Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday, 30th January, 2013

 The snow has gone now, we had some rain one night which washed the last traces away, and wonder of wonders! We had a little sunshine at the weekend. Ideal days for one of our drives, but we were late getting started both mornings, so didn't venture too far afield, although we did go and see Quartet. It was funny, and moving. I think you'd like it.  

I am really tired lately. I don't know if it's that the Christmas activities have taken it out of me, but I seem to be needing so much sleep again, I am rarely up before noon the last week or two, which I hate, but it's the only way I can function. Then of course I am not tired at night and end up going to bed late, which just makes the whole cycle worse. I am eating a low glycaemic diet again, and when I was eating like this last year, I had a period of several weeks when I felt the best I have for years. It doesn't seem to have happened again this time, maybe it was just a coincidental fluke. On the positive side, my leg, which has been painful and stiff for months and I was thinking was arthritis, has been much better for a few days. A few weeks ago I was prescribed Vitamin D as I am deficient in it, so I am wondering if it was a problem caused by that, as I know it can cause bone problems, and maybe the supplement is helping. Fingers crossed. 

I spent a lovely few hours yesterday with my Mum and Aunt, looking at old photographs. We came across a picture of my cousin when he was twenty or so (he is now fifty), and I really thought for a moment that it was the Young Philosopher, it was so like him! Isn't it strange, the way these likenesses run through families, in ways you don't expect? 

No prizes for guessing what I will be doing today (see photo!) There is laundry everywhere and I still haven't put away my Christmas and birthday presents. I've basically ignored all the post I have received for the past month as well. I think I am still in Christmas mode! I hope to get things tidied up in time to sit with the latest episode of Mr Selfridge and my knitting before it's time to cook dinner. Meatballs with Ikea sauce this evening, and then I am out to my book club. 

Hope things are well with you and the girls, 

Debbie  x

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013


I actually had to re-title this post twice as I had put the photo up Tuesday and started writing this on Thursday!  It seems these weeks keep sneaking by so fast. 

I had the little one home three days sick with a stomach virus. While the initial part of the sick was not so nice, it was a dream to be home with her all day. I didn't even care that I wasn't getting anything done the first day as she basically sat on my lap and slept on and off all day. The third day she was feeling a bit better and challenged me to a game of Monopoly which is the  There was such a nice relaxed rhythm to our days.  I would get Em off to school, help out K, do some chores around the house.  All the Christmas things finally got taken to the basement and my kitchen got a good sort and cleaning.  Ah, on days like those I dream of being a stay-at-home mama.

It's snowing again here today.  Just started, it's about 2:00 in the afternoon.  We aren't expecting much but the girls will get out of school about an hour and a half early.  I will still be working until about 6:00 pm and am hoping I don't have to drive in any.  As much as I love snow I HATE driving in it.  I am glad to see that you got your snow.  Hooray!!!  About time.  Our birds are going crazy this week, eating everything in sight, I will have to get birdseed and suet again this weekend. 

So it's been a pretty quiet week.  I have dinner out with some old friends on Saturday and am taking the girls over to my once sister-in-laws for some art lessons.  Maybe she can teach me a thing or two, but I doubt it!

Hope all is well with your bunch.

Warm wishes!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Friday, 18th January, 2013

Hello Jen,

We have snow! It's been falling steadily all day, but lightly, so we only have a dusting, but it makes everything look so pretty, even little urban yards with wonky bird tables and leaning fences.

I am writing this on my iPhone as yesterday my laptop decided not to connect to the Internet any more, I looked into it a little and the Diagnostic something which should be running, apparently isn't and it looks likely that we (as in, not me) will have to do a system restore.

I really like your hair! Mine was a spur of the moment decision when actually in the chair, it usually is, when I decide on something drastic. I would like to have streaks put in really, but resisting as its do expensive and time consuming to keep up with the roots every few weeks. I don't know if I will keep it short, my usual pattern is cut it short every few years, then grow it again.

The book you are reading sounds interesting, what's it called? I like the idea of micro movements. My friend Mary, who was on the Mondo Beyondo course with us, has something she calls the 'back of the envelope theory of creativity'. You write down what you want to achieve and next to each item, add the tiniest thing you can do to move it forward.

