Thursday, January 31, 2008

29,30,31 Jan 2008, Rain, Hail, Sleet, Snow

We've had the full gamut of showers the past few days. Today especially we had rain, hail, sleet and snow. Yesterday and last night the wind was amazing too. It says tomorrow will be bitter. Well, if today isn't bitter I don't know what it is! Stanley's been going at full pelt and keeping us snug and warm in our little cottage.

Gave me a chance to clear up a bit inside and put up the remaining set of curtains in our bedroom. They are quite thick and dark and we slept in late this morning! Can't tell whether it's light or dark. Other than that, eating, drinking, sleeping, playing scrabble on Facebook and feeding cats it's been fairly uneventful.

My Granddaughter Kirsty has been taken into hospital with suspected appendicitis. She has to wait for an ultrasound tomorrow to find out precisesly what the problem is. Worry worry. I sent her some flowers to cheer her up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

To Jan 28th, Monday. SUNSHINE!!!

We've actually had 2 lovely days of sunshine and today wasn't bad, at least it didn't rain! This has meant we've been able to get out into the garden. Wonderful. The cats have spent most of the time out there with us and in the evenings, they've been exhausted. We've cut down some old branches of elderberry trees. They were half dead and very scruffy. More firewood for Stanley. I've pruned the fuchsia bushes hanging over the drive and widened the path up to the allotment. It was always a squeeze getting the wheelbarrow through there and now it's a great improvement. Not quite finished yet but already much better. Jim planted hundreds of bulbs, literally. I moved a couple of perennials that were in the wrong place, too tall to be at the front of the beds. Also weeded that particular bed, now it looks all smart.

I've de-ivied some of the remaining elderberry trees as they were more ivy than tree. All in all a most successful and satisfying few days. Ireland looks good again!

I've also been on a diet since I came back from the UK, to cut down on my cholesterol and to lose weight. I think I was about 11 stone 5lbs, now I'm 11 stone 1and a half. Much better. I've not found it too difficult really. Lots of fruit and veg, which I like. Cereal in the morning, which I always have but now, less of it!

Put one pair of curtains up in our bedroom. Much better than the blanket that was pinned up!! Just the other window to go. Jim overdid the gardening and sawing a bit the last couple of days, and barrowing wood down to the barn. His back is aching again. Still, it's nowhere near as bad as it was.

The garden is amazing considering it's still January. We have some daffodils in full flower! Lots of crocus have appeared over the past few warmer days, looking beautiful, their yellow, purple and white heads dancing in the wind. Some of the blue periwinkle is also in flower, plus a few snowdrops that we had planted at the end of last year. There should be many more of those soon. All the daffodils in the lawn are up about 8". Lots of primroses around the land are welcoming the sunshine too.

The birds still flock to the feeding station. Today we had siskins, blue and great tits, chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch, plus the usual robin and the occasional house sparrow. Spring seems on its way, but the weather forecast for the next few days is for wintry showers!

BlackJack is sitting on my lap while I try and type. He just pushed his head up to my chin then bit it!! Now he's crawled up to my shoulder. What a menace he is at times!

That's about it for now. Watched several quiz programmes on tv. The Weakest Link, Egg Heads, Mastermind and University Challenge!! That was enough tv for one day.

Large Edam cheese salad for dinner and I've just had an orange. How good am I?? Drinking vanilla tea too. Virtuous or what?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jan 26th, Where Does the Time Go?

Well, I have been to the UK via Shannon airport to Stansted. My daughter in law Sam picked me up from the airport with Jack, the adorable Grandson. He is a real chatterbox now and never stopped talking all the way home. 'We picked you up from the aeroplane from Ireland'. 'You're coming to stay at my house'. 'We can play cars'. Etc, etc!! I had a fabulous time and felt more comfortable in the UK than I have in Ireland. Ah well. We went to Bury St Edmunds (is he dead then?) and had lunch in a great little cafe. Jack was a 'hungry hamster' as he puts it! We visited a lovely park in Clare. The village of Clare is so pretty. We had lunch there too! We're good at the lunches bit.

