04 November 2014

Well, now I've done it! I should probably just go on and join FaceBook while I'm being all 21st Century!

Yes, I've won a bid on eBayUK. Sigh. Bad enough AmazonUK has become my go-to shopping site, but blimey, eBay?!

I didn't mean to do it. I actually forgot I'd placed a bid. When eBayUK reminded me with a 'congrats, you're winning!' email a few days ago I was mortified I'd A-place the damn bid, and B-forgot all about it and didn't retract it when I had the chance. I did figure the other bidder would win and, er, put it to the back of my mind.

And then this morning the swell news arrived to the inbox that yippee, I won.

DH took it pretty well considering. I negotiated the payment page and got the confirmation emails that my item will be arriving next week (slow boat from Cheltenham, excuse me?! At that postage price, sheesh!).

What did I win? Well, tbh, I did make out like a bandit - if you ask me. For the unprincely sum of £10 (winning bid, the 2nd class postage is another £5.50. From Cheltenham. How heavy is this thing??!!) I've acquired an Elbesee Posilock floor stand. With hoops. 'Like New - Hardly Used'. So now I can sit on the sofa and embroider my brains out.

Ahem. The reason I'm mortified, aside from forgetting I'd placed the bid? And then won it?

Because immediately after placing the bid I found what I was REALLY looking for on AmazonUK. Brand new. For £13 including postage and packing (and wow did Stitch Craft Create pack that well!)

Er, was what I was looking for a floor stand fancy-schmancy embroidery hoop-frame thingy that retails over here for £35+? No.

What I was REALLY looking for when I strayed accidentally onto eBayUK was a lap stand with frame. Or without - the only reason I went looking on eBay was because I couldn't find a reasonably priced lap stand on AmazonUK. My bad, after perusing eBayUK I realised I was using the wrong search term on AmazonUK. So after placing the eBay bid - which yes, did involve setting up an eBay account so it is a stretch to imagine I forgot doing so - I went back to AmazonUK and used the correct search term.

Which of course brought me straight to what I was really looking for. And at that price (£13 including p&p - this stand retails for £25+p&p elsewhere), well long story short it was in my trolley and I was checking out before the seller could raise the price, hahahahaha!

And it arrived (wow was it well packed!) and after ripping the wrapping (several layers of bubble-wrap and paper and more bubble-wrap and more paper and more...) had that puppy set up and was stitching merrily away within ten minutes.

***Little sidebar moment here. I wrote my glowing review of the stand and the seller doubled the price within 24h of my review being published.***

About AmazonUK. And now eBayUK. I'd far rather patronise local shops for everything including my crafty-sewing-embroidery-reading-other necessities. I'd be over the moon if I could find things even as 'far off' as Dundee (about 15 miles south). But I can't. The few things I can find locally are so bleeding expensive my DH goes all Delta Rocket on me. (can't blame him, really)

So a few years ago I went looking on AmazonUK after a friend told me about used books at amazing prices, and I was hooked when I found a proper vacuum for half the price the local shop wanted even with postage and packing figured in. I've done so well with my AmazonUK purchases DH now says 'Well, can you find it at a better price on Amazon?' and 'Will you order this for me please, I'll send you the link.'

But not eBay, oh no, not me, I'll never buy anything on eBay - sounding for all the world a right proper snob. Elitist. Heh.

I wonder, should I bid three GBPs higher on the quilt floor stand, or just one? Flushed with bidding success, I have my account watching the quilting frame floor stand that expands wide enough to hand quilt even a super king quilt...


11 September 2014

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal. (author unknown)

What do you remember?

I remember sleeping late and waking up cross, an hour behind NYC time-wise, at 0845h CST. I remember looking outside the upstairs bedroom window and seeing an impossibly clear, crisp, blue sky September morning and thinking I'd go for a swim if the complex maintenance man weren't such a pillock as to stand on the pool deck staring.

I remember realising I'd slept so late Fox had already gone to work (he worked at the local Books-A-Million) and I was alone in the townhouse. I remember getting dressed quickly and stumbling downstairs, focussed on starting my day with my usual cup of hot chocolate and the news - part of the reason I was cross that morning was I preferred the morning news straight, thank-you, not those awful 'breakfast' or 'morning' shows the networks and CNN seemed to love.

You know, it's just like the day President Kennedy was shot and killed (I was 7 and remember the day so clearly) - each of us who remembers, remembers with diamond sharp, clear clarity the moments before, the moment(s) of the actual event, and the horrific days after. 

I remember being slightly surprised the TV remote was where I'd left it. I remember turning towards the TV, pointing the remote and turning the TV on.

And I remember the first thing I saw on the TV screen was the South Tower collapsing, immediately recognisable to anyone who knew the NYC skyline. It was 0859h CST. I dropped to my knees knowing something truly horrible had just happened to people I knew - I knew Crusty's company had an large office there and I knew I'd just seen them all die.

