Wednesday, 3 September 2008


I grieve privately. I tend not share my big sorrows or worries, unless it's absolutely necessary. This is necessary. Because she was something else, and you should know about her.

My Aunt Diane, my wonderful, vibrant, Auntie Di Di, passed away this evening. She raised four daughters, ironed hundreds of altar cloths, canned thousands of quarts of tomatoes and other vegetables, made hundreds of pints of jam, bottled gallons and gallons of home-made wine, baked and frosted several hundred cut-out Christmas cookies every year, and cross-stitched god alone knows how many projects, at least four of which adorn my house. She built great bonfires, taught me to swim, and how to put a minnow on a fishhook. She painted my skinned knees with iodine, greased me up with sunblock, and sprayed me with Off before she'd let me out to play in the summer.

Her love was something, as a kid, it was easy to take for granted because it was so obvious you didn't need to think about it.

She buried her parents, her twin brother, and her husband, and then, before she'd really had time to finish grieving my uncle, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I am not a violent woman, but the first person who asks me if she smoked may well get their teeth knocked out. Yes, she smoked. She smoked and drank and knew how to throw a hell of a party. She had a great, big, dirty laugh, bright auburn hair, and a delightfully crude sense of humour. She was awesome. You would've liked her. I loved her so much.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

My husband is a GOD.

I've been sniffling and coughing my way through the early stages of a nasty head cold. The weather today is lovely, and but for one quick trip down to the shopping precinct to pick up some micro meals from Marks & Sparks and various cold supplies, I've mostly been poking around online, or sitting in my chair next to the window in the conservatory, making granny squares, drinking apple juice, and feeling sorry for myself. My coldless streak has come to an ignominious and mucosal end, and at this point, I should probably just be grateful the sore throat is mostly gone. (I spent most of yesterday in deep denial, insisting the tingling sinuses and sore throat were obviously allergy-related. Or maybe I slept on my back with my mouth open. But it definitely wasn't aaaaaaaaa-CHOOO! Oh fuck.) I really, really hate sore throats, a legacy of a childhood spent getting one Strep infection after another. As an adult, I've mostly had the robust immune system of a sewer rat, but every now and then, some virus will fell me, and I just have to ride it out.

And do you know what that man did? He went out into the garden, mixed up a bunch of fertiliser and compost and spread it out over the rose beds. All by himself, without any help from his whinging, sickly wife. AND HE WEEDED, TOO. And when I thanked him, he said, "Aw, love, you already do so much around here. Just try to feel better."

If only I could breathe through my nose, I'd thank him properly.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

holiday planning

Well, the first two weeks of June will be our summer hols this year. Phil booked the time off, but of course, we haven't decided where we're going or what we're doing. We'll spend part of it at home, probably just hanging out and doing some work in the garden, by which I mean, "sitting on the patio, swilling Pimm's or mojitos." We definitely do want to get away though; our long weekend in London last autumn was the first holiday we'd actually gone somewhere in years. I suspect I'm basically a homebody at heart, but I truly am all in favour of going away for a bit, to let somebody else do the cooking and cleaning. I'm not very good at letting things go at home when I'm supposed to be relaxing.

So far, discussions have centred around Edinburgh, York, possibly London again, maybe Brighton -- although Brighton in early June sounds kind of nightmarish for crowds -- or, as an outside possibility, renting a cottage somewhere in Deep Wales. Cornwall or Devon sound tempting as well, but Phil and I are very, very bad at dealing with touristy places in tourist season (this would be why our holidays usually take place in autumn or winter) so we'd like to minimise that as much as possible. Everywhere you'd want to go in Britain is usually thronging with tourists, alas, so probably we should just decide where we really want to go, and then just suck it up and deal with the crowds.

At the moment, surprisingly, I find myself leaning to York. Phil did his undergrad there, and lived there on and off for about a decade, so he has loads of friends there and knows the place well. It's also where we went on our honeymoon, which I really couldn't enjoy at the time, as I was both ill and suffering from post-wedding nervous collapse. Possibly the least sexually-charged honeymoon ever, but I did love the place, and I'd like to see it when I'm feeling well.

Even though I love Brighton, I am not really a beach person, so crappy weather doesn't bother me a bit when I'm on holiday. I can't think of anything more boring than having to slather myself in super high SPF sunblock and then just sort of sit there in the sun. So in Brighton, we walk on the pier, because I must have my candy floss, wander up and down the hills and through the Shambles, and spend a lot of time sitting in nice pubs. Which, minus the pier, candy floss and hills, is probably exactly what we'd do in York, with a trip to the Minster and a walk along the city walls instead. See, now I'm getting very warm to the idea. The fact that I know for sure there is a good yarn shop in York has nothing to do with it.