We did see the Hobbit. I was a bit unsure as it is the only book I remember the teacher reading to the class when I was little that I really didn't like, though I can't remember why. I really enjoyed the film anyway. I would like to see Les Miserables this weekend, I think there is a showing on Sunday that has subtitles for the Prof.

Your theatre trip sounds lovely. We saw War of the Worlds in December, the Prof's birthday present from April that he had to wait a long time for! We are spoilt for choice here in terms of theatres, cinemas, we have several to choose from and of course the West End not far away. I know how lucky we are to have so much on our doorsteps, but like your brother, I envy you those trees.

That's all from me for this week. I hope this posts alright from the iPhone. Another cosy night of knitting and TV this evening, we've been working through Pillars of the Earth this week on DVD, have you seen it?

Have a lovely weekend,

Debbie  x

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I love seeing you again!  It must have been awhile since I've seen a photo, because I don't remember your hair being that short.  It's cute.  I cut my hair yesterday.  It's the first time it's been shorter since I graduated from high school which was 1990, so that's been (ugh) twenty-two years ago.  I was a little unsure and have been kicking it around for about a year now, but bit the bullet finally and I like it, it's cute and bouncy and feels good.  I'm mourning my long hair a little bit, it was such a part of who I was, but I figured will grow out if I want it too fairly quickly, but for now I'm happy.  Lots of compliments today, which made me feel better. 

Thanks for the advice on the teenager issue.  Em is just about twelve now, so I can only imagine what more fun there is to be had.  It's flashbacks of my Mom and I with her.  I told Mom the other day I didn't know how she didn't kill me, and she said, sometimes it was tempting.  The last few days have been pretty mild.  It's ups and downs I guess.  I will take your advice though about spending time with her.  Even if she is a cross monkey!!!

Sounds like you all have been having a great time.  What wonderful trips.  I envy you going all these places and learning all this history.  We had been a bit overwhelmed by Christmas but we went to the theatre on Saturday to a production of Cinderella with my Mom.  It was her birthday presents to us.  It was a fantastic production, actors, costume, set were all gorgeous and we had front row orchestra seats.  We stopped to see my brother and his girlfriend after.  They recently moved to the city (Baltimore) and we stopped to see their new place and dinner.  It is so different being in the city.  We talked at dinner about city living versus country living and agreed there are trade-offs.  I love that they have so many amazing restaurants and shops and of course, theatres and museums and such, but my brother said he is envious of all my trees that I have here, so I guess there are pluses and minuses to both.  Though it was a fun visit I could never see myself living in the city.  I was quite confused as we drove around (Mom drove, not me) and all the noise and cars and hustle and bustle made me feel overwhelmed.  I will take my slow, quiet days here and not complain about the bellowing of the bull or the barking of dogs.

Have fun going through the photos with your family.  From time to time I have sat down with my grandparents to look at their photos and once we start I swear I could just stay all night.  I love looking through them.

I am reading a book and though it's about seeing your creative projects through it made me think of both of us.  It talked about being overwhelmed and instead of giving up and doing nothing it talked about doing micro-movements.  I thought it was very applicable to everyday life as I am the worst procrastinator ever and I know that with your CFS some days it is hard for you.  It talked about how just a series of less than five minute tasks can lead to getting things done.  I thought I might give it a try at the house.  Like I will put two things away today, or I will clean off this one little section of counter.  Some days I think we have to give ourselves credit for the things we do rather than harp on all the things that don't get done.  There's always a list of those isn't there.  But if I think that today I did grocery and two loads of laundry and cleaned the cat box and gave myself a pat on the back for keeping going when I'm dead tired from working and cooking and tending two demanding children than that helps.  Tonight the girls went to visit their father and I actually fell asleep on the couch.  I woke up about a half hour later and thought well that was nice!  I don't know if that's helpful or not, but I like the whole micro-movement idea, perhaps I will copy it and send it to you.

Well, it's getting late, the girls are off school the next two days and we all three have off school and work for Martin Luther King Jr day on Monday, so I am looking forward to a long weekend.  No plans except taking the girls and friends to see The Hobbit on Monday, (did you say you saw it?) and Em has a project where you turn a pair of old jeans into a skirt, so we may try that. I swore we were going to do a quilt together this winter, but so far the fabric hasn't been brought up from the bins yet.  Perhaps we can try that.

All for now, we have rain here the last three days, did you send it over?  Just Kidding.



