Life, photos but not the universe

My eyes are blind with streaming tears

Nothing to do with the final departure of nearly everyone, even Eldest and Marmite, but more to do with the preparations for the arrival of nearly everyone – else – tomorrow night.   Happy NYE everyone 🙂

No, the streaming of tears (misquoted from Strawbs’   ‘ The Hangman and the Papist(Warning don’t look this one up for fun – it’s a trifle gloomy, not to say tragic.  We used to sing it with gusto and enthusiasm, a longish while  ago when we were much younger and sang in a folk group) is to do with onions, chilli and other powerful stuff which, as I speak is bubbling and simmering with evil complacency in the kitchen.  Barney assures me that when he adds potatoes to it, it will not blast it’s way across the taste buds and cause heat explosions among innocent  bystanding sinuses while the forebrain is still wondering which part of this experience contains chicken.  Myself, I’m planning on laying in large stocks of yoghurt, since the streaming eyes have been happening in the next room to the cooking – a supposedly safe distance from the fumes and steams of the curry 🙂

(Meanwhile a  staid and homely shepherd’s pie is cooking in the oven – I shall stock up tonight).

I have no idea what day of the week it is.  Christmas on a Thursday?  NYE on some other midweek day?  Babysitting the GB’s on a 29th?  Eldest leaving on a Tuesday?  What kind of days are those for me to understand?  When is the weekend?  When is anything?

Never mind, Eldest and I went for a walk with Marmite and Nutmeg today and we took a lot of photos of Marmite who is demonstrably more photogenic than Nutmeg.  (such tasty dogs we have). We all enjoyed this and I made sure that a lot of my photos included Eldest himself – I see little enough of him and am already missing him, so his Christmas present (one of those gadgets that displays digital photos on a little screen) will be a nice reminder – especially when I’ve uploaded some of today’s pics to it.

dogs and photographers play

dogs and photographers play

Another exciting present, which arrived this afternoon – a ‘more brain training’ programme to add to my current nintendo game thingie.  I am so looking forward to playing with this :)* I may do a little training before tomorrow when the house needs to be tidied before a much reduced horde of NYE guests arrives (the lack of official invites made them all think we weren’t doing it this year in respect of Barney’s 60th which follows all too soon upon the heels of the winter festivities!)  And the rest of them are suffering from the same chesty thing we are soon going to recover from.  Well I am.  I’m not sure about Himself – he may need to indulge in a bout of Man Flu before complete recovery from the cold. Grandad (the Great one) and Barney are now stewing gently in the sitting room**, awaiting Shepherd’s pie. There will be peas with it and some really wonderful gravy I discovered in the freezer.  I don’t know when this gravy was so intelligently put away but it’s FANTASTIC!

Ooh!  I knew I shouldn’t have gone near the computer!  Got to run away to bed!

Good Night, sleep tight, keep warm (it really is freezing – a little bit)

And in case I don’t get back before –


*Thank you Thursday and Joe Brown 🙂 xxx

**Stewing as in sleeping in a hot room in front of a luke warm TV and a glowing fire, It’s ok, I haven’t put them in the pot along with the curry:)

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Amazingly, everyone got fed.  Even us.

We caught Barney’s apprentice’s cold and since we spent Christmas itself with Youngest and her Partner (minus the gorgeous babes who were all with their other parents) the theory was that we would have a ‘grown up’ Christmas.

Well I suppose only grown-ups could have consumed the amount of food and drink and cigarettes that we did.  And probably only grown ups could have stayed up quite so late.  But to be honest it wasn’t really very grown up.  Lots of fun though.  Only maybe we should have considered pacing ourselves a bit since we were cooking for 9 on Boxing day and 13 the day after. With breakfasts according.  And of course we didn’t realise how bad Barney’s apprentice’s cold was going to be until after we’d thoroughly overdone ourselves on Christmas night.

We croaked and sneezed our way through all the arrivals and preparations and feasts and snuffled and coughed our way to bed early every night.  And then beamed mistily and blearily upon the gathered hordes.