My son Jason worked most of the time but did make the effort to stay up with me the first night and we chatted until about 1.15am. Considering he usually goes to bed about 10pm, that was pretty late for him and he also had to be up to visit a client in the morning. It was a great chat though.

On the Sunday, Ivor and Maureen came over for Sunday lunch. Roast beef and all the trimmings. Wonderful. It was good to see them and they both looked well, considering Ivor is in his 80th year.

The time seemed to fly by. I looked with some envy at the houses for sale. I do wish sometimes that I lived nearer my family.

Each morning Jack and Sam brought me a cup of tea in bed and Jack and I played in the bed with 2 of his cars - it's amazing what you can play with a 2 year old, and how many times the cars crashed.

Jack and Sam ran me to the airport on Tuesday afternoon. Jack cried as he wanted to come into the building to put me on the plane. Sam asked him yesterday if he misses his Gran and he said 'I'm sad'.

Back to the rain in Ireland and a colder house than I've been in for the past few days. Stoking Stanley, sawing wood. I was in a lousy mood and it resulted in a row with Jim. All sorted out now I've been here a few days.

I went to the doctors on Thursday for the results of my blood tests. Kidneys ok, liver ok, bloods ok, thyroid ok, cholesterol bad! Not as bad as they had said in the UK, but still 6.2, so far too high. So it's the big anti fat diet now and I'm starving most of the time. I'm also trying to lose some weight before the trip to Australia.

The cats visited the vets today, BlackJack for his second vaccination and Sandy because he once again has ear mites. They were pretty bad, especially in one ear and the vet spent about half an hour cleaning the muck out then putting drops in. He has given us some drops so we can keep an eye on his ears and use them if necessary. Sandy was not pleased with the whole procedure and has sulked most of the evening. BlackJack was tired but otherwise fine.

Bought some new furniture from Lidl's on Thursday, 2 book shelves for Jim's office and a cupboard, plus 2 cloth type wardrobes for the room above our bedroom. They're not wonderful but the one we had was collapsing, and with 2, we'll be able to spread the load a bit.

That's about it really. I want to get some curtains made for our bedroom and start doing my ATCs as soon as I can.

I've uploaded some photos, duck feeding, Jack feeding, Daddy reading a story, 'Jack in the box' with Daddy, plus others. How gorgeous is he??

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Weaving, Bad Back's Back, Jan 17, 2008

Yesterday I slept in after 6am bed. Jim was up and busy. He put a light in the little lobby between our kitchen door and the shower room the other side of the lobby. It was always a really dark hole and has made the world of difference. I can see the shelves in the lobby where I store toilet rolls, kitchen towels, cat food and other extraneous bits and bobs. Marvellous. However, he was a bit pooped afterwards and headed back to bed. I went outside and gathered up wood from the orchard then started clearing some of last years weeds. It was just getting dark when I disturbed something very loud, large and buzzy. Maybe a hornet. I ran like the wind and managed to get away from it! I did go back and collect the wheelbarrow full of wood but then headed back to the barn.

Barrowed another pile of logs from up by the gate, then inside to warm up. Jim had made some wondrous asparagus soup, which we had with his home made bread. Fabulous. Later in the evening I cut up a load of fruit which we had between us. Fresh and tasty.

I had a go at the loom again and have done about 6" of weaving. I am using wool but will have a go at my usual materials next, re-cycled things, more my style.

Today 2 books I had ordered from Amazon came. One of them is a bit battered which I'm a bit cross about as it's a new book. Both are on Artist Trading Cards, an art form which I know my daughter's wife Rachel does. You make these little cards, the size of a playing card and swap them with other artists. Can't wait to have a go.

Jim's back is playing up again and he's spent much of the day on the settee sleeping, having gone back to the painkillers. He's obviously been doing too much too soon.