I knew my friend Joey had gone to his attorney's office there that morning to finalise the details of his will (Joey was dying and knew it, of pancreatic cancer, and a few weeks before 11 Sept 2001 I'd used a little grim humour to cheer him up by saying 'Relax, Joey, you'll probably get hit by a beer truck before the cancer gets you'. I've never forgiven myself for that although Joey had the best hearty laugh he'd had since the diagnosis when I'd said that to him.). And I knew I'd just seen him die too.

I remember staying on my knees as the morning show presenters 'recapped' the morning events so far 'for those of you just joining us'.

I remember everything about that morning but I cannot recall who the presenters were that morning on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and the CNN presenter who stayed on TV the rest of the day and into the night? His face and voice are clear in my mind but I cannot recall his name!

I remember frantically switching channels, finally (about three minutes later) choosing CNN, and watching/listening as I made a cup of chocolate.

I remember thinking, when the news came across that there were two 'unaccounted for' US airline flights, that the people aboard those planes must be in utter terror for their lives. When President Bush appeared and proclaimed 'We have a national tragedy...' and just seven minutes later Flt 77 hit the Pentagon, I was sick to my stomach because I knew then with absolute certainty this was an attack on the USA, and I knew people at work at that moment in the Pentagon who were either dead now or dying.

I remember the presenter trying to get more information on Flt 93, the other unaccounted for flight; I remember thinking the people aboard knew what was going on because already CNN had reported mobile calls were coming through to loved ones on the ground, the FAA, the police departments across the Eastern Seaboard, and I remember thinking 'Fight, for God's sake don't go down like sheep, fight!' and how bloody terrified the passengers must be...

And then of course the report of a passenger jet crashing with massive impact in a Pennsylvania field came over the TV.

I remember trying to ring Fox at work - of course the lines were busy and I drove over to the store. remember a very surreal moment in the car park when I wondered if I was the only person alive, and then hoping that maybe, just maybe, I'd dreamt this was happening so I walked down to the complex office to see if this was real. I walked in the office and the complex staff was watching the television news. It was real. It was happening. I looked at the complex manager and asked 'Is this real?!' and she just nodded. She looked as though she was in shock, her face was pale and although she wasn't crying, her eyes were red rimmed. The creepy maintenance guy was looking the same, and I remember thinking something had finally shut this bastard up. I left the office and went back to the car, got in, and drove towards my son's work.

I remember how empty the streets of Dothan were, and how empty the skies were as well although that was so rare in that area of Alabama. I remember the skies were empty for so long, for weeks and weeks  and weeks that when the first jet appeared in the skies over Dothan I stood there and stared in shock at the sight.

I remember stopping at the petrol station to fill the car tank and being surprised there were only four other cars at the pumps. I remember the older woman behind me in the pay queue saying she was surprised too because she remembered how everyone rushed to fill their tanks the minute President Roosevelt finished his announcement after Pearl Harbor.

I remember the grocery store being empty, too, and I remember filling my trolley with water, first aid supplies, meat, bread, milk, tinned foods, and BBQ charcoal. I was already fairly well stocked up 'in-case' because it was still hurricane season but who knew what was going to happen, so I stopped at Food World and topped up. I remember the clerk at the till crying silently as she rang and bagged my groceries.

I remember. I remember. I remember.

'Please, can you call my wife?'


31 July 2014

'Good fences make good neighbours'. A truth Frost was reluctant to admit in his poem. I've always understood what his neighbour was saying. Trust me, good fences really do make good neighbours - even when those neighbours think it rude or sad or backwards to install that good fence.

0356h here in NE Scotland and it's becoming light out. The days are becoming shorter already. Day before yesterday the chill in the wind hinted gently that although we've been enjoying a spell of unusually lovely summer days up here, Autumn with a capital A is going to arrive sooner rather than later. Maybe not, it's usually fairly warmish until late August, early September. I remember two years ago walking out to where the bramble bushes are and needing to roll up my sleeves it was so warm, and marvelling at how good the sun felt on my forearms. This year it's been a bit warmer, hot even, and while Paul is suffering a bit from it (three rounds of chemo will do that to a body) we've both been basking in it, too. It seemed as though it was Autumn for nearly three years running - constant low 50F temps and rain. Rain. Rain. Or grey days threatening rain.