Anyway, now there’s only us and Great Grandad and Eldest.  It’s astonishingly quiet and peaceful.  I’m going to bed early.  Earlier, Eldest and Youngest and her partner and the three Gorgeous babes and the two dogs went for a walk (Middle Girl, her Husband, Sister in Law and her dog having left earlier in the day) .  It still looks like quite a lot of people 🙂dsc_2394-1

Anyway, I am now trying to resist the temptation to smoke with Eldest (who is supposed to be giving up anyway) since my cough has got slightly less alarming and the temptation is getting stronger.  And thinking what a shame I wasn’t feeling up to any early mornings (since they all seemed to be wonderfully sunny and dramatic when viewed with eyes half shut, from the bathroom window).  It now seems to be quite astonishingly cold again, though maybe too windy for frost.

Eldest has just taken Marmite out for a last convenience and it occurs to me that I should also take Nutmeg out or at least stand in the doorway, shivering, while he makes swift use of the facilities :).  Then I shall dose myself with anti-cough, sore throat and heartburn stuff and go and get the bed full of hot water bottles.  We’ll both need them!

Sleep well everyone.  Hope you didn’t catch any colds this Christmas 🙂

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Christmas – once a year – um – 13 – ????

I’m not sure how it happened but I’ve miscounted heads.

Considering the number of times this house has overflowed with bodies, you’d think I’d know by now how many we can sleep and where we might put them.  And as long as one or two of them don’t mind sharing a room  we definitely have enough rooms.  But not enough beds.

Well I’ll just have to get on the phone tomorrow and borrow 🙂

It’s a good job none of us is superstitious – we’d have to borrow another person or two as well!

Well at least there are enough quilts!  I think.  Though I’ve finally become convinced that the covers don’t all match in size.  I’m not sure how I’ve ended up with three spare double covers and one short in king sizes!  Also one whole spare single quilt!  I’m so tempted to just go out tomorrow and buy another cover. It really irritates me knowing they don’t all get properly covered. Like not having all the mugs on their proper shelf or not knowing that the odd socks have matching halves in the next wash.  ‘Somebody’ not putting all the tea and coffee and sugar back in their places in the morning.  D’you think I’m getting old and pernickety?

Ah well, the cards have all finally gone and I’m just going to do a Christmas email for the younger members of the family who I’m sure will forgive me for not putting pen to card – If only I knew how to work that Facebook thingie I could probably do them all in one fell swoop 🙂

Anyway, in case I don’t get another chance here…….

Happy xxxxxxxx

Happy xxxxxxxx

Lots of Love to you all, my virtual friends.   I shall be thinking of you and may well be unable to resist a quick, late night, slightly less than sensible post but in the mean time, I hope you all have the most wonderful Christmas and holiday and lots of rest and lots of good company.  I hope the weather is exactly how you’d like it.

Wishes, hugs and xxxxx ‘s to you all 🙂

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

There’s a bit of a drama gene in the family

Show stealer

Show stealer

I thought you might like to see the small people trying out their wedding gear.  It’s clear that Gorgeous Babe is her mother’s daughter.  There was some banter about the little lad protecting his sisters from assassins (or was it wolves?) but what assassin (or wolf) would dare approach the regal lady in the middle? 🙂

Yay!  I’m so excited!

Well.  Barney’s Mum was a born performer.  Deprived of any possible chance of fulfilling her abilities in any professional way (and I doubt she ever thought of doing so) she was the star of a good many old folks shows and ran a fitness group and taught reading for adults.  And she had ‘Style’ in great quantities.

Her eldest son and her daughter both excelled at peformance of any kind.  Daughter (the famous author) studied dance and drama and taught drama.  Son (my spouse) sings, plays guitar and is a very competent and effective chairman and MC.   If you want a reading or a speech, he’ll do you a good one 🙂

Youngest was the most fantastic dancer at college and sings like a bruised angel.  The few acting performances she did at school and at college were extraordinary.*  She was the best front of house manager the PK (local gastro pub) ever had and plans to teach when she’s finished her OU degree.

So it’s no surprise that GB has the presence and the charm she has.  Which is probably too much for her own good.  But she’s well disciplined and much loved and as long as she continues to follow in her Mother’s footsteps, we don’t need to worry.  Not too much anyway 🙂

It’s only fair to mention that her siblings-to-be are also utterly sweet and delightful (though I’m told the little lad can be, well a bit of a little lad. And quite inventive with it).  One day I hope to learn a lot more about their father who is a very lovable and entertaining man.  ‘Cos it’s always interesting to see who’s chipped off the old block and who’s the outsider.