I went out to get some more logs, in spite of the pouring rain! Put on my waterproof coat and took 2 loads into the barn and one load into the house. Sawed up some more small wood then felt decidedly poorly and came inside. Jim put me to bed, where I slept until 9.30pm. I still feel a bit odd. Had the remaining asparagus soup and some hummus and pitta bread. I hope I haven't caught something.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let's Get Weaving Tuesday, 16th Jan 2008

Not much to report really, except that my little table weaving loom arrived today. I haven't been able to get at my wool to try it out yet, but will have a forage tomorrow. More rain's been falling, just for a change. I did manage to get out to the orchard yesterday and carry on with the clearing there. I sawed off 4 branches from an old willow tree that's in the way. It got very cold and poured with rain, so I went back and got into bed to warm up. Jim was tired and had already had a couple of hours. What a pair we are.

Had blood taken by the nurse in the morning for a check on my cholesterol and other things (3 vials taken). Did my ironing this afternoon. Cleaned out the conservatory which badly needed it. Jim's been sorting out his office upstairs and it's much better for him now. His back is much improved thankfully.

Watched Holby City tonight. Not too exciting. I've made Internet friends with a lesbian from Australia who's partner of many years has just left her so she's all boo hooey!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More Rain, Sat Jan 12th, 2008

We had a funny old night and didn't go to bed until almost this morning, thus it was a late start to the day. Jim was feeling much better and brought me breakfast in bed, which was delightfully unexpected. Also a card saying 'thank you for looking after me'. Aaah.

Worked inside as it was so cold and wet out. Jim put the new knobs on the door and adjusted the ball catch. I spring cleaned the kitchen. A bit early but hey, it had to be done. I still have the floor to wash but apart from that, it's much better. Brought some more wood down in the wheelbarrow to the kitchen and put 2 loads in the barn to dry.

Watched Casualty and 'The One and Only' on tv, then pootled a bit on scrabulous. Jim's back inevitably hurt by the evening and he has slept most of it, having taken a strong painkiller. He made a lovely dinner first though. Roast pork (in the microwave), roast potatoes (also in the micro) and cauliflower with sauce.

So that's about it really. Short and sweet. I go to Suffolk on Friday and return Tuesday. Have lots of Jack cuddles. I've missed him so much.

It's absolutely tipping it down at the moment (12 midnight) and windy to boot! No change there then.

Freezing Weather, Trip to Limerick 11.1.08

Up to glorious sunshine but white over with frost. Jim up first to light Stanley. I was ready to go back down to the orchard when Jim reminded me we were off on a shopping trip to get more peat blocks for Stanley and some food for the cats and us too. So, he being unable to drive at the moment, I had to go too. It was quite a fun day after a sticky start and we ambled around the big new Tesco on the outskirts of Limerick. Lots of bargains to be had too, especially in the fruit and veg, so we gathered up plenty. Best bargain was asparagus and we bought enough to make soup!

Drove along in the rain to Woody's to buy some wood to finish off the surround to the new door. It was so expensive Jim decided to leave it and try and fashion the bits he needed from some wood he already has. We did buy 2 knobs for the door though. Very useful! Also stopped at our usual MacDonald's for a coffee and a muffin (low cal). Very warming.

A visit to the pet superstore yielded many reduced toys for the cats and 2 food bowls. Back home then, driving in the dark and rain was hard as I had my contact lenses in. Shopping unpacked and away. The cats loved their new toys and wore themselves out playing with them. The most unsuccessful one was some red feathers with 2 bells attached. Very soon we had red feathers all over the floor as it disintegrated. Sandy obviously thought he was plucking a chicken!

That's about it. An evening of keeping warm, food and computers. I hope tomorrow is fine so I can continue with my orchard clearing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What No Rain? Thursday Jan 10th, 2008

Eventually made it to bed at 5am, having tried a crossword puzzle to get to sleep. Dropped off around 6 I think as it was getting light. Jim slept on the settee again. Can't wait to get back to normal. He'd had a really bad evening and was in a lot of pain again.

However, he has been better today and even cut some willow. He is selling cuttings on ebay as we have to cut the stuff anyway, so why not make a bit? Coaster17 is his name on ebay if you'd like to grow some willow cuttings. As the weather was at last clear with a bit of sunshine now and then, I went down to the orchard to carry on clearing the raspberry canes. The previous owner had obviously planted a couple of rows of them and over the years they have gone wild and cover a huge area. We have never actually stood on the area where they are as it was too prickly and overgrown. The raspberries are rather special in that the are apricot coloured! They taste the same as red ones, very weird.