The return of the four seasons is most welcome! We had a real (if mild) winter, we had an early and somewhat brief spring, and we'd been enjoying what passes for summer and then whammo - what passes for a heat wave to the locals and what passes as a great US West Coast or Deep South mid-spring  (more rare than you know unless you lived along the West Coast through the early 70s or the Deep South since) to me arrived and held for nearly a week. Now we're back to what I would have called early-to-mid spring and it's still fab even with the wee warning of colder weather merely being held at bay! Tee shirt weather, last week near stifling weather - funny how these things make me want to say 'Oh yeah, Life is good-ish and getting better':)

We've been busy - you'd think two retired middle-agers wouldn't say something like that but we really have been. Sewing, my new little bespoke jewellery business that actually may turn to such success it's really a business and not a hobby, sewing (winter will come, we'll be in base layers and fleece lined clothing!), home improvement...

Paul has had a new lease on life granted, so to speak - after years of The Mystery Illness he's been found to have some food sensitivities and since eliminating those he's a real live-wire! Name the home improvement project and he's been on it - the latest is privacy fencing between the shared stair splitting the two back gardens of our semi-detached. The main fencing panels are up and the man is on fire now, lol! If the weather holds (and I'm actively praying it does as I have one more load of duvet covers to wash and dry along with the daily household laundry) he's installing the panels that will finally permit us to come and go in normal privacy from our back door.

Very long story and can't really be shortened if you, dear reader wants to understand - you've been warned to back away now, lol!

Our semi lies at an awkward angle as the bottom terrace of three levels cut in on a very low cliff - from the lane along the front we're straight but the back is quite different and the designer-architect should be horsewhipped in my opinion - he/she for some reason thought the back gardens should be split merely by an extremely ill-thought-out narrow riser concrete stair that looks like something straight out of Glasgow sheltered council housing! Although the homes were sold as having private raised back gardens - until Paul put up that fence last week it looked for all the world as though we had 'shared' or 'common' gardens with the equally ridiculous 'bonus' of a footpath running along the retaining walls from back door to front of both sides of the building. (Blimey, even trying to describe the awkward arrangement is awkward!)

Paul and I have the side with the driveway and garage, the family next door have the side without a driveway but thanks to the stair they have access to the next terraced level up the cliff where they park their people mover.

Which they use. Constantly as for some reason they and anyone coming to see them shun the use of the front door although there is parking out there in front. No, they use the back stair for ALL their comings and goings. All. Every single one. Dozens of times a day. Plus the lower stair being used to access the back gardens - for play, hanging out washing, fetching something from the tumble dryer they keep in the garden shed. And so do their friends, family, and the parents of the children she child-minds (a business she took up with it occurring to her to consult the very near neighbours about). Dozens of times a day. Bloody fecking constantly.

Which meant for the past four years my kitchen window blind has been closed. Day or night. Closed. Because good fences really do make good neighbours - by removing the shocking inclination and succumbing to temptation an un-fenced back garden and thus exposed kitchen window present. Well, good manners would have sorted that too, but since they haven't any, apparently, it's been torture. Until this past week.

One thing leads to another - in this case Paul's waking up to the sad truth not only were the neighbours and everyone coming to see them for whatever reason using the back stair to come and go, they were staring in our windows whilst they did. Or standing on the back stair chatting whilst staring in our windows. Loudly chatting, btw. Rather like living in a fishbowl.

And the children were doing the same. All of the children. Let me explain I love the two wee girls next door almost as much as I do my own two granddaughters (yes, finally I announce to the world - my daughter emotionally came home a few weeks ago and I am suddenly the gran of not the one ten year old light of my life - son of Fox - but three more new lights of my life, a boy aged a year younger than 'Bas, a girl about to become six, and a wee girl just turned one). But they are quite open about thinking Paul and I should keep our kitchen window blinds open - BECAUSE WHEN THE BLINDS ARE OPEN THEY CAN SEE US AND THEREBY WATCH US. Yes. Openly stated - 'Please keep the blinds open so we can see what you're doing'. From the six and ten year old. On different occasions. And I don't love being the local entertainment.


You see, apparently they thought 'having a gawp' in our kitchen window was socially acceptable - the children AND their parents AND anyone coming and going to see said neighbours for whatever reason. However, and here's where Paul's waking up occurred, one of the child-minded's mother seems to think Paul and I shouldn't be what she terms our 'half of the garden' when the children are there. Which they are every single bloody f*cking day.

Hence the fence, enough is enough. And the b*itch made it clear yesterday that she intends to stand at the top of the stair chatting loudly to the neighbours living above whilst looking over the stone retaining walls into our garden. I'd laugh but it really wasn't funny - the neighbours are on holiday and this silly twit had the nerve to tell Paul she'd put out the neighbour's bins - which of course means the next two days she'll be coming and going up-down those stairs to put the bins out, and sniffing her disapproval of Paul and I putting up a fence.

ONE - this semi-detached was not sold as having a common garden OR footpath along the back of our sides.