*Yes, I’m biased but also hypercritical.  She was good.  when she appeared on the stage all the Mums and Dads stopped cooing to each other for a moment.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Sorry, I’ve been absent

Too much going on!  Visits, meetings, concert, unexpected turnups and a dishwasher.

The dishwasher took up most of last night.  It was a Christmas gift from Youngest and her Partner (that is to say, he obtained it for us and when we asked how much it was he said we could have it for Christmas!)  So last night we unwrapped it and dismantled most of the kitchen in order to find the plug and got the machine into place and then remantled the kitchen.  Just one small flaw in this lengthy operation – we forgot to switch the plug on before the remantling.*

Otherwise, isn’t it amazing how far those little polystyrene balls will travel once they’ve escaped from their original block.  Isn’t it annoying (if you were brought up on plugs which had to be changed regularly and had red for live and black for dead – I mean as in ‘not live’ , not as in ‘Flash Bang , you’re Dead’) how difficult it is to remember what blue and brown are supposed to mean.  Isn’t it infuriating how the new little bits of plug wire don’t really go back into the plug after you’ve got the old ones out.  And also how easy it is to cut through fine copper and how hard to cut through plastic wire insulation.

We spent what seemed like most of the weekend at Youngest’s, meeting the other couple who are going to be Partner’s witnesses at the wedding in the frozen North – they were absolutely lovely people, hence, although we really only stayed one night, it felt more like a month and took the next three days to recover.  We are too old for all night sessions!

A litle bit of urban magic – When I was taking the dog for a late night walk at Youngest’s house (we forgot to organise a dog sitter so he came with us) we saw an urban fox.  At least I saw it and it saw us and even watched us ambling along the road from the cover of the bushes.  Cars went past and illuminated his little pointy face and ears peering out from the undergrowth and then he ran though the grass and branches and melted away.  Nutmeg saw nothing and even didn’t smell the place where fox crossed the road in front of us.

And a little bit of rural magic -Some time last week, I looked out of my kitchen window and found myself watching a roe deer who just happened to be passing and was wondering what that watery noise was (Old, leaky dishwasher).  The deer saw me looking through the window and left fairly swiftly – much too fast for me to get the camera and creep outside to get a photo.  Does this mean as well as taking my camera everywhere I go I even have to have it poised at all times in the kitchen? The loo?  The bath?  Gaah!  and Barney would take a very dim view of it coming to bed with us 🙂

Last week an enormous filling fell out of my mouth!  Just fell out!  Yesterday my favourite (still the only one I have) dentist plugged the hole again and graciously allowed that I could eat with it today.  Eating on one side is very time and thought consuming I find.  Good for dieting so maybe I lost a little bit of weight last night?  I haven’t checked  🙂  Another thing in life that I find amazing is how different all the different parts of the mouth feel under the influence of anaesthetic.    F”rinstance, when the lower jaw is anaesthetised, there seems to be far too much stuff in there.  I feel as if someone made a mistake as it reassembles itself during the day and put an extra mouth in there somewhere.  but when it’s just the lower jaw, there seems to be an empty, echoing chasm.  An absence of something huge and I find myself wondering if Mr Dentist forgot to put back some vital part.  As it turns out, he didn’t and this morning it’s all present and correct and I may now relearn how to eat with both halves of my face 🙂  I will try not to eat twice as much!

Well, I really ought to get a bit of a move on.  As usual, I haven’t done more that half of what I planned and every morning I’m expecting to wake up and find that Christmas has arrived without telling me.  (Let me know if it has and I missed it?)

an after-dentist treat

an after-dentist treat

Busy busy bother.  I’m going to go on being absent for a bit.

Miss visiting you all but I really have to try and get stuff under control – stuff, and myself!
Lotsa love anyway 🙂

And random hugs, flungs out into the virtual.

And xxx’s blown away into the aether.