The raspberries reached over to the fence with the field next door, owned by the farmer, Martin. Down the edge of the fence were many overgrown trees with dead and dying branches. It was great to be able to get to the trees and trim off necessary branches and I actually managed to clear right down to the end of the row before it started to get dark and dropped amazingly cold in a few minutes. My feet and hands were frozen and Jim, right on cue, brought me a coffee, which I used to warm my hands, then gathered up my tools and headed back inside, chilled to the bone.

The evening was spent lolling on the settee in front of the tv until now. I was cold and tired, but really enjoyed my day outside and rest this evening. Jim is still on the mend but seems to have picked up a cold now, probably from the doctor's surgery! You can't win.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cholesteral, Huh! Jury Service? Weds, Jan 9th, 2008

Got up this morning and ready to go to the doctors clutching my letter about my cholesterol level of 7. It's a walk in system in the mornings and I waited 2 hours!! Ah well, it was warm and I read the breast cancer magazine cover to cover and was just into Good Housekeeping! It was the same doctor who had seen Jim so I think she was a bit confused to see me. She was quite reassuring and, given my lifestyle (apart from too much chocolate) she thought it might be hereditary. Also, when I had the blood test I wasn't asked to fast and I should do, so am in for a new blood sample to be taken next Tuesday to get proper analysed results, having fasted since 12 midnight the night before. Not even water! Mean or what? So we shall see. If it is high and doesn't go down, I can take a little pill a day to do the job. Sounds an excellent idea. Pass the chocolate please. Having said that, I have bought much fruit today and other thin making things as I want to lose weight before the Oz trip anyway.

I bought some Green Tea which was so disgusting it made me feel sick! Yuk. We did have an enjoyable dinner of jacket potatoes, smoked bbq salmon and salad. It was lovely. Unfortunately we did finish with a Xmas type pudding, never opened since Christmas. It's silly to throw it away so I had a small-ish portion. Can't starve all at once.

After the doctors I went to Aldi to get the usual supplies and some decent cat food. One item was sadly lacking in my endeavours, though, and that was money. Jim keeps most of it in his wallet and I only had a bit of small change. Neither Aldi nor Lidl take credit cards, so I prayed that Supersave did. Luckily, they saved the day. I did have a little till glitch in that one of my credit cards had expired, one I had no idea of the pin number but luckily the 3rd one worked. I was feeling quite stressed and had to have a coffee to recover!

It was freezing cold again and sleeted and rained on me, plus a biting wind. Horrid. I went to the library to find out info on women's groups, but it was closed. Typical. Tried the Family Resource Centre who are closed until either 14th or the 21st January, depending on which notice you read in the window. Irish or what?

I did pop into an art and craft shop which I hadn't noticed before and had a lovely chat with the lady in there. She had some woven baskets in the window and I asked if they were Peter Sheahan's. Indeed they were, the chap whose cottage we now live in. She was most interested in this as she used to live in Caher, quite near us. She also does framing which could prove useful in the future.

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I had a letter calling me up for jury service in Ennis, Ireland. I've only been here 5 minutes, yet I've been eligible in the UK for years but have never been called. Unfortunately it's when I am booked on a flight to go to the UK for a few days for a 60th birthday party and then a week afterwards we are off to Australia, so I've asked to be excused this time. I'd love to do it and hope they just push you down the list a bit then ask again.

When I eventually got home, Jim had brought down a barrow load of logs from by the top gate, but was still in a lot of pain. As the day progressed, he has regressed. He went upstairs to his little office but couldn't sit for any length of time and ended up laying on the floor then giving up and collapsing of the settee again. Oh woe.

Played a bit of scrabble on Facebook but didn't do too well. Crappy letters. BlackJack is on my knee purring adoringly but he does make it difficult to type, bashing my fingers with his head now and then. He is growing at last but still looks pretty small. Sandy, on the other hand, is huge!