TWO - Paul has been in this house since 1996. They moved in whilst the now-mother of two was carrying the first. That child will be 11 in August. So. Paul was here long before they arrived to apparently assume they own the entire area - and teach their children to believe the same. Heh. We were here first but I get the distinct impression the feeling is if we don't like it we are being unreasonable and should move. Even though Paul (so technically we) was here first.

THREE - since when has it become socially acceptable for children to address un-related adults by their first names? And don't get me started on unmarried 'partners'!! Excuse me, you've got two children in school but are still not married??!! And you're putting on airs as though you're someone special who should be teaching their children it's alright to run roughshod over the neighbour's privacy (not to mention that apparently marriage with children is optional??!!) and acting as though Paul and I are just two old dafties???!!!

FOUR - this ain't council housing! Learn some damn manners and stop trying to peer into my windows! And oh, whilst I'm on it, what the hell were you thinking not at least warning us you were going to have 25 adults and accompanying children using the back stair as a bleacher during your daughter's birthday parties??!! You didn't think maybe it would be polite to tell us you were going to be throwing a garden party - even though at the time there was no fence? Didn't it occur to you that if we'd planned on being out there using our back garden it could be a bit...awkward??!! Or that we'd find it extremely unpleasant to open the kitchen window blinds only to have 25 parents sitting on the stair LOOKING IN AT US?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which they did with no hesitation! Meh doesn't cover it, princess!

FIVE, and what is really the biggest issue in our minds - She didn't ask us how we might feel about what has become eight VERY noisy children running amuck if she took up child-minding. At first it was two (making four boisterous children in the back garden or quite literally bouncing off the common walls inside), after-school. One of the two was and is exceptionally noisy and rude, btw, but over the past two years it's grown to six - all eight are now cheeky thanks to the lack of good manners on the child-minder's part.

I'm sorry, it doesn't pop into your mind that two middle-aged retirees might not be overjoyed at the thought of hearing the back garden thundering of ill-mannered children, and enduring their beyond rude staring IN OUR BLEEDING WINDOWS???????????????????? We'll leave off what I think of the way those children are CLEARLY bouncing off the common walls when forced inside by sub-zed temps or rain, shall we?

It doesn't penetrate your mind that perhaps it would at least be polite to warn the very near neighbours that not only were you going to take on two for after-school days but you would very soon expand to be a child-minder for toddlers and infants as well as taking on more older children, and that oh hey, in the second year it was going to become all-children all-day - school hols including summer too?!

Well, no, it clearly didn't.

So two weeks ago when Paul overheard the children saying they were bored and wanted us to open our kitchen window so they could look in, and when he got in a huff and went up to our back garden to 'take back our garden' whilst the little beggars were shredding the local peace with their back garden shrieks he got the final awakening. The afore mentioned b*itch came down the stair to collect her especially loud and obnoxious little precious, and made it quite clear from her sniffs and ostentatiously averted eyes that she found our daring to be in our back garden highly un-acceptable.

Paul ordered the fencing panels the very next day. And began digging out the holes. Which led ot being asked what we were doing. Which led to me explaining to the numpty next door that we'd got the distinct impression the b*itch (didn't call her that in conversation to Neighbour Numpty of course) had looked upset to see us out in our garden - so we were installing a privacy fence. Neighbour Numpty looked hurt and bewildered, and also managed to really piss me off by 'granting permission', saying in a tight little voice 'Well, no, if you and Paul want a little privacy in THE garden, go on then with your fence'. As though Paul and I were walling off part of a shared garden (it's not, we checked the title deed) and in essence shutting them out and she was hurt by the shunning.

Paul cannot keep himself from chuckling nastily - he installed the fence panels in a way that COMPLETELY blocks their view into the kitchen window from the top of the stair. I can stand in total privacy from them to hang out washing - the fence is high enough that I can't be in our back garden and see into her window now, either, thus ending the awkward eye aversion I practiced to maintain their privacy.

He's so thrilled with it all he's gone onto installing a privacy panel and gate across the footpath, and is building a new stair from our footpath up to the back garden - soon, to reach OUR back garden we'll go out our back door, through the footpath privacy gate, and up the stair from our enclosed footpath. No more 'Oooh, there's Paul (or me), let's go talk to them!'

Sweet Jesus, it was like a several times a day ambush! Or gauntlet.

But now it's over.

Good fences make very, very good neighbours!

11 June 2014

Just half noon here in NE Scotland. I look at the calendar and see the date and understand why this song has been in my head all night and day.

I will never forget that night behind the El Monte Elks Club, all of us standing around the then 17yo you in awe, and me with my terrible crush on you and how good you and your sister Wilma were to me over the years, never once making fun of me about it. I'll never forget how one day we all went onto our own separate lives, and how one morning a few years ago on the way to work I heard on the radio that the second of the Quarry brothers had died.

This one is for you. May your next life be all this one should have been, Mike - and I hope you and Ellen find each other again.