Sunday, 29 April 2012

Coming down with a bump...

Jim has finally washed up the box of crockery and cutlery found in his room this week. I purposefully left it for him to do and in his way until he had done it. On top of that he had to wash up his tea things as well. 

He did it, but only after numerous reminders. I think sometimes teenagers think that fairies come in the night and do all the chores for you... 

Well, not in this house...

For tea we had a new kind of pasta. Tripolie. I chose it because we have a lot of pasta dishes and wanted something new to try. Tripolie has no translation in Italian, I think Tesco has made it up. 

Charlotte has an internet friend, Andreas (Andrew). He lives in Sicily. He said there is no translation. 
We believe him..

I think it should translate as Tentacles...  
Possibly the ones from Davey Jones's face..

It is very filling though, as one piece is the equivalent to perhaps three pieces of spaghetti.

In other news, I finally gave in and bought a book of stamps this week. Before the price increase. I do not often send mail and if I do, it needs to be weighed and therefore costs more than just a stamp. As I have been making cards, I am more likely to send some now. I only got one book. Many of the people in the queue bought multiple books, however even before the price goes up, a book of 12 is still quite expensive.

And now for something completely different... 

I was recently prompted to get my medicine draw in order by an unfortunate accident yesterday. 
It reminded me of how vulnerable I can be as I have no partner, no one to take care of me should I become ill or hurt myself. I know the children will do what they can and Mum would willingly step in and look after me. 

But in the immediate event of me being hurt or ill, I need to be able to just let the children do what they know to do to help me. They need to have things on hand and clearly marked if I can't explain myself.

The simple occurrence of a migraine can leave me debilitated and unable to function, maybe for days. I need someone to bring me my tablets and water and then look after me, bringing me more tablets, water and if need be, a bowl. 

They also need to be able to feed and clothe themselves as well as run the house without me.

There is nothing worse than trying to explain what you need when you can't speak for being sick, can't move for falling over and the pain is so much that you can't think straight at all..

So I am leaving instructions...
Inside are all the different migraine tablets that I have. Some are stronger than others but are now clearly marked.

The accident was not a migraine but simply a wobbly chair leg. It had been wobbly for some time. I had been sitting with Charlotte at the table as she was sorting out my computer for me, again... 

I lent forward and so did the chair. The leg collapsed under the chair and I hit the floor in a very undignified manner, straight on my bum. Hard...

It took a while for me to realise that nothing was damaged too much, but I have wrenched my back a little and the shock wave went straight up to my head. I had to slowly get to my feet with Charlotte's help. We did laugh, but only because it was then clear I would be okay. 

Charlotte said "You're such a muppet, what did you want to do that for ?"

It had made me feel really unwell and shook up for the rest of the day. I won't be doing that again.. 

Previously the doctors had told me I must not go on fairground rides, roller coasters or bungee jumping... 

I think I might add chair jumping to the list.

I have to be careful with my back anyway, this has bought it home to me though, just how careful I need to be.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

What to do on a rainy day...

Yesterday the rain rained off and on all day. It was quite miserable and cold. The day started off with a beautiful blue sky, it clouded over quickly and then the rain fell... all day...

Not only did it rain in the back garden. 

 But it rained in the front garden too...

There was only one thing to do...


Remember this pile from yesterday, well it had to be done. I managed most of it but I was washing and tumble drying all day too. There is still more to do even now. 

The washing machine chugged along and the tumble dryer tumbled round all day.... 

I was worn to a frazzle by tea time, so we ordered a pizza for tea.

This was transformed into...


And this...

And this...

It was just so tiring, even Florrie had to go 
and have a lay down...

He just had no energy left...

And finally, (this has nothing to do with ironing, washing, cats or rain...) 

A picture of me when I was younger. Mum gave me the frame when we were de-cluttering last week. 
I haven't changed a bit, well, not much :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Ladybirds and laundry...

It is, for now, a glorious day outside. The birds are singing, there is a gentle breeze, the sun is out and the sky is blue. But not for long I fear. 
I really don't want to get on with the chores I have for today. Lately on a Friday I have been helping my Mum to do a little de-cluttering in her computer room. Today though, Sam is not feeling well and is at home. De-cluttering will have to wait until next week. Being at home today I must get on with the housework and laundry. 

Before the blue sky clouds over as the weather lady says, I have just had a little wander around the front and back garden, thinking over what needs to be done out here. It is really getting out of hand and needs a few hours of hard work to get it straightened up again.

Camera in hand, wandering around the garden 
(as you do) I spotted a ladybird, so took her picture. Looking more closely I saw more, and more.