(catch : )

*Our kitchen is very tightly fitted into the space allotted for it.  The plugs for the cooker and dishwasher are behind the drawers which would be fine if someone had thought to cut a hole in the side panels that a plug would fit through.  Unfortunately they didn’t and so to fit a new appliance, you have to remove drawers and then take the new plug off and someone has to make themselves very small, squish their body into  a dark space, press their ear against a spider’s nest or fifty (mouse skeletons are optional and probably seasonal) and feel around a blind corner to  push the wire through a very small hole (Someone actually thought of this part – why on earth didn’t they make the hole big enough for a plug instead of just big enough for a wire?????) into the space behing the drawers.  Someone else has to bend themselves into an unnatural shape and make a very long arm to reach into the dark and feel around for the emerging  (if you’re lucky) wire.  Then, and only then, can you begin the long business of getting the old plug onto the new wire!

(Update – the dishwasher works like a dream and is as quiet as one.  Fantastic)

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Left my brain on holiday

Either that or I’ve got  FYOSAIAIFCU syndrome (Fifty Years Of Self Abuse, Indulgence And Indolence Finally Catches Up).  I suspect the latter but it could just be temporary, to be cleared up when the brain arrives, like baggage from the airport.  Panting slightlyand a bit pink around the frontal lobes.

I hadn’t realised how near Christmas Panic time the holiday was.  Until I got back and counted the weeks remaining.  Now it’s days.  People are saying lets have a pre-Christmas meeting, lets organise the office do (In our case that’s just the three lads and their partners and no-one’s mentioned that so far), don’t forget the mummers on Christmas eve, don’t forget the Concert THIS WEEKEND!!!!!.  Cards are arriving!!!!  The children are negotiating for special presents they’re hoping Santa will give them. Oh and Christmas is on a Thursday!  Who’s idea was that?  How am I supposed to get my head around a mid-week Christmas may I  ask?

And somehow, I still haven’t sent all the invites for Barney’s Birthday do in February – the remainder of the invites will say Happy Christmas on them and I suspect that other Christmas cards will get forgotten!

And speaking of cards, I received some very very special ones only the other day – last week actually now I think about it.  Oh such lovely and personal ones.  I feel better about the whole CH panic thing immediately, somehow, those cards made it all look a bit less ridiculous and reminded me to feel more Christmassy 🙂  Also very lovely to have been thought about more than once.  How to make a cross, grumpy bunny feel special and cared about in three easy envel0pe openings 🙂

I wanted to do some visiting in November.  that’s gone.  I thought I might do it in December – Hah!  Well, next year beckons.  Fortunately the NYE party practically runs itself these days – everyone assumes they’ll be back this year and no doubt any minute Barney will be asking who we’ve invited to that!  We haven’t – they’ll have to invite themselves.  I’m sure they will 🙂

Now I must, really must, do some more invites, practice for the concert (got a lesson this afternoon) put some socks on, eat (??? now?Oh ok), make some more coffee and, Oh!  Should I ring the dentist about the filling that fell out last night?   Naah! Leave it till Monday and eat soft food all weekend.

And isn’t it really really cold!  And getting dark out there.  Dark for midday anyway.  There’s a kind of heavy look to the sky – I wonder…….

Well here’s the view from Bucklebury church graveyard yesterday evening.  It was nice in a chilly, wintry sort of way

winter afternoon

winter afternoon

(heavy sky is starting to empty out as rain.  Oh well, snow another day maybe 🙂

Oops!  Rain!  Dog!

Poor wet dog 😦  Very happy to be let in for once!

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

If there is any justice….

My lovely Sister-in-Law, the Author of A Handful of Earth, has applied to the Royal Literary Fund for a writer’s grant.  We’ve just written a letter of support, detailing the difficulties she has had during the long years of her husbands illness with cancer – his struggle and hers.  I have to say, this made us both feel weepy all over again on her behalf.

If you’ve read the book (I know some of you did when it first came out) you’ll know she deserves some help to continue writing and if you’ve been in the situation of trying to produce creative work while battling financial and emotional crises and bringing up children you’ll know that it’s sometimes impossibly hard.

I so want her to be able to write much more, for my own selfish pleasure and for her sake – she’s a born and talented writer.

Just asking for wishes, prayers, positive vibes – whatever you do best 🙂

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

More odds – and bits

This is worth looking at.

And this is quite hypnotic.


Boat with funny eyes

The new version of wordpress (Updated and introduced without my consent or knowledge a few days ago) is giving me a few hiccups.  I just noticed that in the last couple of posts there were no links from the pictures to bigger views. (which of course you may not want anyway but I always do :).  So now I’m sticking random pictures here and there trying to work out where to make them link.

