I went for a haircut today. Julia’s orders. Because of my lack of dress sense she’s keen on my looking as tidy as possible in case someone mistakes me fora tramp. I was going to do my own hair (it hasn’t been done since the start of lockdown) but it can be tricky getting it right so I agreed. I haven’t actually had my hair cut by anyone else for about ten or twelve years, when I had it done on a whim while was in the barber with the kids. For some reason they would never let me cut their hair. The time before that was about 25 years ago. It’s saved me a fortune. Anyway, after enduring a conversation that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years (despite the fact it’s a different barber from the one that did my hair in that shop 25 years ago), I was then charged a price that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years. To be honest, I may start going there regularly as it’s so much tidier when someone else does it. And I had my eyebrows touched up. That’s when you know you are getting old.
The nurse who took my blood this morning is the mother of a kid who went all the way through school with my kids. He joined the army when he left school, went to work on cruise ships and liked the sea so much he’s now joined the Royal Navy. Quite an adventurous life so far. It was nice to catch up.
I also went shopping. They ask you to be considerate to their staff by wearing a mask (and most people do). Sadly, two of their staff and a security guard couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask. Makes you wonder why you bother. Also makes me wonder what message they think they are sending.
I’m now going to think about trimming my beard. If I’m careful I can tidy it enough to satisfy Julia whilst leaving it long enough to scare small children.
Oh, the shopping? I bought her some flowers. And a quiche. I’m back at work tomorrow and I fancy a slice of quiche. also bought steak. I’m going to cook tonight. Baked potato, steak, salad. Looks good, virtually no effort. That’s my sort of cookery.
I sat down to write about ninety minutes ago, read some blogs, tinkered with a sonnet, polished a couple of poems for submission, checked my emails, looked at the website of a magazine for submission details and then, as usual, wandered off on a voyage of discovery as one link lead to another.
Unfortunately, I forgot that I had a post to write so instead of the heavyweight intellectual article I was planning, you will have to make do with some lightweight drivel Again. Sorry, I would like to deliver hard-hitting articles full of facts, but the truth is that although I have aspirations of greatness, I have the brains of Winnie the Pooh.
This weekend we have been eating Cape Gooseberries and tomatoes from the garden. I love the taste of Cape Gooseberries, though the tiny seeds are a bit of a pain. If we had growong space under cover I would always have a few plants as they are prolific, delicious and last about three years before they need replacing (the fruits seem to get smaller each year).
I have managed a few pictures of bees and our new teasel plant. I wasn’t expecting any teasels this year as they are biennial and the seeding was a one-off accident, so this is a bonus. IF these are left to seed undisturbed we should find ourselves with teasel every year. They seem to like out front garden as they are self-seeding prolifically in the gaps between paving slabs.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Red Valerian
I may look for some honesty next, as they have a similar habit and it would be nice to get some established.
I’ve had a bad few days struggling with time management, fluency and my internal editor. I am now just going to sit down and write. This is post 2,300 so I really should have got the hang of it by now.
All that time ago, I intended to advertise the work of Quercus Community and to educate the world about aspects of nature. Eight hundred thousand words later it looks like I ended up writing about poetry and Cup a Soup. that was not how I envisaged the blog developing. Nor was it how I imagined my life unfolding.
Well, I nearly sat down and wrote. What actually happened was that Julia rang up wanting a lift back from the laundrette, we went to lunch at KFC, dropped in at the garden centre and had a drive round. I can’t quite remember, but I think thi is our first outing since the autumn. Unless you count going to work as an outing. Even my social life isn’t so bad that I need to consider going to work as an outing. Not quite.
While we were out I noted the varieties of tree and flower blooming. I’m a poet, I need to know these things. The crocuses are gone, the daffodils are in full flower and the primroses just beginning to show. We did see a good clump of something that looked a lot like purple crocuses, but which turned out to be some sort of dead nettle – probably ground ivy but I’m a bit patchy on identifying dead nettles. They are all edible, so it doesn’t really matter if you are just wanting something to sprinkle on a salad.