Sunday, 20 April 2008


I found my camera this morning. Which is OK! My phone camera is only 3 megapixels, and thus not the kind of thing I'd use for anything other than a convenient snapshot device, and I really do like my elderly Lumix, so it's good to be able to put off buying a real camera for a while. I can always use Phil's D200 if I need to go superfancy or all macro, like with garden photos.

Speaking of the garden, I am dying to get out in it, but the weather just isn't quite there yet. We get the odd beautiful day, and the rest of the time it seems to be either raining or on the verge of raining, and if not actually cold, still decidedly chilly. In spite of my gardening jones being so far thwarted, I am feeling a hell of a lot better in general, due, I am certain, to the increased sunlight daylight. This winter was dreadful for me, in terms of depression and anxiety. It's not the cold, it's not the damp, it's the darkness. I've this bad tendency to think of depression, in myself, as self-indulgence and whining. Other people are depressed? I am very sympathetic. Me? I'm a whinger. I'm not sure why I hold myself to tougher standards than I hold others in this respect, but I definitely do.

This winter really, really sucked, with family issues (illness & injury, mainly) and the crappy weather, and this awful feeling of general malaise, much of which I attribute to how hopeless the news feels. I'm really not capable of being one of those people who can blithely ignore politics and current events, but sometimes, I think it would do me good to unplug from it for a couple of days, just because I reach a point where everything gets viewed through my Oh God, We're Dooooomed filter, and that is just no way to live. For one thing, it's annoying to others. I really don't want to be that horribly negative person who brings everybody else down. Well, yeah, things suck, but they aren't going to stop sucking just because I've got this perverse need to make myself unhappy. Because, you know, something bad might happen if I ever slipped up and allowed myself to be happy and enjoy my life for a minute or two.

So I'm working on that, and the end of winter is very helpful. I can open up my conservatory pretty early most days (the conservatory is unheated, has no electricity and is unusable in winter. It really needs double glazing at a minimum), and being able to sit out there, first thing in the morning, drinking coffee, knitting, and watching the little birds hopping about, does me a world of good. Everything is in bud, or putting on new growth. The daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinths are in bloom, the bluebells and lilacs are coming along, and it looks as if the wisteria we planted our first summer here is finally going to give us a proper show this year. And, oh god, there is so much to do out there. Weeds are everywhere, we need to mulch and turn the compost heap, the patio needs a good cleaning, the bramble is very close to out of control, and that goddamn ivy is making me mental. But those are all things I can do something about, and I will, just as soon as the weather gets a bit better. I'm looking forward to planting my tomatoes and herbs and sweet peas, and tending my little patch of the earth.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The technology report

Given that my mobile phone is ancient, and I've misplaced my camera, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get a camera phone today. It is very shiny and sexy, and I cannot wait for it to finish charging so I can start taking pictures with it. I hope I like it, because I assure you, unless it gets lost, broken or stolen, I will have it for a very long time, not because I'm cheap or dislike spending money (oh, how people who know me would laugh at that idea), but because I get weirdly attached to things, and am not very keen on change. I mean, I love the shiny, sexy laptops and cameras and mobile phones, and I would probably enter into a bigamous marriage with my iPod, if it were legal, but I find the process of changing over from, say, one computer to another, to be incredibly tiresome. I make a very bad geek. I run my cars into the ground, I will baby a failing appliance until it actually up and dies on me, and even if the sky above me suddenly started raining money, I doubt either of those things would change.

Phil's a great geek, because he loves that shit. And because he enjoys the whole setting up/tweaking process, I usually can talk him into doing the stuff I regard as tedious gruntwork. I'll be replacing my elderly Powerbook soon, which I am frankly dreading, even though mine is just about knackered, and I've mostly been using his for a couple of months now. I've got so much stuff on mine, and the idea of moving it all over sort of makes me want to cry.

The good part, though, is that I've recently discovered that once I do make the switch, it's done. The old object in question is now dead to me, and I do not wallow in nostalgia. The mobile phone is dead, long live the mobile phone!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Why, hello there!

Dear god, I have had to make so many upgrades and changes between Google/Yahoo/Flickr/Facebook mail accounts that remembering which account is associated with what has driven me to mostly ignore all of them.

I think I have it now. This is mostly just a test post. Still knitting, still running 3WA, still on Ravelry, in a moment of madness joined Twitter, and, oh, taught myself to crochet.

I am still 40.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


I turned 40 earlier this week, and it did not kill me. After all the Drama and all the Angst, on the actual day, it didn't bother me at all. The wine, jewelry and fawning attention from my husband may have helped somewhat, but I suspect my relative calm has something to do with the commencement of a new decade. If my 40s go anything like my 30s did, I probaby won't give my actual age much more thought until I start creeping dangerously close to 50.

Besides, a couple of weeks ago, I was standing in the queue at the offy, and saw one of those old lady magazines with Joanna Lumley on the cover and the headline JOANNA: 60 IS THE NEW 40. Which, by that logic, makes 40 the new 20, and if it's good enough for Patsy Stone, it's good enough for me.