16 August 2017

It all really does change when you have children. My oldest grandson is 13 now and his parents have had a sort of a too-close-for-comfort encounter with reality the past month.

Fox had a first serious girlfriend - lovely girl with a large family; she was Mormon, he is not and the relationship ended after three years of his failing to find it within himself to convert.

He then had a second really serious girlfriend - another lovely young woman with a large family spread across the world. Not particularly religious, entertainingly eccentric types with great heaps of generosity, warmth, and erm, well, something of an unconventional outlook on life. Wonderful young woman, wonderful family. But that relationship also ended after a couple of tumultuous years (and would go on, off, on, off again for several more years until she married someone else and pretty much lived happily ever after).

And he fell in love with the second serious girlfriend's best friend (with 2cnd girlfriend's hearty approval. I think). And one day they telephoned (I was still living in SE AL) to announce she was pregnant and they were probably getting married. Some day. Ahem. We're still awaiting that 'some day' but it does look closer now than it has the past 13 years. She's grown, he's grown, and their son is AMAZING. They're cautiously exploring the idea of getting back together and if they do I'll be over the moon happy for them.

Fast forward through the painful years (during which my son and I had an acutely painful on-off-on-off relationship, beginning really from the time he was 16). I think those painful years are well and truly over now, and the past month brought it home in an especially frightening yet in the end incredibly happy way.

My son's second girlfriend's youngest sister, now 25 years old, was kidnapped five weeks ago, got away from her abductors, escaped into the woods and managed for 28 days to survive on her own in the swampy-woody-'gator-snake-bat infested SE AL woods until she found her way to a highway and got herself rescued by a passing motorist.

Talking to my son (regular telephone calls back to America) two days ago he told me she'd been found and was in hospital recovering. HALLELUJAH!

And he told me about the sheer horror he'd felt when during the last week 2cnd girlfriend's sister was missing (and beginning to be presumed dead by just about everyone) he couldn't reach his son's mother OR his son - they both weren't answering their mobiles at the arranged phone times and he told me he'd become utterly and completely panicked. He said during the time he couldn't reach them he knew exactly what 2cnd girlfriend's family was experiencing, particularly her parents, and he finally completely understood what he'd put me through over the last 20 years.

It all really does change when you have children.

Thank-you God, all the saints and angels, and the Wood Folk (or faerie or Wee Folk, or whatever you prefer to call them) for watching over 2cnd girlfriend's youngest sister during her 28 days lost in the woods. Calling her survival a miracle doesn't begin to cover it.

Welcome home, Lisa!

17 July 2017

Gutted. The 13th Doctor will be a Pathetically Correct female. The 'actress' is a casting choice by the only TV director who ever casts her - go figure that one, eh?

Worse, she's not a very good actress to begin with. Her biggest 'claim to fame' is the character she portrayed (badly by viewer reports including mine - she was so wretched I and many others deliberately blocked out her whiney screeching every time she hove into view). Oh, and her stripping off for full frontal nudity on screen and stage.

Well, BBC has killed off the Doctor Who franchise - the last real Dr Who episode will be shown at Christmas during which the amazing and badly done-by Peter Capaldi 'regenerates' into this PC female. I'll be wearing a black armband embroidered with 'RIP DR WHO' that day and the day the first Jodie Whittaker episode is broadcast.

11 July 2017


Yes, I'm still on the 'back-up' laptop. Grrrrrrr!

On the up side, however, the ever-increasing frustrations at being stuck with this situation for the foreseeable future is I'm getting quite a lot of offline things done now I'm not enjoying the wonders of fast-frustration free 'Net surfing on my MacBook. I'm virtually un-plugged and while it's been a somewhat painful process I do find I'm more productive. (But really, how many embroidered doilies-placemats-table runners-Christmas tree skirts - blouse collars and cuffs does one really need?)

My right side continues to improve  - I can almost reach behind my back now. Very little pain nowadays unless I hold my shoulder in the wrong position or try to lean forward and lift more than 8oz. (IE: I still can't lean down into the back of the pot cupboard to retrieve my stockpots without screaming. Sigh. One day. Perhaps...)

Paul's conditions (Asperger's AND coeliac AND idiopathic hypoglycaemia) have been challenging but we bumble along and 2017 so far appears to be the year we've essentially cracked it. Organising his diet correctly makes a considerable difference; his Asperger's is being so neatly managed now we rarely even notice it (no melt-downs in the supermarket or other high-stress public places, for example, now we know when to shop and when to leave a venue). I keep the fridge and pantry well stocked with gluten-free foods he can snack on at will (yeah, so, I am spending A LOT more time in the kitchen making all this stuff from scratch), and have found good-tasting protein rich foods he can grab when he feels his blood sugar dropping.

