl, but tonight I thought, well, it won’t be that much bother because I’ll do the apples in the microwave again. Hmm. Then I tried to soften the butter that you have to cream with sugar and almonds – in the microwave. I really never realised that I used it so much.

My friend can now clench and unclench her previously-useless left hand, which is such good news. When she was first in hospital, I wrote her a letter every second day (an actual, paper one, because she finds manipulating her phone quite difficult). It turns out that she really likes getting my letters and said she wished I could write to her twice a day! This might be a bit much, but I'm now writing every day. I deliver them to her house and her husband leaves them as he leaves after a visit, so that she can read them when he's gone. I don't think it's the brilliance and wit of my actual letters that she likes so much as just knowing that she's not forgotten. I like writing and it's nice to think that I can do something to cheer her up a bit. It was a month yesterday that she had her stroke and it probably seems much longer to her. She and her husband are keen walkers and last year walked 1,200 miles! I doubt if we managed half that. It must be so frustrating to be stuck in a hospital bed. 

Ah, the ups and downs of life. 


Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Bad news, good news. And legs.

Bad news - well, it wasn't really unexpected - I got the results today of the x-rays my doctor sent me for because I'd consulted him about my sore leg and stiff hip. And I have "severe" osteoarthritis in my right hip (where the problem is) and "moderate" osteoarthritis in my left hip - which causes me very little trouble. Hey ho. I must be getting old. So I'm now on the (fairly long) road to a hip replacement. 

The GP seemed to think, on the phone today when he gave me my results, that having the operation was the right course. Somewhat discouragingly, when I first consulted him the other day, he warned me that it was a big operation with risks of blood clots, stroke, cardiac arrest and so on. He didn't mention this today. I shall have to keep healthy!

Or possibly just hang three spiders round my neck. 

When we were in the Botanics the other week, I admired some large, early-flowering snowdrops called "Colossus". So I Googled them the other day and found a stockist. Sadly, they were £10 per bulb - argh - but I ordered two and they arrived today - each with two flowers, which eased the pain a bit. Must remember not to dig them up when weeding, next year. 

Mr L used to work in the whisky industry, and many years ago was given this bottle. We don't drink whisky, so it sat in a cupboard. He thought it was worth something, so today we phoned a whisky auction house and they said it would probably go for £700 plus! So that'll buy a few more snowdrops, won't it? Mustn't drop the bottle on the way to deliver it for auction... .

And in the garden, ordinary crocus and little, much cheaper snowdrops are making a springlike show. Which is good.

But the best news is that my friend who had the stroke can now move her left leg. She sent us a video of this. Never did I think I'd find a film of someone waggling her knee so exciting. 

So, things to remember - keep healthy; don't dig up those expensive snowdrops; don't drop that bottle. And be grateful for legs, however imperfectly functioning.