Thursday, 10 December 2009

Time flies... sometimes

This was Pebble at approximately ten weeks... now he is over two years old and tall, long and weighs about 5 and a half kg. He gets along okay with Banjo who is well over 11 years old and they tolerate each other; sometimes they chase each other and Banjo will try and wash Pebble... for all of 30 seconds, when he dashes off or tries to rough and tumble with her. This results in some hissing from Banjo. They don't sleep together, but will lie alongside each other in front of the log fire and only when I am with them.

I don't know how Charlie is getting on in my daughter's household... I have been busy seeing GPs about some possible Gall Stone trouble! Not funny and very painful. Now I have to go for a scan. I'm so glad I have completed my Will!

When I looked back at the pictures of my two cats I realised just how quickly the last two years have gone by. It's now four years and three months since he died... sometimes it seems like yesterday - sometimes it seems a lifetime away. Time either stands still when you want it to move, or it flies when you forget to count the days.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Charlie

Well, this is the latest picture of my daughter's new addition to the family... Charlie! About one year old, overfed, never been allowed to play and still trying to 'fit in' with a household of two adults, two boys and an existing male cat who every now and then, attacks him... it's a cat territorial thing!

He is, however, so very affectionate and loves to climb on my lap, and snuggle in to the crook of my arm, turn over and lie with his legs in the air, purring while I stroke him.

However, Charlie has a little habit that's causing my daughter to be annoyed... namely he pees in the hall instead of going outside. Now my daughter wanted to rub his nose in the pee, thinking this would deter him. I explained that you only usually do that to puppies, certainly not cats! It's a sign that he is completely 'lost' in a house with an existing male cat and is trying hard to establish himself... with pee.

It's a shame my feet are in the background! Along with a 'Burford Garden Centre' shopping bag!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Just like old times

Before my lovely man became ill, part of my consultancy job with a Constabulary was to travel to different locations, interview, observe, gather information, evaluate then write a report and present the findings for different projects... a job I loved doing, because I met lots of interesting people and learnt a lot. So, now I find myself travelling to various villages where they've set up their own community shop; I interview, observe, gather information, evaluate, collate and report, ready to set up our own village shop... I love it! At last, I'm doing something useful and meeting lots of people in the process!

As a footnote to the sad ending of little Bubu (two posts earlier), my daughter has taken in another unwanted young cat called 'Charlie'. His owner didn't want him any more and deposited him at the Veterinary clinic where daughter Number four works. Charlie is short and round and very affectionate and unlike Bubu, is far from emaciated, but, he now has a new home and a family that loves him.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Reflections

I really love Autumn and Spring... mostly Spring, because it heralds the start of something new, fresh, and light and green. Autumn will always remind me of the death of my lovely man... the golden light on the green lawn and the dahlias bobbing in the gentle breeze. It was his favourite time of the year, and the house he'd built years before had been called 'September Cottage'. How I long now for a new house of my own... a new beginning... apart and separate from all the trauma and grief of the past four years!

To that end, I have now decorated all the interior of the house... the house that conforms to all the disability regulations... I just have to repaint the outside... the postman told me the other day that 'the front door needs a coat of paint'... thank you Postie, but don't you have other pressing job-related issues to worry about?

I am on a Steering Group to try and establish a new village community shop and Post Office as the old one is closing down... the owner wants to retire somewhere 'oop north'. I am trying to help, but one half of me is already moving mind, body and soul, as well as house and home to another location... one that is away from neighbours who terrorise cats, away from umpteen covenants on the house that restrict me from just about everything, away from teenage boys who destroy my security lamps, pear tree and stream with their thoughtless antics.

I can't seem to get a job, no matter how hard I try and despite leaving out my date of birth. I have given up trying to find a 'nice, good' man still with his own teeth and hair... who needs em? I have now learnt to live without male company, male protection or attention and have resigned myself to the status quo.

Once Christmas is over with and the outside of the house is painted, I shall seek a valuation and start looking in earnest for another property that I can call my own... one without memories and one where I can feel safe, alone and can look after my cats, paint, decorate and garden landscape to my heart's content. I just need a bit of extra money....!

Upon reflection, what does any of it matter? I exist fairly well. It could be a whole lot worse!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

KBO


I'm now wearing my third temporary tooth veneer... long story...; have just had stitches out on a back molar that is being prepared for something 'big'; about to go back to the hairdresser - highlights were non-existent but cost me a lot; a skirt I'd ordered doesn't seem to appear from M&S...

While annoying, none of this is life-threatening, just a sad indictment of today's consumer society and lack of something... be it organisation skills, shop training, lack of listening skills?? Whatever the cause, I now come to expect these things whenever I venture out to buy something.

So, what joy to have my son-in-law come over immediately to fix my new surround-sound system that was buggered up somehow during last week's half term break!

Having watched the drama 'Into the Storm' recreating Churchill's time in office during WWII, I have decided to adopt one of his mantras: Keep Buggering On... KBO! So apt in this current climate. And 'Bugger' is a word I've always loved using... so quintessentially British!

KBO - everyone!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Three weeks

To drive thirty miles to look after little BuBu is no hardship; nor is it any trouble to wash her, help her out into the garden where she obligingly 'goes'. Nor is it any hassle to stroke her under her emaciated chin, eliciting little purrs of delight while she lies on the sofa, struggling with the debilitating effects of malnutrition, neglect and abandonment. Each day she gains just a little more flesh on her fragile small bones and her spine no longer sticks out like a ridge of distant mountains.

Three weeks of warmth, food, and much love couldn't stop her body's slow disintegration into diabetes, complete blindness and deafness and a confused state of mind. On Tuesday morning, my daughter brought BuBu into bed with her where she lay across my daughter's neck and could feel her pulse and hence began to purr. BuBu could no longer keep down any food and could'nt seem to go to the loo any more. The Vet gave her verdict and hence her end. Little BuBu went into an enforced sleep... she was only about 18 months' old. In three short weeks, she had captured all our hearts.

I would really like to meet her former owner who left her flat and her kitten behind!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Classic

I love classic cars and so, enjoyed a trip around the rally at Blenheim Park a little while ago. I browsed, ummed and aarghed and took lots of pics. I even found a Vauxhall Cresta... just like my Dad's!

The owners all sat with picnic hampers, flasks, small dogs, wives and most had an abundance of hair around their faces, (not the wives).

A bygone age with gorgeous cars and motor bikes. When it came to the bikers parading inside the arena, only a few turned up... most had gone for a 'walkabout' within the Palace grounds, much to the annoyance of the commentator.

I sat on a bench and ate my picnic, enjoying watching the world go by; kids having tantrums, dads getting frustrated with the kids; wives bored. Classic!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Real issues

Despite recent disputes and arguments between two of my daughters, which has really saddened me; a little malnourished mite, abandoned by her owner has come into our lives. Her new name is Bubu; found staggering and hardly able to keep upright, outside my daughter's house, just a fragile bag of bones, almost completely blind and deaf, with back legs collapsing beneath her as she made one more attempt to get some food from anywhere she could.

One week later she is now rehoused with another daughter, is still partially blind and still deaf, is eating little and often the special food and vitamins my daughter and her husband are giving her. She can now walk a little better and yesterday, for the first time, her tail went in the air and she managed to purr in gratitude. She lives on the sofa and can find her way to the kitchen, bumping into a few items on the way.

I hope my daughters can see the bigger picture here... despite their arguments, there are creatures who are in dire circumstances that put other things into their rightful perspective.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Interviews and value systems

In just ten days' time, it will be exactly four years since my lovely man departed this earthly existence for whatever place is next... (or not)! I keep wondering whether there are other non-worldly places our souls go to, or, when we die do we just cease to exist permanently?

I have read several articles over the years concerning young children's memories of past lives. Perhaps Buddhism is nearer to the truth of our existence than other religions? Maybe not.

Back to my own existence... today I went for an interview for the job of being a pottery painter... nothing creative about it, just daubing paint onto cut-out stencils in a very precise and prescribed way, sitting at a workstation for six hours each day, five days a week for near enough the minimum wage. Upon completion, I shook hands with the owner as he said a letter will go out to all candidates next week, short-listing to a few who will then be invited back to spend a day working at a workstation stencilling all day... whoopee... just for the experience and without pay. The successful candidate will then come back for a three month trial period. My gut instinct screams out that NO... I don't think this is for me!

I went home, aggressively dead-headed the roses and then spent the afternoon searching for teaching theories in preparation for another interview this Friday. I have to give a twenty minute, innovative micro-teach to a small group, pretending they are prospective teachers on a basic course. Then follows a question and answer session and interview. About an hour in total. The job?... a sessional tutor in teacher training.

Part of me says I should do this and get myself out of the house; bills need paying; and a mortgage will need paying off soon. I am also made aware (by one or two well-meaning folk) that I am not of retiring age; that I should be meeting people; and that I need a purpose. Yeah, yeah, yeah. However, in the past I embarked on unsuitable jobs that made me physically ill. I always vowed never to take a job again that went against my needs, wants and value system, nor just for the sake of it. I would rather go without food, give up the Gym and sell my car than be so unhappy in a job. I have done many jobs in the past (some not very nice) that paid for food, education and important things for my children. I no longer have dependants, which governs everything we do. There is only me and two cats... they can catch their own food if necessary. Now I answer only to myself.

So when Friday comes along, I shall again, listen to my gut instinct once I've delivered my micro teach and been questioned etc. Sometimes I wonder if I am now too affected by life's cruel events and therefore not willing to conform. I have developed a rebellious streak and don't like being told what to do. And this is why I would love my own business. As an aside; after reading a book about Cosmic Ordering, I wrote down my wish list and wished with all my heart... for days! It worked for Noel Edmunds, but doesn't seem to work for me! Ah well, back to Honey and Mumford's Learning Style Inventory!!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Confused again

As I took off my jacket and handed it to the small, delicate, very blonde and very young assistant, she said, "That's it sweetie..." as she helped me on with my black voluminous gown in preparation for a cut and blow-dry! And with her delicate, butterfly touch on my elbow, she guided me to the chair. I suppose that to her, I was ancient and needed treating delicately. She handed me a couple of 'OK' and 'Hello' magazines, and as soon as she'd gone off to aide another ancient over-40 woman, I got up and exchanged them for 'Country Living' and 'Prima'... proof that I was indeed ancient!

Then conversely, yesterday while walking around the Cotswold Wildlife Park with my two young grandsons, and asking for two ice-cream cones, I was addressed as 'Mum' by the young man serving. I am now suffering from a sort of identity crisis... what am I? Ancient grandmother or mother of two young boys? What's age got to do with anything? And, why are some people ill at ease with the different ages? Or, do they just not know that everyone, regardless of age, etc., etc., should be treated with equal respect? I don't much like being called 'Sweetie, darlin', love, m'duck or anything else by people I don't know. However, some might say that I have indeed reached the 'Grumpy Old Woman' stage! All this is proof I need a life!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Can't see the wood for the trees...

I am tasked with the job of finding a suitable venue for my daughter's wedding next year! I am amazed at the inflexibility of some venues in that they will not, under any circumstances, provide a buffet-style wedding breakfast!! For Goodness sake... who is paying for this!!

I am google-eyed and websited out! Why can't they realise that the Bride's wishes are basically what provides their income? Today we visited three venues... the first - we were met by a lovely and very young lady who anticipated our every question and was absolutely great! Problem... no accommodation! Second vist to a small country hotel... the girl was just out of puberty and gave us a spiel but with no effort at encompassing the Bride's wishes... the third was a larger hotel and of a well-known brand who didn't mind doing whatever the bride wished. However, the rooms may not be entirely to my daughter's liking... and was the venue for a friends wedding. Difficult... and it brought back many memories for me because my lovely man and I stayed at the same hotel for her friends wedding back in 2004.

Venues vary in what they offer and some incur hidden charges for just the basics... like a cup of tea!

I am also feeling vulnerable because yet again, I will probably attend, as the bride's mother... alone and without a partner while my previous [Ex] will love that fact! My daughter said jokingly... maybe you will have a 27 year old muscled, tanned partner by then... we laughed, but I knew the reality was that I would still be alone.

Perhaps I could hire someone??

Meanwhile I continue on my websearch of suitable venues in Oxfordshire and maybe into Gloucestershire for somewhere where my lovely eldest daughter and her partner can be married in the manner to which they would like.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Kept in the dark and fed on s***

Yep... for an excellent mushroom, keep it in the dark and feed it on excrement! That's how I feel my High Street dentist has treated me over the botched job of fitting a temporary veneer.

Why do I have to wait three weeks to have a new veneer fitted? Why do I have to go to Thame to let the technicians match up the shade to my existing teeth? Why did the temporary veneer turn black, thereby allowing me to frighten the horses and small children? Why did the subsequent visit to see another dentist (mine was away), result in her telling me that she thought the veneer was to blame, or I'd perhaps been using a certain brand of mouthwash, known for darkening teeth? Then, seeing my returning dentist, it seems my gum bled during the fitting of the temporary veneer, (due, by his own admission, to his clumsy extraction of the remains of the old one), and this caused the blackening under the veneer. So, off with the old, and on with a new one after being scraped and drilled and washed and dried. I'm now at home, with sore gum but a whiter tooth. My dentist doesn't do colour matches, nor tooth whitening, nor anything else out of the ordinary... he prefers to send his patients miles away for others to do the work. Could this be because he's not so hot in areas other than check-ups and extractions? His veneer work isn't so hot! When this treatment has finally finished I shall be seeking another Dentist.

At least he owned up to doing a bad job, unlike his young, straight out of the training school box, colleague who waffled her way through, did some poking around my blackened tooth saying she'd improved it, but when I asked for a mirror it was obvious she'd made the thing worse!

I feel better now, thank you blog friends for letting me vent steam. This is a mushroom unwilling to be kept in the dark and fed on shit!

Monday, 3 August 2009

More than one pebble on the beach

I'm still waiting to have my veneer replaced... hopefully soon so that I can smile with confidence once more... or at least give the impression I'm confident and 'ok'!

While waiting for whatever fate has in store, I have my granddaughter staying with me, and so, off to the Cinema to see the latest Harry Potter film ... which confused me, but delighted her; off to the local historical Manor Farm where she learnt how to make lace, split logs (the old-fashioned way) and make and dress dolly pegs. And, tomorrow we go to a Pottery shop where she will decorate a pot and have it 'fired' in a kiln. It's good to have someone around the house who is good company and who is fond of uttering things like, "Nana, I've put up the Aerosol"... she meant the Parasol! Yep, we had one day of reasonable sunshine.

While off out, down the lane in my car, I saw 'little amorous man' from the Gym. He was painting the outside of a house down the lane... my lane! Why does he keep turning up like a bad penny? He smiled and waved enthusiastically as I drove past. I smiled without showing my teeth! Then I thought, 'should've shown my chipped tooth; it may have put him off me for life...' which is, after all, what I want! Too late, he now knows I live somewhere along the lane. The time is coming soon when I shall have to tell him politely to bugger off.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

On the road to ...?

I never knew just how long the road is to happiness! I'd be happy to know that my road led somewhere, or at least, hoped it would be as entertaining as the roads that Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour took, all those years ago. Me? Haven't a bloody clue!

Today I went off in my car to Hughenden Manor just north of High Wycombe... the house of former Prime Minister, Benjamin D'israeli. I did the House tour... all one hour and a half of it... and learnt new things about this special man, all of which surprised me. He was a poor man's hero who had to endure endless taunts about his judaisism. Nevertheless, he was adored by Queen Victoria who visited his home two days after his funeral and insisted that a bouquet of china primroses was entombed with him.

I had thought to venture out to Oxford tonight... to buy a ticket to hear the 19 piece band, Blakes Heaven, at Oxford Castle. I phoned my daughter to see if she wanted to go, but she had had a hectic day at work and declined. Instead, I sat and watched a DVD... as usual, thinking that my life had come to a juddering halt. How I miss going out with someone close. I miss evening walks, talks and outings to Pubs; I miss talking to someone, linking my arm with someone and sharing a joke with someone. I think my life is on hold, paused, waiting for something... better to think that than be a complete pessimist and think that my life is over.

My horoscope says I am on the brink of a new life... all I can say is that it's a bloody big, long and wide brink!

Perhaps tomorrow will bring something new...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Up the garden path

More money needed! My front tooth veneer happened to split... my fault... I was trying to break cheap selotape with my teeth while in a hurry to wrap up my grandson's birthday present. Later when I discovered the damaged veneer, I looked everywhere for the piece of veneer in the hope it could be stuck back on... but I think it went with the present to the grandson and is now at the refuse tip stuck to the wrapping.

The dentist gave me a quote for a new veneer... £379!! Or, I could opt for a crown, he said. Nope, can't do that... the tooth isn't strong enough having undergone an Apesectomy years' ago... No, I don't know what an Apesectomy is either, just that it was painful and bears no relation to looking like an Ape, hmmm, well I don't think so...

Then there's the bill for the recent Heating problem and the bill for the recent car MOT... then there's the increased Electricity bill... how?? When I use tea-lights, hardly use the cooker or hob, keep the TV switched off and everything else switched off when not in use!!

I've developed a good coping mechanism for pushing all these things away... I go for a swim and then go out in my garden. I love brushing against the lavender to get to my front door. The Postman doesn't like it very much... was that a Machete I saw him with yesterday?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Day out for an EGG

It seems we group of ex-green gymmers now have the name 'EGGS'... a good bunch... good eggs... adventurous and game for anything!

Yesterday, we went to Broughton Castle in north Oxfordshire. It being one of the few ancestral homes that still remains in the hands of the original family... Sele and Sayte. It had a really good, still lived-in feel about it, having escaped the trappings of that wonderful organisation; The National Trust.

Pictures of Oliver Cromwell adorned the walls, as did pictures of Queen Ann and others. Although the family sided with Cromwell, they quickly accepted the return of Charles II (as one would in difficult times). Original plated armour, leather buckets, swords, pikes and artefacts adorn the Castle and as I gazed out of this window before taking the picture, I could imagine the Cromwellian soldiers riding down the green sloping pasture land towards the Castle. I really wish, (along with thousands of others) that I could be an invisible time traveller. Ah... if only I could afford to enrol on an archaeology course! I just love digging in the dirt!

One of our team didn't come with us... she had been in contact with someone with Swine Flu and was beginning to develop symptoms...

I think I really must get my Will sorted!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Death from Application forms

Yesterday, I spent all the daylight hours trying to complete an online application form for a college lecturer's post at a college many, many miles away! Today, I ask why?

I lost the will to live several times throughout the day. No I can't remember the exact start and end dates of jobs ten years' ago. No, I don't have the post code of Southampton University; No, I didn't work between Dec 04 and now because it's no-one else's bloody business!

I came out of the web page, and was then sent a special code by email for me to resume the application form later! Neck and back aching from a badly positioned screen and chair, I sipped my extra strong coffee and asked myself out loud, "Do I really want to go back to being a Lecturer?" In my heart I heard a resounding 'No'. "Do I want to earn some money?" 'Yes'! So, what can I do to earn some money??

I asked two of my daughters to tell me honestly what my qualities and skills were - in their opinion - and told them not to hold back... even the negative thoughts would be good for me! Their responses surprised me; I was in tears... real, emotive tears. It was a defining moment... I had no idea they viewed me in the way they did!

There were no negatives... I seem to have qualities and skills I hadn't realised. Has it helped me decide what I want to do? No. I'm even more confused now.

I think this must be my second mid-life crises... and what I really must get my head around is the fact that it's okay to have these times, and that it's okay not to work, and it's okay to just potter around and do whatever my bank balance allows me to do.

Sod the application form... I'd rather take photos of my Hollyhocks!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Help for Heroes... indeed, more help needed!

It was a damp but humid Saturday evening when a few of us rallied round and set up food and refreshments in the Woodstock Town Hall ready for the group of 20 or so Royal Engineers who were cycling on a seven-seater contraption in order to raise money for a rehabilitation unit for their injured comrades.

No Mayor..., and no deputy Mayor... where were they? A few Town Councillors and several 'old' soldiers and their wives. I think there could have been a lot more support for such self-sacrificing men...

My daughter, granddaughter and myself served wine to all who required it. Perhaps due to the damp weather, or otherwise, there was not the huge welcome the men of the Royal Engineers deserved. Woodstock, a wealthy Cotswold town not far from Oxford, remained sleepily silent except for the excellent work of a few councillors and helpers who thoughtfully made an effort!

I sat in the Mayor's chair within the ancient Town Hall and was asked by someone (not a councillor) if I'd be interested in running for Mayor next year... No, I don't live in Woodstock... I was only helping out a friend for the evening! Methinks Woodstock needs to have a talk to some of its current Councillors... and who knows... maybe a new Mayor would bring fresh thoughts?!

What would I know!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Some you win, some you lose.

There's nothing like suddenly coming to the rescue of a wild creature to take your mind off your lonely little existence!

I awoke two mornings ago thinking that the birds were unusually loud this morning! As I reached the kitchen, rubbing my eyes and reaching for the kettle, there it was again, the loud chirp, chirp, chirp of a bird very close by! Yep, one of the cats had brought in a baby bird that was yelling its head off from behind my TV. I threw a tea-towel over it as it hopped over to the sofa and took it outside so that it's mum could do her bit and feed it. For three long hours I watched from behind the curtains, with the window ajar, listening to the chirp, chirp, chirp; not one bird replied or went near the little thing. He had almost all his feathers, except for the tail, so could hop, skip and flutter, but not fly properly. I got dressed and went outside, again with the tea-towel, brought him in, put him in a box with the tea-towel that he now thought of as his, and then dug up some worms and fed him. I spent nearly all day digging over my dry soil, trying to find worms and small slugs. By evening I was knackered, so at 8.30 pm drew the curtains in his room, said 'night, night' and was in bed by nine. I awoke at 5.30 am, dressed and rushed out to get some more worms, remembering that 'the early bird gets the worm'. As I rushed in with them in a pot, I thought that I'd not heard his chirping and thought perhaps he'd died. Sure enough, he was lying on his back with stiff little legs in the air! I'd failed!

Then this morning I awoke to find my elderly cat Banjo holding vigil next to the TV stand. Oh not again! There was a tiny mouse huddled in the corner. Mice I can deal with! I fetched the humane mouse trap, put in some low-fat Edam cheese, a few broken crackers (low fat and gluten free), and a few chopped nuts. Removing the cat from the room I went to have breakfast. Sure enough, within just minutes the mouse was in the trap munching away. At last, success! I released the little creature down the lane and under a hedge... with the cheese etc. It felt good to have saved a creature. I just hope that I wasn't responsible for the demise of the baby bird... perhaps I overfed it? Perhaps they were the wrong sort of worms? Or, perhaps it had injuries that I didn't know about?

Some you win... and some you lose. I did my best, but still feel that I've failed.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Stir Crazy

I've got through the first three years which have been at times, bloody and soul-destroying, leaving me drained and exhausted after many hours of crying. I turned a corner a few months ago... one of many corners, there being more than four sides to grief. I began to live again, breathe again and look at my little surrounding world with renewed eyes and an awakening mind, packing away the actress in me that has fooled so many for so long.

Then, along came two virus's and various secondary infections, which are still present and leaving me tired. Whether it's the illnesses, or time of year, or the fact that as an eternal optimist, it's time for another reality check to put me back in my place and make me realise that my little life is not actually going anywhere!

I've tried Jive classes, art classes, volunteering and a Gym. I've been chatted up by various little men, some, probably all, married. Perhaps I'm trying too hard and should just accept that this is how it is now, and it won't get much better! I've got a home, a car and two cats. I have a few friends and lovely daughters... what else is there? It's just that I still feel that something is missing! Maybe I shall always feel that something is missing! I should just stop still and stop wanting change!

Bereavement experts would've probably said this is yet another stage... And, I ask, just how many more sodding stages can there be??

The latest watercolour effort was sat on by Banjo my cat while I'd left it out to dry. I think she has improved it!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Yobs and Low Life galore!

Do I attract these amoebic forms of life towards me? I'm talking about being shouted abuse at by some passing cyclists... two youths carrying gardening tools (makes a change from knives), who just launched into a tirade of language at me, for no reason. Luckily I was in my car, and for a moment, almost veered over as they cycled toward me, which would certainly not have killed them... but they would have ended up in the muddy stream.

I asked at the Post Office if two boys, with bikes and gardening tools had called in... and yes, they had, and yes, everyone knew their names, and their parents who all live unhappily in this little village.

An elderly man said his allotment had been vandalised by the same two boys, losing him weeks, months of hard graft and produce.

Another elderly woman said they had approached her as she was walking to the shop and shouted abuse in her face, calling all sorts of derogatory names... you can imagine! I asked if anyone had reported them... and all shook their heads... "Naw, not worth it... nothing will get done!" And I thought, what a sad indictment of the state of our society and it's faith in our law enforcement.

So much for the village getting so upset about the Travellers' camp a mile away... I think the villagers ought to sort out their own problems!

Now where did I put my father's air gun???

PS. Hogday... can I borrow your mate - he with the balaclava and big muscles? No, must not go down the vigilante route... who knows where it would end??

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Wisley Magic

A great day at Wisley... but what is the magnificent growth in the picture I hear you ask... I had to look twice and for a moment it reminded me of something that I couldn't quite put my finger on!! Yes, a Banana! It was very hot and humid in the newly built glass house and I had to take off my coat and take a few deep breaths of the humid air in the hope that my chest would improve!

Five ladies came away laden with goodies from the plant shop... it's an age thing... like a drug addiction!

Next week it's off to another place... deep in the Cotswolds, with Tea and Cakes and yes, more much needed middle-aged supplies of drugs, er plants, to buy. It's a poor substitute for an active sex life... but still brings a smile to my face!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Not more poppies!?

It's good to get my brushes out again... and I'm really pleased with this latest Poppy; taken from my garden this afternoon, plonked in a vase and it seemed to go right from the moment I started painting. Some days are like that... everything seems to slot into place like a jigsaw.

I've been ill for weeks and having completed a course of Antibiotics (at last), I'm beginning to regain my energy and sense of humour. So, we (the ex-Green Gymmers) are off to RHS Wisley tomorrow for the day. The forecast is lots of rain and heavy cloud, so I've water-proofed my not-so-waterproof jacket and will just grin and bear the weather.

I have to do something to cheer myself up now that Gordon isn't going, and the latest winner of Apprentice was not my favourite, and that Saralan is to be the new Business or Enterprise Tzar for Labour!!! Perhaps there should be a 'Big Brother' series just for Parliamentary Ministers, or in Saralan's case, 'I'm a Celebrity... get me in there'! It's another way for the poor darlings to get extra cash on the side!

As for Sarkosy's glaring rudeness in not inviting the Queen to the D-Day celebrations, and Brown's incompetence and evident self-promoting mentality... are big Egos on the increase? Or am I turning into a Grumpy Old Woman?

Back to the Easel and Brian Adams...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Where has my stamina gone?

I used to bake two days a week, do the daily mountain of washing, cleaning, shopping, ironing, playing and feeding, then help with the homework before finally washing up the evening meal dishes and getting all four daughters washed and into bed. For many years it seemed that I was either pregnant, breastfeeding or pushing prams and pushchairs up and down the steep hills of Plymouth. I weighed just under 9 stone, was never fat, always sunkissed from being in the garden, by the beach or in parks with the girls. I ate well, slept well and the days whizzed by.

Now, having seen lots of old photos, I wonder where my stamina has gone as I recover from another half-term of child minding. I am exhausted and have caught yet another virus and will be seeing the Doc in an hour. I need an injection of stamina... any suggestions?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Paint the Hall, or paint poppies?


It was no contest really! The Hall, Landing and Stairs are the last of the indoor DIY projects, but, despite the rain storms, I just couldn't find the energy to get out the Crown 'Heaven' Matt Emulsion... so took photos of wet poppies and painted them instead. I need to practice, practice and practice, having had a break of many weeks since painting. It's good to get back in the saddle, so to speak! Come to think of it, there are other 'saddles' I'd like to get back into, given the chance! For instance; going out to work and meeting people; getting dressed up in high heels; going to the cinema with someone; booking a holiday; have a conversation with someone who doesn't meow back... just a few of the saddles I think about now and then.

The Hall will have to wait until I'm in the mood... or, perhaps I could paint poppies on the walls?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Lost in a bluebell wood

Oh to be lost in a bluebell wood and away from the tawdry revelations of Parliamentary Ministers and their fraudulent activities. I read today that one minister is annoyed that the real work of parliamentarians is on hold because of these revelations! Ughh... is it me? Or does anyone else think that Fraud is serious enough to warrant a hold on proceedings? As Boris has commented this week: 'I think this is a case for Plod to be called in.' Too true!

Then there are the 'whistle-blowers' themselves who upon revealing the expenses sham to the papers, wanted upwards of £300,000 for the information! Everyone's at it!

Today we read that the Queen is not amused and wants Brown to 'sort it'. I think Ma'am, that you've asked the wrong man. This is clearly a case for Doctor Who or Captain Jack... or Joanna Lumley.

Bring on an election - that's what I say!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Travelling by car

It's bloody hard... driving long hours on busy roads... namely the M1 at peak times. However, the journey wasn't too bad and a couple of stops on the way to wee and have a caffeine intake, all helped.

But, on arrival, having phoned from Nottingham services to say that I'd be just an hour and a bit, my friend was unexpectedly out upon my arrival. I found my mobile phone and sent a text saying 'I'm at your front door, I need a pee!' She had fallen asleep in the park nearby! I know she works hard and long at her very demanding job, and she is a very good friend, as too her husband who was also a good friend to my lovely man.

The following day we had a great time at the Harrogate Flower Show. I bought some fancy toadstools made out of copper; a frog and a snail, along with a rose. More was spent than I wanted, but then again, it was a trip with good friends and a wonderful day out. While wandering through one of the large marquees, I saw a collection of paintings; the artist sat at her desk, explaining to someone that she uses a mixture of gouache and watercolour. The effect was stunning! Mainly large poppy heads in different studies and colours... I felt inspired to try it out myself when I return home.

The journey back was okay, no real traffic problems and a stop at the Leicester Forest Services meant that I could make the whole journey without any major mishap. My cats really missed me and the garden seemed to have grown in just two days!

I really wish my friends lived nearer. A hundred and ninety miles away is too far! They are really good friends and I love them to bits! When life was really difficult for my lovely man and I, they were there for us. When so-called family members were giving us hassle and grief, our friends were there for us. Through all the crap from so-called family and from the work environment, our good friends were there for us. Now, after his untimely, sudden and premature death, if only we lived nearer to each other... we could meet more often and have more good days out. Life can be so complicated sometimes! In fact, life is too bloody short!! And even though I've survived three and a half years without him, I still don't know why I am on this planet. Life is too short to be fannying around. We only have one life! So why am I here? Perhaps I'm saying, what can I do to make a contribution to the World...

Meanwhile, I think I've caught a cold!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Off on a Trip

Off oop north for a short visit to friends, then back to either finish decorating the Hall, Landing and Stairs (no mean job); or forget that and start watercolour painting again; or cut back the overhanging bramble (supposed to be Beech) hedge that belongs to my neighbours; or concentrate on researching for a job interview that's coming up in a couple of weeks.

I keep asking myself how many hours a week could I work without compromising my new-found optimism and feel-good mood? I really need the money, but have decided not to work full time now and will hold out for part-time work. Most of my decisions until now have revolved around what to have for dinner; shall I wash the car; shall I go for a swim tonight; or does that Apple sapling need moving... I may be past giving anything to society... I may not be up to it... or, I've forgotten how to make proper decisions. Heaven help any students I may teach!

It's one of those 'Fate' times again!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A cracking day Gromit!

It's as if a dark cloud has moved away... I have felt the Spring air within my veins, filling me with optimism. Be careful girl, being forever an Optimist usually means being continually disappointed! But... something is happening to move me forward. It must be coming from within and heralds the start of yet another phase, or service station along the highway of recovering grief. I went for a long swim last night; the first time in two weeks after seeing and looking after various family over Easter. Whether it's because I look happier, walk straighter, smile more or just because I'm becoming more scatty - I received a few smiles and hello's from people I hardly know. One big man turned around and gave me a smile, as I turned around to have a second look! It's funny how Spring affects us all!

Today I went into Oxford to visit an Art Exhibition of local artists, (my ex-art tutor being one of the (pardon the phrase), exhibitionists. Most exhibits were not to my taste, but all were on sale for around £350 a piece. Not bad. However, all exhibitors belong to the prestigious Oxford Art Society, and to become a member is no easy task.

I leisurely browsed around the shops in a happy, detached frame of mind, as only a single person can do, not having to worry about the evening meal, school shoes or making the beds. I then strolled through alleyways looking for a place to eat lunch... (a special treat to myself to mark the change in my persona and mental state). All looked tacky, or full or just not with a menu for my mood. I ended up at 'Browns' in St Giles; a place my dearly departed had first taken me to lunch thirteen years' ago. I had a great table at the back and a very attentive waiter called John who fetched me a newspaper, water, wine and tempted me to try the day's special - Sea bream. It was all so good and delicious. I left, not feeling sad at being there on my own without my lovely man, but at peace.

This evening I sat on the garden swing with my cat as the sun went down. If all my days from now on are this good, then I shall be a lucky lady.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Easter magic

The grounds at Blenheim Palace are exceptional, and this year has received an RHS award. It's good to know that the magical designs of Lancelot (Capability) Brown have been preserved and enhanced after all these years by the various Dukes of Marlborough. Our favourite spot was a bench in the Secret Garden, watching the babbling brook speed by as we ate our picnic. We'd already been inside the Palace twice; done the guided Tour, then the Churchill exhibition, and then the 'Untold Story'. All good stuff! A second visit on Easter Weekend meant we could walk around the whole Park and Pleasure gardens. I was beginning to think I was getting really old by enjoying country houses and parks, but my twelve-year old granddaughter loved it too!

What's really good this year is the fact that Spring seems to be a 'proper' Spring - sunshine and showers! I'm more like my 'old' self this year... not so much deep mournful thinking. I'm carrying my grief better... more like an unobtrusive back-pack than a big heavy suitcase. I seem to be smiling more, listening more and finding amusement in silly things! Then again, it could be premature dementia creeping in.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

What the hell!

I've decided to stick with 'wet on wet' - it gives a much better finish... surreal, ethereal, and just magical! I no longer give a damn about what art tutors say... my style is my style... so there!

Having spent the last three weeks in agony with yet another slipped disc... the same disc that keeps slipping out of position, and spending most of my time flat on my back on the living room floor, I've decided that I don't give a flying fart what others think I should or should not be painting, doing, thinking or whatever. This representation is the latest in my final art class offerings. I shall now proceed with my own style and format and no longer spend a lot of money on art classes that don't agree with me!

Upon recovering from back ache, (in the extreme), I have spent today walking from Stonesfield to the Roman Villa remains and back again with fellow 'Militant Tendency' friends who, like me belonged to a well-known organisation called the Green Gym' who didn't deal with a bully and didn't acknowledge us or back us up when we needed it. We are now an independent good group of women who have found a way of enjoying weekly outings together, having lunches, picnics and get-to-gethers without spending too much money, yet having a ball together!

We had our picnic, on a bench, overlooking a Roman Villa that was built in year 4 AD for a very important Roman Aristocrat. The views and setting were spectacular. The Roman invaders certainly picked the best spots. The lambs were bleating for their mothers in the neighbouring pastures; the blue sky was interspersed with cotton wool balls of clouds and the gentle breeze was warm across our faces as we ate. I could almost feel the presence of a Roman woman walking by.

I really must start painting from real life settings... if only I had the confidence!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A swinging time on Mothers' day

I'd planned for everyone (all my daughters and various partners) to help move my garden swing when they all arrived on Mothers' Day weekend. Having been a Management Development person in the past, I knew that tasks were needed to bring together my four lovely daughters after 16 years of animosity. Just like teambuilding, it worked! The swing was moved, but not without difficulty, trellis' were put up on walls and paving slabs laid, while I hobbled around with a healing slipped disc. All my grandchildren ran around at the same time and all of us contributed to the big family meal. It was a success! And at no point was anyone sent to their room for being naughty! Not even me!

Having been laid low, or flat, with a slipped disc for the last fortnight, it was good to be upright and moving again, albeit painfully. Lots of photos were taken, champagne was opened and there were many funny moments. Only one or two awkward moments when a sibling-like remark could've sparked off World War Three. Perhaps siblings always remain so... perhaps there is a constant need for one-upmanship among siblings? Especially among four very attractive and competitive daughters.

Sixteen years has been a long time in waiting. Pity my lovely man wasn't here with me for this momentous occasion.

Even with my daughters here, I still felt lonely. When they all left, I sat on my swing, a G&T in one hand, a cat by my side, (gripping on for dear life as I swung to and fro), and a sun setting in a clear blue sky. A good day.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A matter of perspective

I really must enrol on a drawing course... it is apparent that I don't always get things in the right perspective, and as yet, I don't know the tricks of the trade. The tutor at tonight's art class came around us all, viewing our sketches before we began applying paint... he said mine was very well sketched. However, later, once I'd added a considerable amount of paint, he said I hadn't managed to get the lines in the right perspective. I couldn't help but think, why the hell didn't he tell me when he first came to assess my sketch... too bloody late now! I mustn't blame him, but the teacher in me shouts out that putting students on the right path straight away is everything! He also said my shadows were done differently to how he'd have done them. I used wet-on-wet, he would've used dry on dry! Personally I prefer wet rather than dry, every time!

Ah well, I must keep trying, and as Winston Churchill once said, 'when I die, I will spend the first million years painting, in the hope of getting to the bottom of it.'

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Looking in vain

I have browsed through pages and pages of houses for sale and not one matched up to the one I already have. There was one I liked... detached, Cotswold stone, village location, conservatory, large garden, three bedrooms etc., if only I had three quarters of a million pound! Oxfordshire and even the edge of the Cotswolds is far too pricey!

Funnily enough, the neighbours have suddenly become very quiet... perhaps they've realised at last that I am probably the best neighbour they've ever had... I don't mean to sound conceited, but I never complain, and when the subject of banging doors was brought up by my neighbour some months' ago, I didn't get arsey, but just smiled and agreed that they could be noisy at times, which was accepted with smiles and an apology. I may have to wait a while before moving, but I have decided that move I shall - one day! Meanwhile I shall keep looking for the ideal home for me and my cats.

I'm very restless at the moment and getting despondent that this is going to be another year the same as the last three! Jobless and lost. With no obvious purpose to my life, just a few pleasant hobbies and a few new female acquaintances. It's as if I'm waiting for something to happen. Maybe this is yet another stage in the long road of grief... being lost, as well as alone. Wanting to move on and do something with my life, but despite trying different avenues, getting nowhere. So, I shall decorate the spare bedroom... at least I'll be doing something!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Restless in West Oxfordshire

I am thinking more and more about moving... finding a house that's every bit as good as the one I've got, but with a longer, more private garden. Somewhere detached without the continuous slamming of neighbours' doors; without the damage to my property by neighbours' teenage boys and their friends; the ability to park my car without manoeuvring around the parked cars of neighbours' friends and families' cars; and to be able to enjoy the privacy and tranquillity that comes with having one's own patch of land that is not overlooked. Am I asking too much? While I have a lovely home, I am not entirely happy here. What to do? It's a big decision and a costly one. The first step is to get my house valued and to look on the web to see what's available. The good part of all this is that I don't have to move.

Am I being Restless or Reckless?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Hiding and Lost, or maybe a senior moment?

My cat thinks she is safe and invisible under the bare branches of the Kilmarnock Willow... a place she often escaped to last summer. I think it's because she's getting on a bit in cat years, and has started to have senior moments.

I too, hide when I can't face anyone, or can't be bothered to put on a happy smiley face to neighbours who don't understand my low moments. I hide indoors, put on my favourite music, get some incense burning, make myself a cappuccino and lately, paint something arty. When the back seizes up from sitting down too long, I put on Shania Twain and dance around the living room, doing various back-strengthening exercises while my cat looks at me as if I am having a senior moment.

Three and a half years down the line, I find my sense of humour has returned, albeit slightly more off-beat than I remember. When in London with daughters and grandchildren last week, one of the little treasures got lost in the Natural History museum. Instead of going into a panic, I found it highly amusing that the one child who always sticks to his mum like glue and never takes chances or risks, ended up getting lost somewhere between the great blue whale and the tourist shop. Not the response of a loving grandparent I hear you mutter. I suppose I knew that sooner or later he would be taken to wherever they gather lost children and someone over the tanoid system would call for his mother. I couldn't help but giggle on and off on the bus ride home to Oxford. It may have been another senior moment, or the fact that someone getting temporarily lost is not half as bad as losing someone permanently.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Continuing a theme...

I sorted through lots of photos of my garden flowers, found some of poppies and painted a clutch of them for my latest offering. I still can't get my head around there being either very detailed watercolour artwork, or, as I've been told by both recent tutors, that not too much detail is to be used. Having googled 'watercolour art' several times, I am amazed at what comes back. They vary from fuzzy blended impressions to very fine detailed work depending on the style of the artist.

Knowing when to stop has always been a problem with me, whether it be gardening, shopping, talking, eating, sex or painting. Due to current finances, shopping and eating have been drastically reduced; gardening is out of bounds until the warmer weather; I have few people to talk to (hence the blog), so that just leaves sex and painting - one of which is totally off the menu.

For the forthcoming week I shall be caring for and entertaining various grandchildren and daughters leaving no time or energy for painting. I may not be blogging or painting for a while as I need to security protect my computer and hide all paints; batten down hatches, hide the cats and get the germalene and antiseptic wipes ready. Now I must think about what to do with them all that doesn't cost the earth.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A good screw

Well, I eventually managed to screw in the new door knob with the aid of a replacement screw... all were exchanged without a hitch at the big DIY superstore on the outskirts of Oxford. All my knobs are now matching and none are loose. I feel much better.

The last garden design session was yesterday and I proudly presented my Base Plan to the tutor and had to apologise for the muddy paw prints across the carefully drawn dimensions. It was a really good short course that has inspired me to look for another course that will take me further into the mysteries of garden design and horticulture.

It's so strange to me that I've discovered pleasures and talents that I didn't know I had, and which are so very different to previous career paths taken. I think it must be true that we often only achieve a fraction of what we can really do in life, and that we often fall into a career that is not wholly suited to us.

The worrying part about all this is that time is running out. Can I still achieve some pleasurable milestones before I die? I suppose finding a good screw for my wardrobe door knob was a mini-achievement!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Knobs and Screws

I know I'm not the world's best at doing DIY jobs around the house, but I think I'm better than some! I bought some lovely knobs for my wardrobe doors, which came with screws. Five screwed in well, one did not. Eventually the screw sheared off inside the door. I managed to remove it and the knob. Now I have to find the receipt and take it back... five miles' away! So I shall march up to the information desk and demand a knob with a decent screw!

As for Art class... the example here is a still life painted last night... not really as the tutor wanted it; he wanted lots of bright colour background and bigger and looser with no detail. Sorry mate, but I prefer my own style. Yes, I think I'm developing a style. All the other classmates thought my work really good, so I came away with a smile on my face for a change. However, I don't think I shall be Teacher's Pet.

Also some sad news... a phone message asking me to ring a distant cousin. Oh, oh... whenever that happens I know someone in the family has died. Yes, I was right. My cousin of 62 years died recently... quite quickly... cancer. That's all I know for the moment. Life is too f***ing short!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Cabin Fever

I have tramped to and fro the snow for the last few days, to buy my paper and essentials from the little Post Office a mile away. I have hundreds of great pics to remind me of the magical wonder of snowy landscapes once the thaw sets in.

However, while adjusting my gloves outside the now busy and bustling shop - (full of neighbours I never knew I had who were snow-bound, despite most of them owning 4x4's), a few children - (schools closed), were playing nearby. One little girl wore a pink fluffy hat, she had big blue eyes, pink cheeks and red rosebud lips. Her blond curls were poking under her hat as she ran after two other children. What an angel, thought I... how cherubic and angelic looking against the backdrop of thick snow... in one defining moment my illusion was shattered; "Cum 'ere you fat smelly cow..." her voice trailed off as she scrambled ungainly further down the road trying to catch the others. Ah well, for a split second I was lost in my little world of perfection. Then, as I turned the corner by a not-so-reputable public house, a gang of teenage boys were having a snow-ball fight. I tentatively walked around them, deliberately not looking any of them in the eye, when a boy of about 12 came up to me with a handful of icy snow and with a smile on his face said, "Shall I?" I adopted my authoritative teacher's voice and said quickly, "No!" Then smiled, and ran as fast as my booted legs would go. He hurled the snowball at me but missed.

The roads remain icy; no snowploughs around here, and so I remain incarcerated and have now had enough and want to escape... go to the Gym, go to Garden Design class (cancelled), go to Art class (cancelled), go to latin dance class (cancelled). I am rapidly developing Cabin Fever, and don't like it very much.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Tinkering

I had a great time last night... playing and tinkering with 'Resists'. Like a two year old at play school I experimented with masking fluid, vaseline, washing up liquid, crayons, credit cards, toothbrushes and various other media in order to create special effects within watercolour artwork. Two hours whizzed by. I had to scrub the desk at the end of the session so that the child who normally sits there during the school day doesn't get into trouble!

The tutor brought in one of his paintings, which I must say, was extremely good, and reinforced my faith in his ability. I am learning so much more this term and so glad I changed venue and course.

However, not wishing to use my credit card for special effects, I used my blood donor card instead... due to my not being able to donate blood any more. Apparently, I need it more than anyone else, having fainted several times in the past three years since my lovely man died. I have low blood pressure and a low heart rate, and whenever I'm stressed I tend to pass out... rather like a breed of goat found in Africa. If a passer by said 'Boo' to one of these goats, they'd keel over for a few seconds then get up again and continue grazing.

Now for some more stress-free painting.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Simple and effective

After attending another art class, I've decided that the tutor's individual style doesn't really suit me. He has a very 'loose' style of a few flicked strokes, painting wet on dry, mostly. This is new to me... I much prefer 'wet on wet' for a more softer look. My shadows were not pale enough for his liking, so aiming to please, I re-wet the offending area and lifted out some colour with a piece of kitchen roll... much more to his liking! Nevertheless, I still haven't produced anything at the new art class that I think is suitable for posting here.

However the picture I have posted is an attempt at wet on dry and I think a child could've done better! The phrase "must try harder" comes to mind, although the sky looks reasonably okay. It's simple and effective... and that's all. There are no 'aargh... lovely' moments in this picture. I should just stick to skies.

Despite differences in style, the tutor is actually teaching and demonstrating different techniques, and next week, oh joy... we will be taking in such things as toothbrushes, credit cards... (no, we're not staying at a Travelodge) ... we will be attempting to create special effects on our artwork. Can't wait!

In pursuit of a new career, I trawled the web for Garden Design courses that give a qualification upon completion. One was upwards of £12,000 another was £5,000 and the cheapest was about £400. Tomorrow I shall ask the tutor of the short five week Adult Education course I'm currently attending for advice on alternatives.

There must be something simple and effective I can do to earn a small living?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Wet on Dry

I still prefer skies! This example of 'Wet on Dry' isn't as good as I'd like... the buildings are a bit Dickensian, in other words the rooftops are all over the place. But the impression of reflection and misty evening sunlight is almost there!

At art class I attempted 'Wet on Wet' trying to copy the example of the teacher. Trouble is, I overworked the wet bit and ended up with 'backruns', which can look good in certain circumstances, but not on a still life of flowers. I was quite disheartened and went home with my bottom lip jutting out.

I've since practised at home and I'm still not adept at it. I bought another art book at a sale yesterday and oh joy... it seems there are no hard and fast rules or techniques... anything is acceptable and style is whatever the artist prefers. This makes me feel better. I must just develop my own style and stop trying to perfectly copy others.

My garden design course is going well... I've got great ideas for my patch of land; pity I have no money, strength or energy to make my plans a reality. When I eventually draw my plans to scale and incorporate a bit of watercolour - for effect; I shall post it for comments.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

All at sea

Why do I feel under pressure to get a job or do something worthwhile? No matter how many job agencies or college registers I sign up to and no matter how hard I try to apply for jobs in the local paper... nothing materialises! Do I trust in Fate? Is something waiting for me that I've yet to discover or stumble upon? It seems that I've been asking myself the same old questions for over a year now.

But if I analyse how I am currently feeling and thinking compared to two years' ago, I now know that I've needed this solitary confinement and retreat in order to come to terms with losing my lovely man and to get myself in a place whereby I can operate on all four cylinders again.

I've known others who have jumped into a relationship with the first person to offer a shoulder to cry on; I've known others to jump from one unsatisfactory situation to another... I'm not a jumper, more a cautious plodder. However, I think that the time is almost here for me to jump into something... probably the proverbial s*** heap!!

I'm looking for some divine inspiration to point me in the right direction... an island of opportunity; a step into a future of substance... I've had enough of being all at sea... time to do something...??? Any clues... anyone??

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Confused

It has taken me a couple of days to reinstate (hopefully) my toolbar (while creating a post) in order to upload photos and pics. I don't know what I've done... playing around again! Well, here goes.

It all went wrong when I was playing around with transliteration! I just wanted to see what my text looked like in Hindi. For some reason or other, while trying to get back to basic English, I clicked on something that deleted my toolbar. The only way I'm writing this blog is by editing the draft copy that went horribly wrong. This may become a case for the blog help center if this doesn't work! Meanwhile, in frustration I have scrubbed three large fitted carpets - on my hands and knees. What else is a lonely widow to do on a Sunday?

Today I did my Garden Design course homework and braved the elements to go out and measure my garden after spending a long time looking for the metal measuring tape that I knew I'd put somewhere safe. I found it in my bedside table drawer! I know. Why would I want a measuring tape next to my bed? I need to eat more blueberries and drink more coffee in order to ward off Alzheimers.

I had a surprise today when going into the recently 'held up by armed robbers' post office. As I waited to be served, in walked 'little man from the Jacuzzi', he of amourous notions who is also married, but still keeps trying to get my attention. "ello", he says. "What are you doing here?" says I. "I'm doing some decorating here." he replies. He then goes to the back of the post office where he is obviously doing some work. I can't seem to escape the little man. It was quite strange to see him fully clothed and wearing a woolly hat... up close and with his eyes level with my chest! It all seems to happen here in this remote little village, miles from the Gym and Pool where I usually bump into him!

At the moment my life seems a little surreal... if not confused!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

New Art class

Well, the new Art group at a Community school is a lot friendlier and livelier than the previous course I attended. The tutor is more 'hands on' too. All that said, my artwork during the evening class wasn't up to my personal expectations... I feel I could have done better. But then, the tutor did remark that my No 12 and 8 had lost their 'point'.

The finished picture will not be shown on my blog postings, instead, here's one I created earlier - (a practice in skies and distance). I've paid my course fees, so now I shall have to attend and just do my best. Meanwhile I shall try and create at least one a day in the hope that practice will make perfect, (as my piano teacher used to say).

Tomorrow, along with a friend, I am off to a Garden design course, taking a scale rule and a big pad of paper. I must resist the temptation to take along my watercolour paints too!

Update on the recent armed robbery at our secluded little post office... the gang have been caught; the leader having used his own car for the getaway, then crashed into another car before abandoning it. I just hope that the ladies subjected to the frightening ordeal will take advantage of the Victim Support Service they (hopefully) have been offered by the Police.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Past times

I just love doing skies! I saw this one in my new Watercolour book and just had to have a go! I have seen skies like this many times and have just gazed and thought how great it would be to paint that sky!

I must dig out some of our old photos of sunsets taken in faraway places like Florida, Western California, North Cornwall and the Greek islands.

Tonight I joined, in haste, another Watercolour class in a different location... cheaper, friendlier and with a Tutor who actually demonstrates and explains techniques! Aren't I a lucky girl?

My lovely man and I used to go to Naples in West Florida and always we would go down to the beach to capture the marvellous and spectacular sunsets when dolphins would swim close to shore and the pier would be full of people watching for shark, tuna as well as the playful dolphins. Oh happy days. I never thought that those days would be so short lived.

So now I paint!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Blog Therapy

The Mail on Sunday today has an article on 'blogging' and the therapeutic rewards it can bring. Some regard blogging as either a pastime for 'saddos' or a vehicle for self proclamation and ego-boosting. I never considered why I started to blog eighteen months' ago, only that it gave me an outlet to my grief.

Living out in the wilds of Oxfordshire, with no immediate friends to talk to, while struggling to get over the loss of my lovely man; writing to an invisible listener was (and still is) for me, therapy of the best kind. It is exactly like keeping a diary of thoughts, but with the added benefits of having like-minded or very kind people comment with useful or just kind words. Those of an insensitive nature think it's a way of just saying exactly what you like and getting away with it. No, no, no... it is (for me) replacing a very expensive therapist, who after all, just listens.

I didn't expect anyone to respond to my ramblings, yet I have made a few friends in the process who seem to understand where I'm coming from, or at least, keep me going with their kind comments. Only one person has upset me over my blog writing and luckily they are no longer able to contact me.

In short, thank you blogger friends for listening. Not all of us have such fulfilling lives as those who throw scorn at bloggers!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Frosty Fields

My car said it was -3 degrees as I drove to the Post Office today, hoping that it was open after the armed robbery yesterday. Sure enough, the post mistress was serving concerned and inquiring customers, although no other ladies were working there today, neither was the Post Office cubicle open for business. I asked if she was okay and could I help in any way... but she was resolute, and grateful for supporting comments and offers.

I then went to the Gym for a good workout followed by a swim... (the water, showers and changing rooms are piping hot), before going out and about to take lots of photos of frosty fields. The reason? I would eventually like to know how to paint frost with watercolours, and to that end I've been trawling the web again for courses. Painting white frost on white paper is a talent beyond me! But I'd like to know how!

Tonight there is a full moon and there will be rain by tomorrow, hence catching the frosty pics before it's too late. I can do rain... in watercolours that is! I found out by accident when holding up the pad of a wet freshly painted sky. Most of my success at anything, is due to accident.

Roll on some happy accidents for 2009!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Village Life

Nearly four years' ago, my husband wanted us to buy a house in a quiet and 'safe' area away from crime and vandalism... he'd spent over thirty years dealing with criminals of one sort or another, and being now disabled after a stroke felt all the more vulnerable.

I used to bring him out of the Nuffield hospital at Headington every weekend until he was eventually discharged in May 2005, by which time we had viewed and bought a house in a little hamlet, attached to a small ancient village that has just one post-office cum shop. He constantly insisted that all doors were locked, even though we lived in a quiet lane. He knew that if we had intruders, he was no longer physically able to defend our home, himself, or me. It was such a shift of thought for a man who had always been tall, able and strong.

When my lovely man died, I felt even more vulnerable, and consciously and continually locked all doors, including the garage door, shed door and car doors. When waiting at traffic junctions I would press the internal locking system of my car.

Today, I walked to the village Post Office to fetch my paper only to find the door shut and a few villagers mingling outside. I was told that an armed robbery had just taken place and that the van had sped off and the police were on their way. My immediate thoughts were with the few ladies and the Post Mistress, who have become my friends and who must be in an extreme state of shock. I left to walk home as the police arrived.

I also heard on the National news tonight of a Post Master's son being shot dead at a Post Office in Worcestershire; also, on local Oxford news it stated that a gang that had committed armed robberies in an area of east Oxford had now been caught.

It seems that even in quiet backwaters, or because of being quiet and secluded, our little shops and post offices are prime targets.

I can hear my husband saying, "Lock the doors and make sure the car is locked away in the garage, and don't bother getting a paper."