About the only food I haven't worked out how to make reliably is bread - and our Paulie loves his bread. So much so he sneaks out to the shops for a baguette to chew down on the walk home, or to the High Street Greggs for a forbidden sausage roll. Which does lead to set-backs in not only his food related conditions but also his Asperger's (that's right, you try holding your temper when months of hard work regulating someone's diet is blown to hell by a Greggs sausage roll cheat and he's sick  - it's nigh well impossible not to point out to him if he'd not cheated his diet, he'd feel well. An Aspie doesn't take well to being reminded of certain things when those certain things are his own fault. He then sulks for a few hours (or days, depending) until we get his diet sorted again.

Autumn is now so close I'm going through all the winter things (clothes, blankets, food stores) - hope to have that done soon so I can get back to the embroidery frame. I tried crocheting and knitting a few things this past 16 months since wreaking my right side and apparently (according to my ex-DIL and physiotherapist) the needed wrist-forearm twist to make stitches is the problem. I think I am creatively satisfied with embroidery but the blanket box and woolly caps hooks by the door could use topping up - not being able to hold a crochet hook or knitting pins is beyond annoying!

Right. The elephant in the room...

Donald Trump is POTUS, Theresa May is (for now, apparently there is some real doubt as to her staying power) PM, and that little nutter in NK can now shoot an nuke-tipped ICBM as far as Alaska. Freedom of speech (and most other civil liberties here in the UK and over in the US, btw) is under attack in so many varied, insidious ways I'm genuinely frightened by what I'm seeing and having to not say to avoid having the very real Thought Polis to the door.

Brussels continues to shoot itself in the foot, Brexit is what the people voted for but the push to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union is quite strong from the cowardly who refuse to understand staying in the Single Market and Customs Union is not leaving the EU...things don't look good and I'm trying to prepare without earning the label 'hoarder'.

Scary times. No wonder I try to focus on what colours embroidery threads to use for another table runner.

11 March 2017

Eight days on a Microsoft Windows machine. Oh God, someone save me!

Worse, that nice young man at the Apple store telephoned yesterday to tell me it's going to take longer than expected to retrieve my files from the hard drive. And that the MacBook is so wrecked I'd actually be better off praying they can retrieve my files for transfer to a new MacBook.

And I'm ready to spend the money for a new MacBook. More than ready - I was ready the morning of Day three on this wretched piece of Microsoft rubbish.

I. Hate. Microsoft.

03 March 2017


Yesterday afternoon my Apple MacBook, a mere 9 years old with the original OS running on and so many 'temp files' that I always somehow forgot to back up, DIED. I shut it down to do the dishes and when I came back hours later (no, not that many dishes, just got distracted by real life:) and tried to boot up - IT WOULDN'T!!!

We took it down to the Apple repair place this morning and they are going to try to fix it, update it, and (to me) most importantly - retrieve all my files. The very nice young tech told me (as soon as my husband was out of earshot) they get this sort of thing all the time. He said he sees this all the time and the problem was more than likely owing to 9 years of accumulated dust, toast crumbs, and the occasional teeny-tiny splash of fizzy drink. He's not going to say that part about toast crumbs and fizzy drink anywhere my husband can hear, he's been sworn to secrecy (also a routine occurance, he said) and will simply say the problem was caused by accumulated dust. I should have it back in a month with upgraded guts and running like/better than new.

OH. MY. STARS. A month! I'm going to go stark raving mad having to endure using the back-up laptop!! It's an Advent running MS Win7 Premium. Which means it r u n s  v e r y   s   l   o   w. Insanely slow. Unacceptably slow.

I find myself wishing that nice young man had tried to sell me the latest MacBook Pro - something he said he wouldn't do as my 9 year old MacBook was in such good condition and could be easily upgraded to run the latest Apple OS and I'd be over the moon with the results of his tender attention to what he called an absolute classic MacBook.

On a plus side, he's going in after the files first which he will transfer to a stick and call me as soon as that is done - should be a week, tops, he said. So my photos, crafts, etc, files will be on the back-up laptop soon.

Ok, ok, ok - at least with this back-up laptop I'm online and owing to the more current OS and browser I can actually get to sites the outdated OS and browser refused to access. That's very nice. But not nice enough to end the bl__dy frustration of the unacceptably slow boot-up, the unacceptably slow page loads, the constant work stoppages when Microsoft issues yet another in an unacceptably long line of 'absolutely must have required updates'...that of course slow the fecking machine EVEN MORE!

OH GOD IN HEAVEN I MISS MY MACBOOK - Apple, you can be as arrogant as you care to be - your computers are AMAZING and being without mine is TORTURE!!