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Hello Jen,

Sorry to hear things are a challenge for you at the moment. The Young Philosopher was an easy teenager really, to be honest, though I don't know if that was because he was home educated from the age of eleven. There's so much less to rebel against when there's no homework, schedules, or having to get up so early, and also not the same kind of peer pressure. When he did get uptight about something though, he could argue for England, and he still can, it's exhausting when it happens. I read a book years ago called 'How to Behave so Your Children Will Too' and one thing that stuck with me, is the idea that children behave in a certain way because they are getting some kind of pay off. The idea is to work out what that pay off is for them and then damn well make sure they don't get it, and hopefully the behaviour will change. Another thing I think can help is to spend more time with them (yeah I know, exactly at the time when you are sick of the sight of them!). Maybe a lunch out just the two of you, or special time working on something together when K is in bed? I don't have any answers, just the odd thing that I found helped a bit over the years.

I have been a bit blah this week too. I do get fed up at home all week on my own and not always well enough to do much. I think I said something similar last week! I find it depressing too, looking at my poor little house that I haven't got the energy to much with. I did go out on Tuesday though, with Mum and Curly Girl, to a local talk by a survivor of the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster, the largest civilian disaster of the Second World War, when 173 people were crushed to death as they descended the steps to the underground station, which was used as an air raid shelter. It was a very moving story, and I will be going to Bethnal Green in the future to see the planned long-overdue memorial for which funds are currently being raised. 

This weekend we have been out and about a bit. Yesterday we went to a talk in the local church hall about the history of tea, you would probably have enjoyed it! Today we had tickets for an exhibition at the Museum of London, one of my Christmas presents to the Prof. Entitled Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men, it centred around the practice of grave robbing in order to provide doctors with bodies in order to find out more about the human body and to improve their skills, which was very prevalent at one time. This is much more the Prof's kind of thing than mine, but I did find it interesting. 

We've been researching some family history again this week, too - and I am really pleased to have found the name of my Great Uncle who died aged 21 in the First World War, on a brass plaque in a church in East London. We have been round all the war memorials we knew of, looking for his name in the past, and we finally found details of the memorial plaque his name is on online last night. We visited the church this afternoon, but couldn't get in. We will go back another time. As you said, I am very interested in family history and always plan to put something together, and never get around to it. It would be nice to work on that this year, I have made a start by planning a day with my Mum, cousin and Auntie to look at all the old family photographs (also eat scones and drink tea, obviously). 

So, a busy few days for me really. I have been wondering today why I feel so tired, and then writing this out to you now I realise how busy I have been, so no wonder! That and the fact that I only got five hours sleep last night - reading in bed too late. 

I do hope there is nicer weather this year - you are right, I didn't get to do much with the garden last year. I did put some bedding plants in pots and baskets, but then nothing thrived very well being constantly waterlogged, and it was mostly too wet to sit out there. My little mosaic table is all green and will need a good scrubbing when the weather turns a bit warmer, at the moment it's taters outside (there's some cockney rhyming slang for you) so I am staying firmly in the warm. In the Spring I have plans for sweet peas as  always, my favourite! and I would like some tomatoes and maybe some other veg that I can grow easily in pots. I am hoping the blueberry I bought last year will survive the winter, too. I haven't thought much further than that, yet.

That's it from me for now, it's 7.40pm and I am going to watch some TV, have a cheeky glass of cherry brandy and knit. Then an early(ish) night. My kind of evening. 

I hope you are feeling brighter after a couple of days off work. Look forward to hearing from you soon

Debbie  x

P.S.  The photo was taken just before Christmas. I forgot to tell you I had a mad moment in the hairdresser's and told her to cut it short!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Here I am again.  It's late.  I'm in bed and sending this to you quickly before I go to sleep.  It's been a bugger of a week.  Both girls have had colds.  We've had three key people out sick this week at work (which in our small office is half the staff).  We had a little burst of snow on Sunday morning which was lovely to wake up to, but was gone by mid-afternoon.  This week it's been about 50 degrees which I guess to you would be about 10 degrees Celsius.  (I guess it's weird we have different measurements than the rest of the world, I always think about that when I consider sending you magazines with recipes in it!!)  Anyway, while I am not a huge fan of winter, I don't like this "sort of" winter we are having.  The temperatures are going up and down and up and down on a regular basis.  I bought the girls a sled last weekend so now we are sure not to get any snow. 