With that number of words I could have written eight books. That would be more impressive as an answer when asked what I wrote. “Eight books”, even if they are about Cup a Soup , is a much more impressive answer than “a blog”. And even “a blog” is a more impressive answer than “haibun”. At least people have heard of blogs.
We’ve just had tea and banana cake. We are trying to make the cake last.
There we go, it’s nonsense, but at least it’s fluent nonsense.
I’m now feeling the urge to write about Cup a Soup.
I’ve just been looking through my drafts and clicked on this, as I didn’t remember what it was about. There was nothing in it, so I’d obviously thought of a title and left it at that. I checked, but don’t seem to have used it before, so I must have just written the title and drifted off. I do that sometimes.
Allysum with ladybird
So, I need a post to go with the title. I’ve spent most of the day researching another post and, thoroughly bored, have decided to park it for another day.
Flowers are interesting. These are some pictures I took on my last few visits to the gardens. Some are new, others have been used before. The iris is, as I may have mentioned, is my favourite flower and, though it may not be as striking as some, the yellow flag is top of my list, as it is normally found by water. What more could you want than a glorious yellow spring flower growing near water whilst ducks quack in the background.
Tootlepedal has a particularly fine example of a blue iris on his blog.
Bee in Cranesbill
Bee on Chives – Wilford
I was sorry to learn on a quiz show today that the iris is only number 20 in Britain’s favourite flowers. This is clearly a travesty, and the list was compiled by people who had no taste. The rose was number one, which is not a surprise. They are pleasant enough, nicely scented and very decorative in quantity.
I am now going to fill up the post with photographs, and am going to tell you that I am doing it, as I need a few words to get me past the 250 mark.
The garden needs a lot of tidying, and some new fencing, but as you can see from the photos, the patio is looking good. This is due to Julia’s hard work. So, blessings one and two – a colourful patio display and an apple tree with 14 apples on it.We will have to wait for the June drop to see how things develop.
Blessing Number Three – Julia still doesn’t realise she married an idiot. I am doing my best to hide this from her, though I think it is slowly dawning on her that after 30 years I have shown no signs of improvement.
I have a job. I may not have enjoyed it much this morning when I went back to work but it pays the bills and, more importantly. over the last couple of months it allowed me to be furloughed. If I had still be self-employed the last few months would have been a lot harder. I am slightly ashamed of myself for not sticking with self-employment but accepting that job offer two years ago has proved to be a smart move.
I still have my health. It may seem, as I grumble and gripe, and throw down handfuls of pills, that I am not the healthiest of people. This is true, but I’m a lot better off than many of the people I chat to in various waiting rooms. However, most, if not all, my health problems are caused by my complete disregard for diet and exercise, so I have only myself to blame.
That’s five reasons to be cheerful, which is quite enough optimism for one day.
Pictures are from the garden on the day we had afternoon tea.
If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, I have just loaded 12,000 words from my photos to this post. The theme of my 12,000 words is, initially, that although WordPress can, it seems, develop a new improved editor, they cannot work out a system to allow me to access photos from old posts. They charge me for unlimited photo storage every year but I note, on an old post, that some photos have disappeared. I also note that if I want to access photos from old posts it gets progressively more difficult as I get back beyond a couple of weeks. Once past that the system starts to grind and lock up and flick back to newer photos. At that point it is easier to give up or to search out old posts and either link to them or recopy the photos. That is what I did with the last post.
It would have been a much more exciting post if I had been able to simply access the photos by scrolling down the media file.
Iris at Mencap Gardens
Yellow flowers in need of identification
If I could access old photos easily, this post would be more interesting too. However, due to the clunky and ineffective scrolling system I can only really access photos from the last couple of weeks. They are nice enough photos but they lack a bit of variety, you have seen them all recently, and they are not necessarily my better flower photos.