I gave up Internet shopping for Lent. And now I find myself wishing I could give up laptop use for Lent. But I can't - when the adult children and their children are 5 and 8 thousand miles across The Pond I have NO choice - I MUST BE ABLE TO CHECK MY INBOX.

God help me, it's going to be a VERY long month until my MacBook is back in my fevered little hands!

18 February 2017

Lent is fast approaching. I've got the gluten-free pancake mix stacked in the store cupboard and the maple syrup ordered. I've got the freezer fish drawer stocked with frozen fish fingers (for me as they come breaded and Paul can't eat them) and various fish fillets (no breading so I can dredge them with gluten-free cornmeal). And I'm in a serious scurry to get all my online shopping done...


Because this Lent, like the last one, I'm giving up online ordering and brick&mortar shopping. Just for Lent, and the Amazon gluten-free Subscribe and Save cat food and gluten-free supplies will not be given up - honestly couldn't make it without my monthly S&S order!

Online shopping, and in particular Amazon, has become my lifesaver. My shopping go-to. Since falling last March, getting out and about to browse the High Street shops is next to impossible - I'm always worried I'm going to fall or someone is going to jostle me, and riding in the motor for more than a half-hour is quite uncomfortable still. But Paul is finally onboard with the need to buy things to stock our home - when I came over he was the quintessential 'camping in a house' bachelor, he had NOTHING but three knives and a rather nice set (complete, I mean this set has EVERYTHING) of professional stainless steel cookware.

It's taken me nearly seven years but our house is finally just about properly stocked with bed linens, blankets (hand-knit/crocheted by me, blimey are decent blankets expensive here!), dishcloths (hand crocheted) and tea towels, crockery for dining and serving, kitchen utensils from knives and mini-food processor to cheese graters and cutlery. Slow cooker, ginormous electric frying pan (honestly, even Fox the chef says frying chicken in a skillet is next to impossible!), and the ultimate...BAKEWARE including three different types rolling pins. Thanks to online yarn and embroidery shops, and of course Amazon, we're really just about there.

And I admit, I buy nearly all mine and Paul's clothing off Amazon now although I do buy from Cotton Traders at least twice a year as well. And sewing-knitting-crocheting supplies. And embroidery supplies, and my latest crafting craze - purse frame bags. Yes, I know, but those vintage coin, clutch, and cross body ball clasp bags have become something of an obsession with me lately. If I couldn't shop online my crafting cupboard would be bare - we don't have good craft shops close enough to walk to, and the one 'craft supply' store (I won't mention the name but they just are too expensive for yarn and embroidery threads, and their sewing supplies section is dismal!).

Too, without Amazon, Paul would probably either starve or go off his coeliac diet. The supermarkets close enough to us to shop don't regularly stock the gluten-free products (ingredients mostly but also some of the baked goods mixes are so good I can't make them at home near as well) I need to cook and bake for him but Amazon does, and wow is the selection amazing!

I'm browsing-noting-wish listing on Amazon everyday. This morning I made one of the last pre-Lent housewares purchases (pie crust shields and a set of 21cm Duralex glass pasta bowls to go with the rest of the set I've slowly been building...). I just checked my vacuum cleaner bag supply and will need to order another box in the next few days. Last week I ordered three Lauscha (Germany) handblown clip on birds for the 2018 Christmas tree and I'm sniffling at the thought of not being able to order again from Germany for the full forty days of Lent - they list a GORGEOUS catalogue on Amazon and their post&packing cost is far less through Amazon than directly from their site. I'm really hoping Fox, and perhaps his sister and her children, will be here for Christmas 2018 (it's looking iffy but hope floats!) and I want the trees to be real stunners!

Giving up any online shopping, especially Amazon, for Lent is a serious sacrifice! We're so close to having enough housewares that not being able to hit the Amazon site regularly is going to be a genuine struggle for me. I keep busy crafting and not being able to shop for supplies during Lent is also a sacrifice - I make all our table linens and blankets myself and buy ALL my supplies online. And of course we need clothes...

January and February are two months 'scrurry-days' for me - I try to stock in everything I even think I may need so the temptation to go online and click 'add to basket' is lessened during Lent. I have to say - giving up online shopping last year worked SO well it was mid-May last year before I shopped online again!

Fox and his sister used to act as though they thought my online shopping was a sure sign I'm too old. Now both think I'm a genius. Which feels REALLY good:) The postie loves me, he says I and the other online shoppers on his route keep him in work:)

Once a month Paul and I force ourselves to go to the two best supermarkets locally and do a 'Big Shop'. I keep a running list  - yeah, on a spreadsheet - I print it out the morning we do the Big Shop and wowsa does that list keep us stocked for another month! The Big Shop is the only brick&mortar shopping I do nowadays. Once I can travel again, I'll do destination shopping, of course - so many craft shops-so little time!