I've kind of had the blues this week.  I am having a horrid time with my oldest right now.  I don't know how a teenage boy was for you, but an almost twelve year old girl right now is a horror to have in the house.  I don't know what happens, Em has always been a good girl, but she's really pushing the limits right now and declaring her opinion on things loudly and sarcastically whenever she feels like it. I can let a lot of things go, but she's pushing the line of respect and I've pulled out the big guns and made some threats I will never follow up on "If you can't respect me, you WILL NOT live in this house".  As well as ones that I will follow up on "No phone, no computer for a week". I hate to see where we go from here and I hate that I feel like I'm not managing her correctly.  I've always considered myself a good mother, but right now I feel at a loss.

I'm glad you had a nice Christmas, and I am sure it is a huge change once the Professor ends his holiday and heads off.  Some of my decorations are down.  The tree and the greens are still up and yes, my cards are also hanging on the door.  I will probably take them down this weekend.  Taking the tree down always makes me sad though.  I love having a live tree in the house.  I let one stay up so long one year that when I went to take it out all the dried needles fell off on the way out to the door and by the time I got it outside the tree was bare!!  I love your chains and think you've got the right idea, blue is my favorite color too!

I liked your television updates!  See I knew it all wasn't proper English television.  Yes, we do get all those shows.  Downton 3rd Season just started here to much anticipation.  I recorded it and probably won't get to it until Saturday and I just got the first season of Call The Midwife on DVD  for my Grandmother for Christmas though it was in such high demand it just came in this week.  I haven't seen it yet.  The girls and I all love Doc Martin.  At first I wasn't sure but now we are doing marathon runs of it, although I'm a bit disappointed in Season Four so far but only as most of the characters are not getting along.  I want to move to a little village like Portwenn.  It's so tiny and lovely with all those little houses on the hill.  It is done in Cornwall, which I of course know nothing about, except it's beautiful.  I could have myself a farm there.

I hope 2013 brings you some good health and much less rain!  If I remember correctly you hardly got any gardening in did you?  I miss your summer photos out at your table and your Auntie's bench.  Thanks for the praise for the Kindred contributions, I am very excited and impatiently waiting for it to arrive! I have pretty much decided that writing is the way I want to go in 2013, with some photos thrown in for good measure, but definitely the writing.  I remember once you talking about doing family history?  Or a similar type of writing, are you still thinking of that?  You had quite a way with it.

Good for you for for finding activities, I am trying to be less of a homebody here.  I will start working with our local cat rescue group here in about a week and a friend of mine and I are considering starting a book club (one where people actually discuss the books!) We don't have anything like the WI (is it?) that you go to.  It's a good idea really.  Mostly any community get togethers here are church related. 

Well that's it for now.  Off to bed, it's getting late.  Looking forward to hearing about your week.  Hope it's been more peaceful than mine (eye rolls).

xo xo xo


Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Hello Jen, and hello to 2013!

It was a nice Christmas here, too. We spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the extended family as always, and then we have had a lovely relaxing week. Lots of reading, lazing around and eating goodies. I barely even cooked a dinner - actually I cooked ONE in about eleven days. The Prof was off right over the holidays and went back to work on the 2nd January. I am missing him, now I am back to being home alone all the time.

The decorations are coming down - slowly, which is how I do most things. A bit here, a bit there. Yesterday I tidied away most of the Christmas presents that were scattered around the living room. This morning I removed all the Christmas cards from the doors where I displayed them this year, they are in a pile on the table waiting for me to go through them all removing the bits of blu-tac. In the picture is the knitted 'paper' chain I made this year to drape over our mantel mirror. I am thinking I might make some more in non-Christmas colours to use at other times. Maybe an Easter one next, in Spring colours. A blue one, for the Prof and the Young Philosopher's birthdays (blue is both their favourite colour) Maybe I need to get out of the house more....

It gave me a chuckle what you said about our television here -  we have so much drivel on! I bet you just get all the lovely 'Englishy' things, Downton, Doc Martin (which actually I have never seen, is it good?), Lark Rise, Upstairs Downstairs....there is a lot of rubbish on as well, honestly. We do get US programmes a bit, I have seen police car chase type things, Judge Judy, those CSI programmes and Cheaters seems to be on a lot! We don't have any 'extra' channels either - the Prof did before he came to live here, but like you, I am too cheap! We watch a quite a lot of history programmes. For Christmas I was given the two series '1900 House' and '1940s House' which were on about 13 years ago. I really enjoyed them at the time and am looking forward to revisiting them. We watch a series sometimes when there's a good one (looking forward to the return of Call the Midwife soon!), and recently we watched Masterchef and also Strictly Come Dancing, for the first time in years, though I watch it recorded and cut out a lot of waffle with the FF button!

I feel fairly blah about 2012. There were some good things in there, notably a couple of lovely holidays and days out, and a few weeks when my CFS receded enough for me to almost feel normal for the first time in about four years, but mostly I haven't felt well, and that in combination with the wettest year on record cramping my style, made it not one of my favourite years. I haven't written much, or taken many photographs. I think I just lost my mojo there for a while.

This year, I have plans! I am hoping for improved health, more photo opportunities, a new and improved hovel house, more writing, lots of reading, and some new experiences. I have been looking already for talks/events going on around Essex and London and hope to learn some new things.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. Mine is going to include finally getting the new toilet seat put on (can you hear me, Prof?). According to the Young Philosopher, he broke the lid of the old one whilst hoovering. I have no idea how, unless he was standing on it! We will also be taking down the tree and putting it in the loft, and going to see the Hobbit.

Oh, and before I go I must say huge congratulations to you on one of your photographs being on the cover of Kindred magazine, and a poem inside! You must be thrilled. I have just ordered my copy. Well done you.

More soon

Debbie  x

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

 Hello my friend, it's been some time.  Happy 2013!  It's good to be back in this space again.  I've missed our constant correspondence and look forward to these weekly letters sent back and forth.

It's a New Year and yet somehow things don't feel much different.  Usually on New Year's Day I start with a cup of tea and a slow walk through the back path in the woods, but this year my girls had friends sleep over to celebrate and so after very little sleep I found myself cooking bacon and flipping French toast on a griddle in the early hours to a crowd of hungry girls and a living room that looked as if a tornado just hurled through.

We were all tired and cranky. My Em especially needs her sleep and was a monster all day and we spent the majority of the day under blankets watching back to back episodes of Doc Martin.  I often think of you as we watch all our British imports television.  I love them so much more than some of the other drivel that comes on here.  I love that most of the shows I watch run 45 minutes to an hour and a half, allowing me to get engrossed and more often than not, run past my bedtime.  I am wondering though if we get a skewed vision of British television and it's not all what we get on PBS our public broadcasting system.  I wonder what television we have ends up there?  We used to get BBC America until I became too cheap to pay for the extra channels.  We watch most everything on rented DVD or instant streaming now anyway, I don't know why we even have a television.

So, a rough start to 2013.  We had a lovely Christmas, as we've said before about it being our favorite time of year, but I am tired.  I am reading a book titled  The Wild Out Your Window that my grandmother bought me as well as a book of Mary Oliver poems.  I am afraid my reading time had all but lapsed in December.  The photo above I took of K this morning. Today was the girl's first day back to school after the winter holiday.   She got a Kindle for Christmas but I love that she has the real book beside her too.  We somehow can't get over holding that book in our hands. 

She's reading the Skulduggery Pleasant series from Irish author Derek Landy.  Em is obsessed with it right now and pulled her sister in as well. I was given the task of finding Em a coat based only on an illustration of the book so that she could mimic the twelve year old hero.  Only three have been published here in the States and my sister bought her copies off the internet for Christmas as well.  She is all in an uproar that she cannot enter the U.K. contests and register for the fan club.  She's also taken to wearing her dark spy glasses along with the black, wool button down coat when we go out, with her lanky frame, tousled short hair, black coat and spy glasses, you would think she was trouble, but she can't hide how blasted cute she is.  She has reached the age where she doesn't appreciate as much having her photo taken.  It's all eye rolls and frustration from her these days.  I think it's called hormones.  Bless the gift of girls.  I can't complain, I'm lucky.

So I look forward to hearing from you.  I heard you saw last year out with more of the dreaded rain, hope it has not brought your spirits down.  I wish you could have enjoyed the snow we had here.  It was just enough to be pretty but not cause trouble.

Lots more to tell, but until next time.