Jim found a great website online today. A textile artist who also works with willow and re-cycled materials. A lovely gallery is on display and she has done some large works that hang from the ceiling like stalactites, which is something I've always wanted to do, but never had the space. Really worth a look.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

More Rain, Tuesday 8th January, 2008

Will it ever stop raining? The wood, delivered yesterday, is now very wet. I brought a couple of wheelbarrow loads down to the cottage yesterday, but I can't see me getting much inside today. The weather for the rest of the week looks pretty ghastly too.

Jim's back in bed and there was much moaning and groaning in the night, so I don't think things are going too well.

My daughter K has been for her hospital appointment with her dicky heart and the news isn't too great. Looks like an operation in the end and no tea or coffee or smoking or or or...... Poor girl. Makes my high cholesteral seem tame.

Giggling Patient, Wood a Plenty, 7th Jan 08

We didn't get up with the alarm but I woke at 8.45, made a cup of tea and rescued Stanley, then ran a bath for Jim to get his back going enough to drive him to the doctors. We set off eventually and it's open surgery this morning, so we just gave his name and sat and waited. If we weren't ill before we arrived, we certainly will be now. Everyone was coughing and spluttering all over the place, the waiting room far too hot, just right to spread those lovely germs. Why oh why do people go to the doctors with a cold? There's nothing they can do, just stay at home and it will get better. We waited about 45minutes, then in to see a female locum, who didn't look old enough to have left school, let alone qualify as a GP. She was, however, very thorough and duly reported that his back was all knotted up, muscles in spasm and the numbness in the leg due to the sciatic nerve.

She prescribed a very strong muscle relaxant to take during the day which worked very well. Didn't remove the pain all together but was a marked improvement on the over the counter ones. Best of all, she prescribed some diazepam for night time, 2 of them for 3 nights. Well, Jim decided to take them before going to bed. I didn't think this was a very good idea, but he knows best. I checked on him 10 minutes later and he was fast asleep on the settee. Then of course I had to get him into bed. He giggled like a helpless schoolgirl, which set me off as well! It was very funny, they certainly seem to work! I did manage to get him undressed and into bed. He then thought one of the cats was in the bed, but it was next door in the lounge! Only the pink elephants were missing! What a laugh. No wonder people get hooked on them. I left him reading the paper but I don't think that will last long. Will go and check on him again in a minute. What a responsibility!

Post arrived today from the UK and in it was a letter from my doctor saying my cholesterol is 7, which is of course, far too high. Aaaah!. No more chocolate for me. I had been a bit of an ostrich about it, really in my heart of hearts I knew it was probably high. It's always been a bit high, but only up to 5. So it's a new diet from tomorrow. I have put on weight too, so the low cholesterol diet will help me all round. I am low risk in so many ways, it doesn't seem fair that I can't eat a bit of chocolate! I don't smoke and never have, don't drink (hardly at all) and as far as I know there's no family history of heart problems or stroke. I'll have to go and see the doctor here if I'm being sensible and get another test with the 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol split, so I can really see what's what, then keep an eye on the improvement (that's positive thinking, isn't it?)

Our load of wood was paid for on the way back from the doctors at Gort. This one man lives alone with 2 large Alsatians and a big black pot bellied pig! His back yard is littered with trucks, cars, old tractors and huge piles of wood from the forestry. Good chap though and he delivered said wood without moaning about the access to our cottage, which isn't wonderful! Now Stanley should be kept going happily for a month I would think.

All in all a better day. Hopefully the muscle relaxants will work and Jim's back will get back to normal, or as normal as ever. We certainly won't be able to fly to Australia if it's not recovered.

Well, I've just checked and he's sitting in bed doing an advanced sudoku (which I always call Suzuki). There's a surprise.

I almost forgot, as the weather's been so awful for so long, it rained most of the day plus a howling wind.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Life Goes On Jan 5th 2008

Many birds on our table. Our Christmas Wreath. The berries should be pink but the covering of some of them has fallen off in the rain!

