Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Short and Sweet

Although you could be forgiven for thinking this would be about all my daughter's previous boyfriends (I could never understand her preference for short men),  it actually means I am writing a very short post.  It occurred to me yesterday that the only two things my husband finds fault with in me are that I never notice when he has had a haircut and I have never in all our 36 married years remembered our Anniversary, no, not even the first one. Yesterday was no different (thank you for your congratulations) - 36 years on 25th Feb. There was one difference: this year he forgot as well.  In the end we both received text messages from big son (who had set up a reminder on his Facebook): we then guiltily texted each other (pretending we had remembered).  Of course, we were found out later in the day, but had a good laugh.  I haven't yet paused to examine the psychology of why I have these two failures, one of observation and one of memory and why they upset my husband.  I think it has something to do with personality types. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

A Bitter-Sweet Reminder

So why am I thinking about Christmas trees in February?  My husband decided to take hold of himself and clear out 'stuff' as a prelude to us having to move once our house is sold.  When he visited our garden shed and came out with our Christmas tree in its box - it was a gut-wrenching moment of truth for me.  We've had that tree for about twenty years and it goes up without fail in the same position at the beginning of December every year. (Well, it's too hot here in December to have a real one).  I suppose the writing was on the wall over the last few years as we have not always had Christmas Day at our house as the children have married and acquired their own houses and children, and ipso facto, their own Christmas trees.  Still, it's not a total disaster - the tree is not being thrown out, merely moving to our holiday/retirement house where it will have a new position each year, with the same ornaments that I am pretty sentimental about. I am curious to try to anticipate how we will feel on the day that we finally leave our current home of 22 years.  I think when it is totally empty of all our stuff, I shall be able to let go. It will be the third home we've had since we married but we've been here far the longest.  Our realtor was amazed to hear my sister-in-law admit that she had been in her home all her married life since she was 19, a total of 49 years - on a farm.  But that's farm life: they build not only homes but establish dynasties tied to the land.  Different strokes. My mother used to deplore the current trend amongst young-marrieds to buy 'houses', fix them, sell and move on to the next.  In her view they never have a 'home' at all.  But in the end, home is where the heart is, isn't it? A house is just a building, after all.  (And in the end, if you don't give your post a relevant title - no-one reads it!)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Guilty Pleasure of Swearing

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I have just come in from the garden, on a distinct high from a frenzy of snail attacks.  These have become a regular early morning thing this year as I am determined not to let the little b........s consume one more succulent leaf of my vegetables.  I have tried all the usual methods of defeating these useless, slimy and insidious animals in the past, including vast quantities of snail bait, traps consisting of saucers of beer, dropping them into pails of salt water, surrounding them with egg shells and stamping on them. I've been considering surrounding my entire patch with broken glass but have reluctantly shelved this idea because of my small grandchildren. Without a doubt I've elicited the greatest pleasure from stamping on them - accompanied by language which I would blush to utter in the presence of people and which would make my mother turn in her grave. My parents' worst swear words were "Damn, blast" and when extremely provoked, "Bugger".  As the next generation I have used these but graduated mostly to "Oh, sh...t", although I wince at the connotations. I use the current worst one, "F....k"  only extremely sparingly and in the most tolerant of company or (sometimes excitingly) in the bedroom. I do consider myself pretty well brought-up, so I have never sworn in the Delivery Room, even though, in my day, there was no such thing as an epidural: we were expected to suffer in lady-like silence, sometimes for days, and this we did, merely groaning/yelling in as repressed a fashion as we could to indicate pain. There was some research done recently in the UK (demonstrated on camera by a nicely-built, tall and handsome young doctor), which showed that our pain threshold increases remarkably if we are allowed to swear out way through it.  (Duh - you don't need to tell women that). I was gob-smacked though, at the amount of F words in the film: "The Wolf of Wall Street".  After all, the constant use of the word didn't seem to have any kind of therapeutic effect on the manic cast of traders but it did become very wearing on the ears of the cinema audience.  Still a brilliantly made film - if about 40 minutes too long. And most of those minutes were the awful orgies if you ask me.  Imagine having the licence to use 'that word' so relentlessly that you no longer get a thrill out of it. Sad.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Science Lesson in the Kitchen