Marigold at Mencap
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If I were developing a proper 12,000 word piece, I would then move on to muse on the mutability of life and how we change and improvement are not the same things. Life is simply a jerk progression, like the WP photo storage, where we jerk from one imperfection to the next. The final display is, like our lives, a poor reflection of the quality of material available, which has been severely limited by circumstances beyond our control. I think that makes sense, though it may just be self-absorbed twaddle. If that’s the case let’s agree to call it “deep”. That’s a useful neutral word to cover many eventualities.
Alpine Strawberries – Sherwood
A Bear in a Tree
A poppy, still crumpled from the bud
There are several things I could move on to discuss as an ending. Cooking with arthritis is a current topic of interest. As a condition, not as an ingredient. Despite the new medication my fingers are actually getting worse. More fingers are being affected and more joints within those fingers are being affected. The index finger on my right hand now has painful swellings in all three joints and I could probably find hand modelling work as something out of Lord of the Rings or for those appalling Versus Arthritisadverts we now have on TV.
It seems to me that the name Versus Arthritis was developed by an idiot and approved, probably at great cost, by a board of idiots. Same goes for the TV adverts they run. In fact, despite the advertising I have spent the last two years not seeking help from them because the adverts are so bad. Today is the first time I’ve actually been on their site, and though some of the stuff appears useful, I may not rush back.
I was amused to see that one of the organisations that merged to form Versus Arthritis was formed in 1947 as the British Rheumatic Association (BRA). Even in 1947 I’m sure bra was a well known term for women’s underwear. Assuming that the organisation wasn’t formed by 14-year-old boys, it looks like the pitiful naming tradition has continued over the years.
Cooking with arthritis used to mean that my fingers ached after kneading bread. Now it means I can’t grip a vegetable peeler properly, can’t (on bad days) cut through veg single-handed and can’t fetch and carry without using both hands, as my grip has gone.
Tonight’s tea is roasted veg with pasties, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. I may be arthritic, and dreading the new improved editor but I’m not malnourished.
Note on the Dominic Cummings cut-out I mentioned a few days back (though I can’t actually find the reference, so I may just have thought I mentioned it). It was taken down but my sister sent me a links after seeing something on Twitter. Here is a link if you want it. I find it amusing, even if the story is now dead and brushed under the carpet.
And at just over 700 words, I think there is just time to sign off, and take my tea, carefully, from the oven.
I backslid yesterday morning and went shopping on the way back from the hospital. I’ve let things slip a bit on the kitchen logistics and am short of a few things. This does not include carrots. We have enough carrots to eat them every day for the next week. In fact, we are going to have to eat them every day to make sure we get through them.
Julia made tea last night. I bought a bag of beansprouts while I was in the shop because they called me as I walked past. This was one of the high points, as were the four fresh rolls, the packet of ginger biscuits and the bunch of flowers. They didn’t have any decent marmalade, I didn’t see any mustard and there was, as usual, no flour.
It was tricky shopping because it was a spur of the moment thing and I didn’t have a list. I didn’t actually forget anything, but I did fail to find a few things that were probably there, such as the mustard. It was probably somewhere in the shop but it was Aldi and the aisles are narrow so going back would entail passing too close to people. At the best of times you get too close to people in Aldi, and there were several people shopping who didn’t seem too bothered about maintaining a proper distance.
The new flowers – artistic silhouette, or badly underexposed? The blue statice is the last survivor of the previous flowers.
I probably shouldn’t have gone shopping because we could have lasted until next week, but I’m beginning to crack under the pressure of lockdown. I did want a few supplies, and I did want to get something for Julia but I also, I admit, wanted to do something normal like shopping.
As you may be able to tell from the header picture, there is a possibility that Julia is feeling the pressure too. Look past the luscious fresh vegetables and the delicious chilli tomato sauce. Where, I ask, are the noodles you would normally expect with a stir fry? It did taste good with pasta, but it was a bit of a surprise.