The bad back still rules our lives. Also the bad knee from falling on it (Jim's that is). I went to see the pharmacist today and got some extra strong painkillers which are working to a certain extent. At least they will control the pain until Monday, when I will take the patient to the doctors.
I am keeping the fire going, cat litter and ash emptying and have even cooked a pizza (badly) today! I also investigated a place on the way to Gort that sells firewood. Seems a good deal at 320 euros a lorryload and will save all the hassle of felling trees, chopping them and carting the stuff about. I will go and get some cash from Gort tomorrow and order a load.

I'm also enjoying the odd game of scrabulous on Facebook and reading the news of my contacts on there. I have made 3 friends through playing the game and we enjoy conversation while we play.

Today I received 2 belated Christmas presents from my daughter, both books. She has chosen well, one on the history of County Clare and one for the aged mobile traveller!! They both look excellent. Thanks K.

Our time keeping is even more upside down than usual with Jim not really sleeping and me sleeping at odd times too.

The birds are positively flocking to the table at the moment. I suppose it's because it's cold and the autumn food has about come to an end. I took some photos so will post some of them here, plus one or two other recent ones.

Sandra and Pete, our neighbours, cooked us a breakfast on Christmas morning. The one on the right is me. Jim with the trug full of vegetables for our Christmas Dinner. BlackJack and Sandy looking beautiful as usual.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sad Day, Bad Day, 3rd Jan 2008

My father died today in 1987, such a long time ago but I still miss him and my Mum, who died in 1980. All you people who still have your parents alive, make the most of them. Once they're gone, they don't come back. If you've put off that phone call or visit, you may well regret it one day.

Jim has had a bad back for a few days. Much worse today and he is a BAD patient and can't stand pain which really irritates me. I am a heartless bitch apparently. Not a good day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Out With the Old, 31 Jan 07 - 1st Jan 2008

Well, there goes another one and I'm now in my 60th year. How on earth did I get there?

We have felled another couple of trunks of sycamore in the orchard (on the 30th) and sawed most of it on the spot then Jim barrowed it up to the barn. The cats spent most of the day with us in the orchard, which was great fun, then they collapsed and slept all evening.

Our neighbours appeared on the same day, full of cold and feeling sorry for themselves! They gave me a lantern to hold night lights to keep away the mozzies! Wishful thinking, but thoughtful all the same. Also some smelly roses which go in the bath to make it smell good. We gave them coffee and chocolate biscuits.


Jim forgot it was New Years Eve until I pointed it out half way through yesterday! He spent the day putting a door in the hole between the lobby and our kitchen/diner as the draught through there is phenomenal. Finished it today as it was a bit awkward and it looks super. I pottered and outside moved piles of rubbish to the bonfire and moved all the wood into the barn to dry and saw. I did a fair bit of hand sawing of the smaller bits and we'll do a chain sawing session on the larger ones.

We mentioned yesterday that we seem to spend a fair amount of time 'just living', ie, felling and cutting up wood for Stanley to keep warm and improving the cottage to retain the warmth. I suppose that's what people had to do years ago.

We didn't do a lot in the evening. Decided we couldn't be bothered to go to a pub. We don't really know anyone much so we stayed in! Had a lovely 'bits and bobs' dinner, starting with fried Camembert cheese with cranberry sauce, then 'eat ups' of cocktail sausages, pate, various cheeses, a lovely salad followed by too many chocolates! We somehow managed to stay up until about 5am and didn't settle down until about 6am. I then couldn't sleep and finally drifted off about 8ish I would think! So it was a morning in bed, not a good start to the new year. Must do better.

This afternoon we had a brunch fry up. Lovely, left over sausages, egg, bacon, beans and toast with real coffee. A rare treat. Jim carried on with his door fitting and I built a bonfire in the orchard, ready to light at dusk. I had tried to light one a couple of days ago to no avail, so I started from scratch. It did eventually get going and I stayed out burning piles of wood bits and blackcurrant bushes, pruned by Jim, until Holby came on at 8! I was going to go out again but didn't make it! So that's a quick update. Received messages from all 3 children of mine wishing us Happy New Year. Ben's started an hour before ours as he's in Spain! His bar was throbbing, which is great.