They all looked up and smiled for the camera. ;)

"Cheese"... Do ladybirds say "Cheese??"

I fully intended for this next picture to be 
upside-down.....*cough cough*

The spider in the middle didn't want to be left out so she smiled too..

This area at the bottom of my garden vexes me greatly, I have no idea what to do with it. I realize I am fortunate enough to have a garden at all and so I want to make the most of it. I just can't decide whether to plant shrubs and butterfly bushes (Dads Honeysuckle is there already) and make it a shady area for sitting and watching and bees and butterflies. Or use it, as it was some years ago, as a vegetable patch (which will need to be maintained and worked on) Or level it, grass it over and have a bench down there to sit and just keep it low maintenance. 

I think I know what I would like but need to work out how to do it and how much of it we could do ourselves.

It is quite a large area, under the carpet was the old veg patch so it is just dirt. Under the shingle is dirt and the slabs that are at the far end are just laid on the dirt too.

I will think about it some more...

There are other areas that bug me too. This bird table has seen better days and the weeds below are flowering and need pulling out. 
Don't even get me started on the alleyway behind...

In the front garden there is this area in front of the living room window. This is were stuff is just left neglected and it all needs to be put away somewhere else. 

Another decision I need to make is what to do with these dead conifers. The ivy has taken over them and is growing profusely. I kind of like that though, perhaps I should leave it to cover the whole tree and it will become an ivy tree instead...

While I have sat here typing, it has slowly clouded over and has begun to rain. We recovered the parasol yesterday and I have put it away for now. The bunnies will just have to be brave and have their cover on to keep them dry now.

I have got to go, the laundry pile beckons and the ironing pile is in danger of falling over if I don't get on with it...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A good/bad day

Do you want the good news or the bad news??...

Whenever I am asked this question I will ask for the bad new first in the hope that the good news will compensate...

The bad news are the pictures below. The good news is that I made some lovely cards today and had a really nice time doing so, but I forgot my camera and so have no pictures to show. :(
I will endeavour to get some later in the week.

Once a week I go to my friend Alva's house. Another lady, Janis joins us. We make cards of varying types. For example, anniversary cards, get well cards, thank you cards and so on.

I love it !! 

Alva bought from her neighbour, a massive amount of stock for making cards. You name, it she has it.

I always have the best time. 
Making, chatting, making, cutting, sticking, chatting... 
The cards we make, Alva sells to friends or family, Should we need a card to send ourselves, we just make one and take it home. The money she makes goes towards buying more things to make. We don't give ourselves the money for our work, we are paid in companionship and enjoyment. I must get some pictures, we do a really good job :) 

And so, to the bad news...

On having a tidy up this morning before I went to make cards, I ventured into Jim's room. Gas mask at the ready, I walked in, opened the window and walked out. You need a few minutes before you re-enter for the fumes to dissipate. The floor is always littered with stuff.. 
But this time there was more than usual in the way of cups and plates. I counted 7 plates of varying sizes, 3 cups, 1 glass, two large bowls, 2 plastic bottles and various knives, forks and spoons. Amongst  all this paraphernalia were many items of food in various stages of decomposition... 

I think some pieces of food were in the early stages of fossilisation and others had cultures growing on them and possibly penicillin.
So I put it all in a box for him to wash up.. :) 
Aren't I a good Mummy...

When I got home, I found a few feathers...

And then a few more...

In numerous places around the house...

And yet strangely, no bird... not yet.

Now, I will give you 10p if you can tell me what's missing from the photo below without looking at the next picture...

Have you guessed???

Well done if you said parasol :)

But where is the parasol ?? 

Oh look there it is....

In my neighbours garden..... (well, it has been windy)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Epic "To do" list

Lists have always been my thing. I love lists, lists to keep me on track, lists to keep me up to date, lists so I don't have to forget, or is it, have to remember... 
I forget..... 


This last week the weather has taken a real turn and the early sunny spring days that we were enjoying are all but a distant memory. The rain is pouring and the wind is up. It is set to get worse over the course of the day. The children have gone to school with their hoods and umbrellas held tight. 
The cats have found warm places to sleep. 
The bin men are on their way and the cats do not like it, they are sleeping with one eye open...

So, Okay, lists...
 During these rotten weather days, Charlotte and I sat at the table and discussed how bored we were. 
Not that we would want to "play outside" anyway, but the constant rain had put a cloud over our mood. 

In our conversation we discussed all the things we would like to do if the weather was better, 
then all the things we would like to do in general, if we had the money and time... 

I suggested writing a Bucket list, a list of things to accomplish before you die. 
Charlotte said "Trust you, that's far too morbid, how about an Epic to do list?"

So here is my list..

Write a book. 
Visit Milan, Florence and Venice.
Ride a horse. 
Milk a cow.
Go butterfly catching.
Go to America.
Help out in a soup kitchen to feed the homeless.
Hold a tarantula (Maybe with a glove on and my eyes closed)
Go camping.
Make pottery things on a potters wheel.
Have chickens.
Go to the theatre or the opera.
Learn to play the piano.
See the Mona Lisa.
Eat seaweed.
Learn my times tables off by heart.
Watch Gone with the Wind.
Hold a monkey or a koala.
Stroke a capybara.
Bang cymbals together really loud.
Learn archery.
Feed a giraffe and an elephant.
Visit Cardiff where they film Dr Who.
Touch the Tardis.
Go for a trip in a glass bottomed boat.
Make and eat a pound of candy floss.
Go and see an episode if Q.I.
Visit a castle with a moat, turrets and a draw bridge.
Host a mega party or bar-be-que for all my friends and family.
See the northern lights.
Paint a mural.
Learn sign language.
See Cirque de Solei.
Drop a melon and a large bag of flour off of a multi-story car park..
Empty and clear out the loft.

You see, I have high hopes, dreams and aspirations. 

And now, because it is raining, the only one I can make a start on is learning my times tables. 
So I'm off to find a maths book.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Signing on...

My Name is Rachael, and I am Unemployed... 
There, I said it... I have no job. No paid employment. And whether I am bothered about it or not, I find there is a stigma attached to being unemployed.

 Today I have had to go to the unemployment office and sign on. I do this every two weeks on a Tuesday at 10:36am. Not 10:35 or 10:37...10:36am, 
On the dot... Unless they are running late...  

A while back they changed the signing times. This was because the unemployment office became too busy during each half hourly slot. So they spaced out the times you have to sign-on.. 
They don't like you to be early, they like you to be on time. If you are five minutes late, there could be a chance that you loose your entitlement that week.

I make sure I am early, I stand outside and look through the window at their clock inside on the wall. Waiting for my time. Their clock's time is different to the time set on my mobile phone. The mobile phone that is set to the BBC News' clock's time. The mobile phone that is set to the pips before the news broadcast on Radio Four, the one that is set to GMT....
(GMT being the time at which all clocks in the universe are set) 
The employment office clock however, is set three minutes fast...

As you walk in, you instantly realise that this office is much warmer than your own house after the heating has been on all day..... and night. 
I hand in my booklet in it's little plastic cover to the flustered lady at the booth. She is flustered because this simple task is done amidst a full scale argument between a man who has come to sign on and the two security guards, BJ and Clive... 
He has been told he is late, and that there could be a chance that he will loose his entitlement this week.

I take my seat just round the corner on the large red pouffe seat. Opposite me is Pauline Fowler, Pauline Fowler with far too much Avon at her disposal... 
She seems nice but by her expression, she clearly wants to be somewhere else. That, coupled with the fact that in the last minute, she has huffed heavily three times... 
We make eye contact, which is not always a good idea here, she gives me a weak smile and I smile back, she huffs again and Says " I wish they would ****** well hurry up". I smile weakly.. 

A man has been standing to the right of our pouffes and is looking to catch someone's eye who can help him...
Doesn't he know you have to stand in a line at the booth??... 
The security guard spots him and escorts him to the line in front of the booth... He tries to explain that "All I have to to is to get someone to take this letter from my bank and put it in my file, I don't need an appointment... No I don't, I just want to hand it in.."

 He huffs and then takes his place in the line with his letter, he gets to the booth and is told he needs to make an appointment, alternatively he could post it to the person the letter is intended for. Neither they nor he know who that is...

A young lady is talking loudly on her mobile phone, she is sat under the sign that asks you to refrain from using your mobile phone whilst in the unemployment office. She says to her friend on the other end..
"I knooooww, reeeallyy? what an idiot..Why?....yeah...waiting in-I....Takin ******* ages man" The security guard silently motions to the sigh above her head. She slowly turns her head to read it. She tells her friend on the other end "****, I've gotta speak aatside, for ***** sake...." 
Not removing the phone from her ear or pausing the conversation, she wanders out the automatic door. She stands just close enough to the door outside that every time she takes a drag on her cigarette, the door opens...

A large man, 6 ft 5 or more sits on the blue pouffe to my left, he is wearing a blue beanie and his dreadlocks are so long that he has to re-adjust his seating so that he doesn't sit on them. He sits back, confident and relaxed. He smells of an exotic shampoo or shower gel, he looks casual but clean and tidy, he certainly doesn't belong here...