Sorry - I confess to a Google image

There are times when I wish I had taken Science as a subject at school for a little longer than age 13. Witness my odd experience with my Kenwood Chef last week.  I was making cup cakes for Book Club and for the second time recently noticed that my hands were covered in sooty-looking stuff after I had set up my machine. I assumed it was something to do with the oily parts at the top,  but was puzzled nevertheless. When I tipped out the cake mixture I noticed it looked a bit of a greyish color but still didn't think much of it. Maybe the flour was different this month?  We duly had Book Club and the cakes all disappeared but when I came to wash the dishes the next morning I was horrified to find that when I picked up the K-beater my hands were immediately black again.  On closer examination I found  the beater was the culprit. And the stuff was quite hard to remove.  I asked my husband about it later that day, when big son was visiting and the two of them shared an 'aha' moment, when I admitted to having placed the item in my new dishwasher.  "SALT!"  the said in unison, explaining that the beater was made of pewter and the surface was oxidising while being washed by my new, super-efficient, salt-filled dishwasher.  After much scrubbing and a return of its previous color, my husband pronounced it still fit to use.  No-one at Book Club got sick, but that may be because I had parsimoniously made only 9 cupcakes for the meeting, having run out of eggs, hoping that as usual, perhaps three members would be absent.  Murphy's law:  everyone pitched up that night so we were twelve and it was a question of the loaves and the fish and my miscalculation was exposed.  In the end, I cut them all in half. Perhaps that was for the best, health-wise.  I should mention that our Book Club is all about the books: we usually only have tea or coffee unless someone feels like taking something to eat. So it was only cup cakes that night.  I wonder what the oxidised substance was? Carbon?  (Sextant?)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Frames of Reference - Naked Mole Gets Rat Dressed?

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When we see what we expect to see and hear what we expect to hear, we get a glance into our own secret psyches. Example:  I was shelving books at the children's library this week and one title caught my eye.  I thought it said:  
     "Naked Mole Gets Rat Dressed".
What is actually said was:  "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed".  What was I thinking?  I excuse myself because I had not actually heard of a Mole Rat before.  But still.  On another day, I was paging through a book of children's rhymes and substituted 'bum' for 'tum'.  Okay, okay, so I think more about sex than I perhaps should: it's not easy keeping up with your husband in your sixties, especially when he still thinks you are the best thing since sliced bread. I am not willing to let that go in a hurry and so I expend a fair bit of effort on keeping my end up (so to speak). Lo and behold whilst thinking on these things, I came across the following in a detective novel I am reading.  The detective hears a newspaper vendor shouting out the headlines:  he hears,  "Turkle, an Honest Liar".  What the man actually said was, "Two Killed in Hunslet Fire".  So there we are. PS - Try as I might I could not find an attractive picture of a mole rat, but at least I now see why in the story, he needed clothes.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

You Know you are Looking Old When....

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We all know the one about 'your mother's arm comes out of your sleeve' and the one when people say 'you look just like your mother'. The next thing was I noticed my mother's legs emerging from my swimsuit.  Today I was at the supermarket and a new cashier smiled at me and said, "Pensioners' Day today!" without even the shadow of a question in her voice. My expression felt like a cross beween joy (at receiving a discount), disappointment (at being recognised as an oldie), and finally indifference, (who really gets excited about 1.5%).  The thing is just to keep a firm hold on one's sense of humor and be grateful for small mercies. After all, I might spend  more next time.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Life's Like That

My husband started the New Year with his annual diet pronouncements, which mostly consist of,"Blah..blah..I'll start next week..."   There is usually some crisis or visit from family which requires 'normal' eating, so we/he had several reprieves and only started this week in earnest.  He began with a flourish - expensively breaking a front tooth on a raw carrot so this has set us back a bit financially.  Should we continue to buy the (expensive) diet food or go to the (expensive) dentist? Quite a conundrum, as yet undecided. Something else re small son this time: hubby went ballistic one morning; went starkers into the shower to find his shower sponge had vanished.  Had I thrown it away, he yelled?  "No, haven't touched it", (me, highly indignant).  Why don't you ask your son, I suggested.  Small son, as yet still reposing in his bed was rudely awakened.  "Oh, sorry, dad," said he, "I thought it was mommy's."  I did idly wonder what had happened to his own sponge - and later that week, found it very dirty, lying in my dirty linen basket.  Then I remembered: I had grabbed it when cleaning the bottom of the shower one day, in too much of a hurry to get the scourer from the kitchen. That's what comes of having one's house on the market:  I am constantly having to be prepared for anyone coming to view and I keep finding places that have to be urgently cleaned. For the last few weeks, we have been painting, fixing, cleaning - all of which I find extremely boring but I have to face facts: we have to sell this year and try to enter retirement without any debt. I discover I am very sad to even think of saying goodbye to the house we have lived in for 22 years but we have to move and I am trying to look upon retirement as a new adventure.