I think the lockdown is starting to get to all of us in different ways…
“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” – Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
Julia has had a lecture from Number One Son. She let something slip about her trip to hospital and he wanted to know why she hadn’t told him. I’m beginning to know what my grandparents felt like when my parents told them off for various misdemeanours (like the time we called on my grandmother and found her standing in the kitchen sink to replace a light bulb).
I have a fairly hands-off approach to the care of the elderly and, as with my child rearing, feel that they turned out well despite my neglect.
Anyway, Number One Son and his partner sent Julia flowers. That is what is in the picture. I’m not actually sure whether partner is accurate, because nobody ever tells me anything. I’m considered to be “tactless”. However, he’s been hanging round with her for several years now and she hasn’t applied for a restraining order so I deduce that they may be an item.
We bought the curtains at a car boot about 15 years ago
Then it was my turn, as he texted me to make sure we had enough food in.
Ha! Do I look like I’m going to let myself starve? I read a quote recently – you can see it at the top of the post. It applies to many other things too. The fight against coronavirus shows how important it is to have the right equipment. The food shortages show how important it is to have strong supply chains.
Anyway – I have enough food to eat well for the next two weeks. After that I will run out of bread and milk, so will have to have black tea and make porridge with water (yes, I know that’s the proper way, but I do like milk). After that I have food for two more weeks eating out of cans and packets – including Spam and canned haggis. I’m pretty sure there are enough odds and ends for a few days beyond that too, but they really don’t bear thinking about.
At the moment I still can’t get a food delivery for this month, so I’m going shopping on Wednesday morning. TESCO has a Wednesday morning slot for the elderly and infirm. If it cuts down on queuing I have no pride.
The top two pictures show the flowers and, regrettably, the Car Boot curtains we bought about 15 years ago. Garish, dated, but functional and cheap.
The other shows roasted veg (carrot, parsnip, leek and broccoli) with cauliflower and cheese sauce. I made the sauce like Welsh Rarebit, hence the yellow colouring – it’s from the mustard.
The rain photo in the header was taken exactly a year ago, on 3rd April 2019 as I tried to pull away from the kerb after visiting a local shop. That is currently shut. I can’t say that I’ve been pleased at the way my life has developed, and wasn’t exactly on a high when I took that photo, but I can’t say things have improved over the last year.
On the other hand, it’s not raining today.
The flower photos are all from the Mencap Garden in Wilford. The garden is currently shut, and so is Mencap. The clients are all well, and getting bored being at home. I can tell that from the number of calls Julia gets from people complaining they are bored. They can’t all understand why they are being kept at home, and one actually thinks it’s because of a fault at the garden. He is unable to grasp the concept that the country, possibly the world, has closed down. To be honest, so do I.
Mencap Garden April 2019ERA
Mencap Garden April 2019
Mencap Garden April 2019
Unfortunately they don’t all have a good grasp of time or the social niceties of telephone calls, tending to ring when they think about it, regardless of it being 7 am or midnight.
One of the saddest sights I’ve seen in recent weeks was a young man crying in TESCO. He was in his 20s, had learning difficulties and was accompanied by a career (or possibly his mother – I only saw them for a moment). He couldn’t understand where all the food had gone and why he couldn’t buy the things he wanted.
Just over two percent of the UK population have learning difficulties. The world is a frightening place for many of them at the best of times, but I’d hate to think what it is like for them at the moment.
Some, who have family support (and money) will be fine. Others, lacking family and financial stability, will not be doing so well.
I’m going to post some flower pictures from 4th April last year and then I’m going to count my blessings.
Things that make me happy – Number One – Julia at a tearoom
Just a few photographs of happier times when I could actually get out into nature. I’m still allowed out, but as I’m not allowed to drive anywhere to exercise all I can see is tarmac, concrete and gardens. Unfortunately I can’t see myself being welcome if I start poking my lens into people’s gardens. Looks like photography might be severely restricted.
I’m having a bit of trouble searching for photos, and some of the ones I’ve uploaded don’t seem to be loading properly so I’m just going to press the button and see what happens.
I will be writing another post soon but that probably won’t be as cheery as birds and flowers.