Tuesday, May 29, 2007

pond life

Some of you may remember that I am very happy with my tadpoles. They are getting unfeasibly fat - they look fully ready to pop - and have finally grown little tiny froggy legs. (pictures will enlarge if you click on them - go on. look at the little legs!)

No further newt news - Tiny Lorraine Isaac Newt has not been sighted again. But she clearly hasn't eaten all the tadders (phew) - there are still at least 10 of them lolling about (with the odd wiggle here and here) and waiting for their transmogrification.

In the meantime, a local frog has popped in and splashed about once or twice. I hope it will eat some of the little gnat larvae which are also squiggling about in there.

I'm very pleased with my frog pool. Here it is in its early stages:

Once a builders bucket-thingy which Dizzy and I lugged up the road late one night after liberating it from a skip.

Next to my fabulous shed, with which I am still just as pleased. (for the full story of my girl shed, click here)

The pool is already started to look more at home

though it has quickly developed a coiffure of blanket weed and duckweed which I think I will have to deal with if I want to go on being able to watch the pondlife (no unsightly mullets in my pond, thankyou very much).

[spot the surreptitious snail in that second pic]
{hate the little blighters}

So I' m also very happy with the transformation of this end of my garden.
This is what it looked like a year ago:

and here

thankyou to all my friends and family (agent, script-writer, producer everyone who knows me blah blah blah) without whom I couldn't - or at least wouldn't - have done it.
I just couldn't get motivated to do much in the garden last year - other than the big clear up - and I wouldn't have done anything, i think, without friends and family helping out. This year I can't spend enough time out there, it soothes my soul.

And having some water in the garden is wonderful - I'd not anticipated how much of another dimension it would add, even such a little and static tub of water. I got the idea from this book - if you have a garden, think about having a go, its easy and quite exciting. (tubs like the one I'm using can be bought pretty cheap in garden centres)
[notice how I resolutely ignore the implicit suggestion that frog pools such as these are ideal for kids]

I now have plans for a larger pool, near the house, hopefully with some kind of moving water.... a project to keep my father busy in the Autumn i think.

Friday, May 25, 2007


happy/sad, bitter/sweet, last/first - that was my birthday.

It was almost exactly a year since the definite diagnosis and prognosis for mum's cancer and now the endless year is over and seems almost like a dream. With many aspects of nightmare. But there is not much for which I'd exchange all the precious time I've spent with them over this year and for the new depths of closeness which grew between us.

Except to have her back.

This was the first birthday without my mother - the last birthday with a card written by/from her. She and dad had organised and written all the birthday cards for May, before she died. Thats what she was like. Her writing is scarcely recognisable for hers - its evident at a glance the time and effort it took to write the words, and she knew it was the last time. How will I ever be able to take it down from the mantlepiece?

My fathers been staying, and we've been having a bittersweet time. Enjoying gardening, sitting in the sun, crying, holding hands. We've been finalising plans for a thanksgiving service for my mum, which will be in a few weeks time. I'm sure it will be good, a celebration of how wonderful she was, and another kind of closure. There are so many goodbyes when someone dies, its not just the once, it seems to go on and on.
But I'm also kind of dreading it, there will be an awful lot of people there, mum was special to so many, and I think it will be quite overwhelming.
But we've been looking through old photos, selecting the best. Bitter and sweet.

So my birthday was sad.
But happy too.
Happy to have so many messages from people who care about me.
Happy to be with family who love me so much.

And little things help.

Even in the face of the huge catastrophic life and death stuff, it cheers me up to see that my tadpoles have little legs. (will post pics soon). And that my roses are blooming beautifully. And that there are sparrows feeding their babies on my bird tree. And that I have morning glory self-seeded again in my patio.

I'm also happy with my new birthday iPod.

and with my iPod socks. (only 6 in the packet tho' - what am I meant to do the other day of the week?)

And I'm overthemoondelighted with my new armadillo.

Designed and handmade specifically and specially for me by the clever and talented little purl one, (who makes gorgeous knitted toys...) - she is named Rose after my lovely wonderful friend who commissioned her for me. Isn't she adorable?

Click here for a larf.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Nothing to do with dairy produce.

"Butters" is (or was... could be i'm out of date already) sauwf london slang for ugly. Butt-ugly, presumably. To be pronounced, of course, without clearly enunciating the "tt"s.

as in "as butters as the back of a bus".
A london double-decker bus, of course - but sadly wouldn't be a routemaster these days.

My water butt - only about 8 years old (received on my xx birthday) - has an unrepairable split in its butt. I have tried smelly sticky supposedly waterproof repair gunky stuff, twice, and carefully, according to manufacturers instructions, but without success. Didn't do what it said on the tin.

So - I have to buy a new one. Which gives me the excuse to upgrade to a more slimline model, with also hopefully greater capacity.

After all, who doesn't like big butts?

Or - should I get one of these butters butts?

yes, these are all water butts, i kid ye not.