A lady walks in, she is tall and slim, she is wearing a long green wax jacket, she is wearing a faded green hoodie underneath the coat with the hood up and tied up under her chin. She stands at the seating section and begins to empty the contents of her bag on to the red pouffe in front of her... 
Doesn't she know she should not do that here, doesn't she know she is not allowed to wear a head covering in the employment office...?? 

The security guard spots her and explains that emptying her bag out is not allowed and she must remove her hood....
She turns to speak to the security guard as he walks away, as she does this, I realise she is wearing a full length pink towelling dressing gown under her coat...
 I actually think to myself, "maybe it's wash day??"

She calls to the security guard as she takes off her hood, "I'm not exactly a terrorist am I ?" " Yeah look, I've got a knife in my pocket..." 

OH DEAR....Doesn't she know that she's not....
never mind, clearly not...

Both security guards approach her quickly and quietly, in hushed tones they explain that "You cannot say things like that in the unemployment office", "You cannot suggest that you have a weapon. If you do, we will be forced to restrain you and the police will be called"...

"Mrs Plummer??" I am called, I dutifully walk, not run, to the signing desk, without my hood on, on time, my phone is on silent, the time on it is correct but we won't argue about that today, I have no weapons, I have washed, I am clean, the only make-up I have on is clear lip gloss and haven't huffed once.....

Oh yes, every single day, for the past two weeks,
  I have scoured the job websites for work, read every inch of the vacancies section in our local paper, asked at two local primary schools for vacancies and applied for three jobs on-line. 

We talk while I sign on about how cold and hungry the signing-on lady is, she has had cornflakes and a crumpet for breakfast, I suggested porridge may keep her full for longer, I also mentioned that it might not be the best position for her desk, by the automatic door, she said it keeps opening but no one comes in. She also said she doesn't drink very much and maybe she is thirsty, not hungry, I agreed, I said that I think you are supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, we agreed that neither of us do that. She thought that not eating porridge and drinking enough is probably why she is cold and hungry... I agreed, we laughed, we said goodbye and then I came home...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Making do with what you have...

For now I have no money that is spare. Each week the money that comes in, goes out. Occasionally there is an amount of money that can be used to maintain or repair our home and garden. I budget for every penny. And so there are times when you have to just make do with the things that you already have. We can't afford to buy things every time we need something, so we use what we have.

Today Jim and I set about having a tidy up in the garden. It hasn't really been touched since the autumn. Now that the sun is out and the showers are more frequent, the grass and weeds have begun to grow.

It seemed a good idea at the time to pave over the back garden. When the children were little the mud that was brought into the house was a problem, also the upkeep of the lawn was not easy as those jobs were predominantly left to me. With four children and the housework, there was little time to mow the grass and keep it from turning into a jungle. I wish now that it was all grass, the children are older now and don't make mud pies any more. :(

This morning we tidied up and used a shovel to scrape the grass from between the slabs. We borrowed Mum's lawn mower and cut all the really long bits round the edge.







We also moved the rabbit hutches and tidied the area at the top of the garden.

Behind the hutches are two wicker chairs. The seats have all but disintegrated and so I have used a piece of strong mesh from the old little green house we once had, to make a seat base. For the other I have used a square of wood from the shed. It fits perfectly and when we need to use them, you only need to bring out a cushion.





In the shed I found a cover that was intended for a patio table and chairs. We only have the chairs and I decided to use it instead as a cover for the rabbits. To keep it in place, I put the ladder on the top.

We also used two upturned recycle boxes to put the hutches on. It makes it easier to clean them out if they are higher. If they are off the floor there is less chance of the hutches becoming damp too.

We have generated a bit of rubbish and it is surprising just how much needs clearing away, most of it will be put in the garden recycle bin.

Not perfect, but much better :)

In other news, I planted up the last of the bedding plants that we bought from Katie's school. I re-used the hanging basket I had last year, or was it the year before? Anyway, I think it looks lovely. :)

When they begin to grow and fill the basket, it will look even better.

I used the rest of the plants in a few pots and a shoe at the front door.

This shoe was left by workmen about five or six years ago at the top of our road. It was left on the grass verge for three days. It had rained many times and I figured they would not come back for it now..

At that time it looked much newer than it does now. I waited until the end of the fourth day and when it got dark I took the shoe and ran home.. 
I threw it over our gate in the alleyway and ran indoors.

I didn't touch it for weeks, just in case someone had seen me and came to re-claim their shoe.. 

They didn't, so I put a plant in it.

So that's it, We are worn out... I'm now eating left over Chilli from the weekend for lunch. Only Tesco on-line to do, make beds, feed the cats and tidy up everywhere :)