(Also this will tell me if posts are published in order of starting to write them or of completion and publishing.)

Update – it must have been a WP glitch.  I didn’t do anything to this one!

Even more updated – Bother! Now I shall have to delete and replace the last six pictures!

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Just checking a thing.

And now I’ve checked it, this was taken late one night – in fact possibly just as my birthday began 🙂

John and Linda had gone to bed and Barney was down in the boat getting ready.  Which meant that as he moved from one side to the other, the boat tipped.  And I was outside, balancing the camera on the roof trying to click only when he’d settled in one place or another for the requisite number of seconds – ie, while he stood still brushing his teeth, while he sat still (you don’t want to know any more about that bit but it was long enough for two or three shots) and whike he was standing in the cabin, getting into his pyjams.

I could tell where he’d got to in the bedtime routine by the fuzziness of my results 🙂  It was interesting to say the least 🙂dsc_0381-2

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Odds and sods

For instance the dustmen are here, my back aches, late last night I seemed to have lost 1/4 of a stone but this morning I’ve gained a bit of that (I thought it was supposed to work the other way round), the piano tuner came yesterday and made poor old Joanna sound a bit happier (and as usual, he offered me a replacement piano which I can’t afford), I have to go and collect a dishwasher this afternoon and I didn’t get up early to catch the dawn.

See.  Nothing much to say for myself at the moment, though I do manage to use up half a post saying it 🙂

Still the sun is shining.

A strange but pleasing thing.  Three herons have taken to standing in the field out back, early in the morning and late in the afternoon.   I don’t know what draws them there?  Mice?  Frogs? Other small dinners, struggling through the tangled clover stems?  I’m guessing it must be to do with the clover – it was a new crop this year and we’ve never had clover or herons out back before.  No hares so far this winter either.  Maybe I just can’t see them as the clover is long and lumpy or maybe they don’t enjoy grazing on it.

Anyway, the other day, the herons were sitting in the biggest oak tree along the side of the field.  This seems most unusual to me!  And they look quite exotic up there!  Too far away of course but I dug out the old panansonic which has a tremendous zoom.

Perching herons

Perching herons

Then I indulged in sparkles in the corkscrew hazel in the front garden.  The panasonic was always very obliging about sparkles and the Nikon does a completely different (and less accessible) kind of sparkle.

sparkles in a corkscrew

sparkles in a corkscrew

So much to learn.

And here are the stars from the other night.  The camera argued about what it could and wouldn’t do and I think there was a tiny bit of a wobble involved – in spite of the tripod.  The stars appear to be moving very slightly.  Well they probably are of course and so are we but not enough to register on a motionless camera at such enormous distances.  At least I don’t think so?

Time to read the manual again.  No camera should be clever enough to refuse to take pictures so I must be telling it something it doesn’t understand (what exactly doesn’t it understand about ‘click’ ?)

No, here are not the stars.  The computer won’t upload them.  At least it says it has but then it stops in the middle of ‘crunching’.  For a long time.  Then it says error number 10 in red.  All very clear and incomprehensible.

Well and I’ve bought us two hot water bottles.  I discovered a while ago that an HWB placed against the large of my back (ie, my backside) actually keeps me warm.  I’ve never understood why the large of my back should suffer so much from the cold at night but it does and no amount of tucking in will keep it warm.  Can I have poor circulation to my backside?  It’s quite large but surely not so enormous that the blood supply can’t reach it.  (And no, I haven’t googled bad circulation and big  bums.  I don’t want to know).

So we both get into a bed with a nice little warm spot and then Barney throws his out, I replenish mine and snatch his to use the last of its heat for my feet and lean the refilled one against said largeness.  Works a treat 🙂

I shall try stars one more time and then I shall go and do many useful and important things.

stars - oak tree

stars - oak tree

Not the same photo.  A smaller file.  I suppose if I’d waited for ever and a day the machine would eventually have succeeded in crunching but I’m not known for my patience.  Also, youngest wants me to collect the dishwasher earlier as her big strong assistance is leaving early.

Oops!  I’d better get a move on!

Bye 🙂

Update – now I’ve re-uploaded the pictures you can actually see the sparkles in the corkscrew hazel.  At least six 🙂  I am a happy bunny.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments