Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Still got that old magic

My husband does magic tricks for children.  He's totally crap at it which is why for adults watching him it's absolutely hilarious.  For 8 year old Grace aka Miss Gullibility it's all very 'spooooooky, Granpa!'  This pic was taken when Granpa turned over the last card. 

A sight more valuable than money.

For some time my husband has been developing cataracts and at his most recent eye exam was told that he was on the cusp of it being time for surgery.  While having a GP check up  this morning he mentioned it and his GP tested his sight and told him that the impairment to his vision would now make it illegal for him to drive.  As his work takes him a couple of hundred miles from home and other forms of transport aren't an option this presented a quandary regarding his two contracts for November.  We decided he would cancel them.
Then it was a case of doing some research about the surgery - the 'best' NHS hospitals for cataracts, their waiting times, their surgeons etc.  The very quickest NHS provision would mean 22 weeks without working and that with a Trust which has a less than excellent record on MRSA infection.  No NHS Trusts appears to list information on their surgeons, not even their names.  Where's that famous 'choice' there?
He cannot stop working for 22 weeks, so we have no choice but to self-fund.  The most experienced and best qualified opthalmic surgeon we found gave him a consultation appointment for this Friday (NHS initial consultation target is 6 months) and can do the surgery within the next 2 weeks. (NHS target 13 weeks after consultation)
The total cost to have both cataracts done including lost income will be in the region of £9000.  We're lucky that we can afford it - altho given that he has to drive to his work then we have to afford it - and after all what good are savings for if not health.  But it really shouldn't be like this should it?

Monday, 29 October 2007

I've discovered how to load an album!!! :O)

I'm not too sure about how well this Add an Album thing works out.  You have to click the pics to see them larger and then they're huge.  Huge but fab <g>  I think the background that You've Got Pictures adds is a bit of a distraction too.  What do you think?

My heart leapt too!

As the weather today was so lovely, and as I'm to be tied to the house for the next 10 days with workmen here, my hub and I went out to Bettws Y Coed for lunch today and to see the autumn colour in Snowdonia.  We had a bit of a walk in some woods by Penmachno and the trees were enchanting as you'll see in the photos below and then we went for lunch and a wander around Bettws itself. 
It was there as we stood on a bridge watching the foaming crashing water rushing downwards through gaps in the massive rocks that we saw, for the very first time in our lives, salmon leaping the falls.  We've been to Bettws and walked various stretches of that river times without number but never even knew that salmon were in the river let alone that they leapt the falls.  It was absolutely fantastic watching fish of 24-30" in size leaping three or four foot out of the water and then falling in twisting turns back into the torrent, often crashing into rocks en route.  Sadly as this particular stretch of water is all very commonplace to us I'd left my camera in the car but it's a sight I'll never forget.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Remedy to hurt feelings

In an answer to my earlier blog whinge Dear Agony Aunt, Stuart said:
you do it because it is the right thing to do
why should expect antything in return?
high moral ground
This set me thinking about how we decide an action is 'right'.  'Right' and 'Wrong' in this particular context carries a moral weighting - as Stuart implied in his reference to the high moral ground.  Is it then morally wrong to cease doing something which is normally reciprocal even in circumstances where there's no reciprocation or acknowledgement? 
I'm polite to strangers (unless they cut me up on the road) even tho I know for a fact that they'll never reciprocate because I wish strangers were more polite to me and because for all I know they may be a reincarnated Mother Theresa and I'll go to hell if I flick them off.  But mainly I'm polite to strangers because to be so is imo part of maintaining a sense of self-respect.  Whether they acknowledge my politeness or not doesn't affect my behaviour the next time because I don't want to be the sort of person who flicks stangers off for no reason.
But that's different to two-way personal relationships.  Aren't all two way relationships reciprocal, or if they aren't, are they actually two-way relationships at all?  Hmmm.
Stuart also said
nah don't like that
kneecap the bitch
That made me smile but I can't of course because I love her, and her father loves her.  And I love him more than I want to kneecap his eldest.   And at the end of the day that's why I'll keep on sending cards and gifts because her father's a typical man and if I left it to him she'd be the one ending up with hurt feelings.
I do of course know the answer to my dilemma.  I'm going to knit her a nice jumper in puce for her next birthday.  Size 20 <weg>

Dear Agony Aunt

I've been stepmother to 2 of our girls for 27 years.  Several years ago the elder one was involved with a sort of personal development 'commercial cult' type programme during which she had to reconsider her relationships with her family.  This lead to a very large number of rather odd telephone calls to her father and to me over several months where her reason for calling was to say that she loved both of us and that we meant the world to her.  It really was a series of I Just Called To Say I Love You phone calls. <g>  Prior to that of course we'd assumed that she loved us but there you go, now we'd been told.  Repeatedly. 
Now, it's only a little thing I know but for every single one of those 27 years I've bought and sent her birthday cards and gifts.  In all those years I've never received even one card in return, not birthdays, anniversaries, get well cards, nothing, zilch, nada.  
Today is her birthday again and I txted her first thing to wish her a very happy day and it struck me to wonder why I keep on doing it when she doesn't even acknowledge receiving the cards and gifts let alone reciprocate.
How do people learn how they hurt others if no-one tells them?
Should I say something - and if so what? - or just keep shtum (and cut her out of my will <g>) ?
Finally, am I a dreadful self-centred woman to even think this way?

Saturday, 27 October 2007

A woman of courage

A few days ago I wrote a whinge about whingers, about X Factor competitors who cried all the time.  I guess it's part of my make up to wish that folks could be more reserved with their emotions and save their tearful outbursts for when no-one can see or hear them. 
I know that to some people it will make me sound cold and heartless but I think that much of the public crying we see these days is either an attempt at manipulation or is a sign of a weak character who is dependant on the empathy of others. 
Having said that, I have to admit that sometimes I've cried in front of my husband but, except when I've been crying over someone else's illness or death, my tears have always made me feel angry at myself for acting in a pathetic way, mortified with embarassment and ashamed of my lack of self control.
Well that's me, it's how I am.  I admire stoics and hope one day to become one myself.
So now here is someone I consider a real stoic.  This woman has my complete admiration.  Read her Journal from the beginning.  It's not long and I think, like me, you'll be stunned by her courage.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Some children just like to play a fair game of Hide and Seek in the woods, others will go to extraordinary lengths to win.  Even when they can't climb down from their perch.  Some children have evil Grannies who hear them sniff, suss where they are and then quickly walk off out of sight, leaving them stuck.

I don't know where some children get their competitive streak from. <g>

Monday, 15 October 2007

Autumn garden

Spot the dog


Saturday, 6 October 2007

Trivial rant about trivia.

I wonder if other people sit cursing at the twaddle on their TVs as I so often do? 
Earlier this evening I was almost driven to distraction by the endless synthetic pleas for sympathy from the current crop of X Factor hopefuls.  The father of one of the older ones died sometime last year - " I never thought it would happen" - FFS I think, so you actually thought your parents likely to outlive you???; one of them is a single father " He brought light into my life and I'm doing it all for him" - yes well I daresay being a Sundays only parent can make you feel that it's all sunshine and light tho I doubt if you make it into the bigtime you'll still 'be there' for him;  another couple of them are simply immature 14/15 year old crybabies - "I've never had a chance before" - so you expected to be famous before you reached 15 FFS??  All in all there was at least double the footage of snotty noses and tearstained cheeks than there was of them actually sodding singing!
I think they should make a rule that at the first sign of attempted manipulation they should be given their marching orders.  And some of them should be booted out loooooooong before that, wretchedly dull chirpsters that they are!
I wonder if you've seen the same DFS sofa advertisement that I have, and whether you too thought (or in my case said) 'Good God above, do people actually pay for THAT horror'?
When I was a kid I used often to ask my Dad if there was any actor or singer, or indeed anyone on TV or in film or theatre that he DID like.  Now all I need to do is start wearing my old work suit trousers for gardening and I'll actually BE my Dad.  Maybe that's a notion to cheer up that weepy woman on X Factor.

Garden update

The beginning of October is the start of my autumn.  In my flower garden many of the late flowering plants are well into it, purples and pinks and burnt oranges abound and the grasses are a beautiful oaty colour.  Even so I have to ruin the display by cutting and splitting and chucking and moving, and it has to be done before the unworkable weather comes in.
In the orchard I'm waiting for the last pear tree to ripen up while I wander about picking up fallen Bramleys from the dewy grass and sorting them out - nice and clean and unholed to the kitchen, bashed and holed over the fence to the ponies.  The ponies are feeling their oats again and spend much of the day 'bulling' in anticipation of a visit from the stallion.
The late vegetable harvest is well underway with about 50lbs of humungous onions doing their final drying off on the empty staging in the polytunnel where the last dozen or so pounds of tomatoes are hanging around in the last of the heat.  My pumpkins are fantastic, purple skinned and orange fleshed 'Crown Prince', and they're lurking amongst the huge yellowing leaves.  Gallons of fantastic soup stored in their skins for the winter, replacing the tomato soup lost to the blight.  My bell pepper plant from last year is still doing well with about 8 green peppers slowly turning garnet coloured.
In the kitchen it's been all go with bottling fruit and mixing mincemeat but today was my husband's fave of the season - I've drained off the plums in brandy, the plums have gone into a) my husband and b) the Christmas puddings now simmering on the stove and the brandy is filtering ready for my store cupboards.  Best of all, England have just beaten the Ozzie Rugby team to a frazzle so some of that Plum Brandy will be going awol as part of his celebrations  :O))