Ftr, I do observe Lent 'properly' - the Lenten period is a time of reflection and self-examination, and I use the time to make needed spiritual changes to keep myself on the right path. This year I plan to get back into the habit of saying a daily rosary - the full five decades. I'm hoping saying it daily during Lent will lead to my saying it everyday of the year again.

Lent is a very important part of my life spiritually and materially, without Lenten observations I'm not really sure I would like myself.

08 January 2017

7th and 8th January are the saddest days of the year for me - I take down ALL the Christmas and New Year decorations. The lot - the trees (ok, yes, I'm a serial Christmas Tree decorator, one in every room but the powder and bathrooms where I content myself with a lovely fake poinsettia), the garlands (again, serial garland and Christmas card displayed as 'bunting' zig-zagging the front hall just above door height), the door wreath, the candle bridges (if you've never seen one, Google candle bridges - they're GORGEOUS), the fake poinsettias strewn about the house...sigh.

The house ALWAYS looks so bare, so forlorn when everything is down and being cleaned then packed away for next year. This year I'm consoling myself with an embroidery project (a 'mantle cloth' to drape on the front hall shelf - a snowman motif, big woo) and a crocheted then stuffed 'snow family' (Mum, Dad, baby snowmen) to set on the shelf in the front hall next to the cordless phone handset and the 'page a day' desktop diary. The bowl of festive and fragrant potpourri that's been on that shelf for the last two years finally 'expired' (ok, read moulded, nasty really, I binned it and don't think I'll be doing 'festive and fragrant bowls of potpourri again. Ever)

I've even gone through all the Christmas cards received this year and wordDOTdoc'd the signatures (and addresses where people have been thoughtful enough to include them inside or on the back of the actual card) - very helpful when making out the next season greetings list!

On a much happier note, I FINALLY found a replacement 'finial' tree topper for our main Christmas tree to replace the one Fox accidentally broke when he was about four. That thing had been in the family since 1926, I'm not sure how Fox got ahold of it but he did and of course it broke into a thousand VERY sharp and dangerous bits and of course I bit my tongue and cheek until blood trickled down my chin - and of course I hid the copious tears from Fox. I did my crying in the cupboard. And now I've found a reproduction of the EXACT one that was on my father's childhood Christmas trees, my childhood and several of my adult years (well, you know, until Fox...) Christmas trees.

I've finally got Mr Curmudgeon completely sold on Christmas decorating. He hid in the study as I de-decked the halls, and went a bit red-eyed when I came for his study Christmas tree. He came into the bedroom where I have the decorations ready for packing away, looked for a long minute, sighed, then fled for the sanctuary of his study again.

I've also got him hooked on classic Christmas movies. He now says 'It's Christmas!' the first time Polar Express is broadcast - no matter, apparently, that we own a DVD of that and other classics like It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (we both blub a little when Father Christmas speaks Dutch to the young refugee), White Christmas, and of course Santa Claus the Movie (which is naff beyond belief but now when my Paul sees garish Christmas decor he says 'Oh no, more 'Patch Christmas!' in reference to, well, you have to see the movie to know what I mean).

AND - I AM FINALLY CHRISTMAS STORAGE ORGANISED!! Yes, Paul is so into Christmas (finally!) he was perfectly happy (ok, mostly perfectly happy, he did grump about the horrific traffic) to drive me down to Dundee to Dunelm Mill for the plastic storage box sale so we won't lose any decorations again. (sigh. There is still a cardboard box missing (tree skirts, lights sets, hand-glittered pinecones) but almost everything is here.) I now have the fake evergreens in one long box, and three more boxes of baubles, new skirts, mantle displays, etc - everything sorted according to type and I really couldn't be happier about that organisation!

Bonus, I've finally managed to sell Paul on the gorgeousity of vintage-look reproduction glass baubles, so much so we've 'wish-listed' several sets on AmazonUK to buy one set per month. Best? Best is he's finally agreed fake evergreens are completely fab and we're buying a 6 foot Balsam Hill PE 'most realistic' tree for next year. He's also decided he rather likes the look of icicle lights along the roofline, and the topiary boxwoods flanking the front door are going to have their own set of lights as well...

OMGosh - it's going to take me a week to decorate, and four days to take it all down January 2018! YAY!!!! (No, really, I'm really looking forward to Christmas 2017 - God willing we'' still be here and enjoying a lovely Christmas:)