Which one would you choose for me?

The slim-line water butt i covet costs rather a ridiculous amount of money. But i'm going to buy it anyway, justifying the expense firstly on the grounds of environmental concern, and secondly on the grounds that its my birthday.

For anyone who's interested, there are some pictures of me on last year's birthday post - click here if you like.

Friday, May 18, 2007

seven tits

Thanks Joyce for tagging me.

Admittedly, my first reaction (after laughing so much through your post, right up to that last line) was "poo".
But once I came round to the idea I've appreciated being kick-started into this next post after the previous. So, really thanks.

This did start in my head as seven tits.

And they are here at the end of this post. But it then evolved into a seven days post, and seven things about the seven days.

1. Seven days away from home, seven days which felt like seven weeks in a very strange timeless land.
My mum had returned home (where she wanted to be) after 2 weeks in the hospice but after only 2 days, she was rushed back in again, haemorrhaging; the hospice team* - with their expertise, wisdom, intuition - had kept her room ready for her. After a long bedside vigil, she died and after 7 days we buried her.
(* who were overwhelmingly wonderful)

2. Dr. Karg crispbread thingies are exceedingly noisy - both the packaging and the chomping of their extreme crunchiness. On day 2 (I think, its all a bit blurry) my BIL and I went on a snack-finding trip to the local supermarket. It was a cause of some amusement on our return that almost all the things we'd bought were exceedingly noisy and there was much rustling, crackling, crunching, attempts to muffle noise and laughter which didn't seem quite seemly.

3. Laughter was actually quite a feature of those bedside days, with sometimes all 13 of us (me + 2 siblings with spouses, 6 grandchildren, dad) camping out in mum's room, in and out of the corridors, taking over various lounges, chatting, reading newspapers, mucking about.... Hospices are so mercifully unlike hospitals. Mum's eyes didn't open again after the 2nd morning, but she knew we were all there and I know she loved that we could laugh together as well as crying together.

4. Oast houses. Mum was in the Hospice in the Weald - the Weald being South East England, Kent and Sussex. Hop-farming and hop-picking used to be key industries and activities in Kent and the countryside is full of oast houses like these, traditionally used for drying the hops. This was mum's last view.

5. Mosaic puzzles helped keep some of us occupied and distracted during the long hours. "hanjie" and other similar types. Essentially they are (japanese) pictoral logic puzzles - a bit like sudoku but much less boring (imo). My sister and I were already inclined to be a bit addicted to these, but a niece and nephew picked some up and started colluding, with a surprising amount of hilarity.

6. Snooker - the World Championship Final. I grew up with snooker - we had a table in our house so my teenage hanging-out days included larking about with balls and queues. The high ceiling in our victorian house was pockmarked with little round blue holes. And we used to watch Pot Black - Hurrican Higgins and all that. So we watched, on and off... into the night, in mums room, in the lounges ... the clickings of balls and silences and understated commentary providing punctuation and background.

7. Tits. 2 actually observed, not 7 - though we don't know how many babies they are feeding in the little nesting box on the end of dad's shed. So could be 7. Apparently they can hatch up to 14 eggs. 14! blimus, in that little box?
In the days between mum's death and her funeral, we watched the 2 flying in and out constantly, incessantly, backwards and forwards - box to tree for insects, to shed roof for look-out, into the box, back out to the bird feeders.... I got a bit addicted, too, trying to capture their tireless mothering with my little camera. So here as promised are 7 tits.

I'm not tagging anyone but if you feel like it, take "Seven" as your theme.

(or tits, of course....)

Saturday, May 12, 2007


My mum died last Monday, May 7th.

I'm fighting the urge to post just that.

what more can i say?

sharing some of the past year with some of you has been important to me, so it felt right to let you know.

We buried her on Friday in a very very small private family ceremony which was one of the most painful experiences of my life, but also one of the most beautiful.

I expect I'll blog a bit more about this later, but thats all for now.

Friday, May 04, 2007


I was just going to start wittering on about hills and bumps and walking very slowly. But I think I'll just stay away from the metaphors today if I can.

I have a free day at home (well, if I ignore the essays waiting to be marked)
(I think I can) - due to a cancelled appointment, which is a disappointment, but well-timed really - once M goes out I'll have at least a few lovely hours home alone.

Mum came home from the hospice on Weds. It should have been Tuesday but her health has deteriorated quite a bit since she's been there (2 weeks) and the hospice staff really didn't want her to come home at all, they're not convinced they/we will cope. But - she so very much wanted to come home that they agreed on condition that she was brought home in an ambulance the next day, with as much extra support as they can find and give. Mum wanted to go into the hospice, was very happy there at first, and it was a good change for everyone. But though its a wonderful place, she soon began to want to be home again.

She is so delighted to be home, we saw something of her old self in her smile.

It was a very good home-coming.

I've run out of words now, metaphorical or otherwise.