Now that I feel like doing some work I find a reluctance to do so. The warm weather and various appointments haven’t helped either. So once again the small project gets shelved. Early on Friday morning E and I took a member of the family the twenty miles to the next town so he could conduct some business. He was incapacitated and was unable to drive himself. It was almost 1.45 by the time we returned home for lunch. At 3.45 E had an appointment at the hospital to have an X-ray picture taken of her knees on the advice of her doctor. Her left knee had been causing her problems for quite some time and it was painful for her whenever she knelt down. Her right knee had banged against a stair rail a few days ago when she tripped whilst climbing the last couple of steps leading to the top room we are redecorating, that is when we get around to it again! The fall was her own fault and not switching on the lights didn’t help. She asked if I could drive her to the hospital though she was able to do so herself. She did say that her back was aching and she needed to relax. That problem was probably caused by her bending down on her knees and digging out the weeds in the flowerbed. She uses a proper kneeling stool but I don’t think she realises that kneeling down and stretching to dig out weeds isn’t doing her back or indeed her knees any favours. She ought to use a hoe instead but she insists on doing it her way. So what with her aches, pains and injuries and the problems I have had this past week is it any wonder the redecorating has slowed down to a crawl? Now that the weather is turning warmer and sunnier it is going to be difficult to discipline ourselves and get the room finished. I still have to find the time to do other necessary jobs at home too. Did I say we are looking forward to some rainy days?
Over the past few weeks the requests for my electrical services has dwindled somewhat which I suppose is a blessing in disguise. I have received requests though and have done the work but far less of it. This past week hasn’t been any different. Gradually I am becoming accustomed to doing less work for others and less work at home but I’ve got to do something. On Thursday morning I had a job to do locally and in the afternoon I couldn’t take on more work anyway as I had an appointment at the doctor’s surgery. I had been to see the doctor on Monday because I had a urinary tract infection but this time it was for a routine check-up with the nurse (sister). She wanted to review my ‘hrt’ situation. I knew what she was going to say before she spoke. She was going to suggest I reduce the level or take no more. She hadn’t realised that I am transgendered though the information was readily available at her fingertips. Had she checked she wouldn’t have mentioned it. Basically I have to take the hormones (hormone replacement or hrt) until I die, so there is no question regarding whether I should stop. I mentioned to her that back in October a doctor hadn’t checked either and had suggested I stop taking the medication until I told her why I was taking it in the first place. I am now wondering if at my next visit I will be asked the same question again. What can I say? She did however suggest that I be given a six month supply rather than the one month supply the last doctor had changed it to. Previously I received a three-month supply. Common sense has prevailed though I’ll have to wait and see if it will really happen! She measured my blood pressure a couple of times whilst I was there as they all do and nothing had changed, nothing to be concerned about all was in satisfactory order.
E went out shopping as usual on a Thursday afternoon. She buys in the week’s groceries and takes her mom along to do her shopping too. Earlier in the day and after I had returned home I did a little preparatory work up in the top room, not much but enough to allow the work to continue. Little has been done up there this past week for one reason or another but gradually we’ll get it finished.
It wasn’t a warm day on Wednesday, cloudy throughout though remaining dry through the daylight hours. It was a day for staying indoors and getting some work done on our mini-project, redecorating the top room. However, that did not happen because I wanted to go shopping for a ‘stick’. A stick? A USB flash drive which many will know as a memory stick perhaps.
I needed to back up the data on my computers and until recently my old 4GB stick held enough storage space to accommodate a back-up but only on my Windows 7 machine. It wouldn’t have enough free space to back-up my Windows 10 machine or even enough space if it was empty. I had attempted to back-up the Windows 7 machine but it failed through a lack of space. So I decided to go and purchase a larger capacity stick. I had kept promising myself I would get a stick with a higher capacity for over two years but never seemed to get around to doing it! Some weeks ago I had mentioned to E that I intended to purchase a replacement garden clock. The old one had ceased to work earlier in the year. Having a clock out in the garden is very handy when out there for any length of time perhaps doing some garden maintenance. We chose to position the old one on the back wall of the patio where it could be seen from almost anywhere in the garden. The new one would go in the same position. E was going to tag along of course but didn’t get dressed until very late in the morning. We finally left the house around 11.45 . First stopping to post her mail then we drove out-of-town to a garden centre about five miles north. A clock could be purchased there. Although there is a garden centre nearer to home E wanted to go to this one to take advantage of a free coffee and a discount on goods purchased. I just went with the flow. Soon we were driving back toward town and to the store where I could purchase a memory stick. I bought one with 128GB memory, more than enough for backing up both computers. Off we went again but into the town centre. E wanted to pay off her store credit card balance and I decided to purchase a couple of black knee-length skirts whilst in the store. By now it was approaching three o’clock and we went home for a late lunch.
I didn’t have to do any work in the top room and as the weather was so warm and sunny on Tuesday I didn’t. Well that was until three o’clock. I was feeling much better on the day, my aches and pains in my back had gone and the urinary infection was well under control. The sun shone almost all day long and both E and myself spent most of the day in the garden especially relaxing on the patio on the new furniture. We ate indoors however and returned outside afterward. E wanted to do some weeding out in the flowerbeds and she started doing that after lunch when for an hour or so the sky went dark as the clouds drifted by. I went indoors for something and the urge to go upstairs and do a little work got the better of me and I set about doing some minor repairs to the door frame (casing) and on the door itself. I began removing the lock because it wasn’t operating properly but it took me over half an hour to get it out of the door. The first problem was to remove the strike plate. On modern locks this is usually not very thick but this lock was an old one and the plate was about 4mm thick. Over the years the fixing screws had been filled-in and painted over and were difficult to locate. After I had removed the door knobs (they were actually knobs and not handles as shown in the diagram) I was able to remove the spindle allowing the lock to slide out of the door. It was so tight it wouldn’t budge but it wasn’t simply stuck with age, it had been filled-in with some wood filler. The lock was similar to the one shown but longer, that is it went deeper into the door. It had both the latch bolt and dead bolt fitted and the dead bolt had originally been operated with a key. The dead lock hadn’t been used for years, long before we moved in, and the keyholes had been filled with wood filler which had found its way into the lock itself through the keyholes. It effectively prevented the lock’s easy removal. I eventually dug out the filler and slowly withdrew the lock. I will be fitting a new one that is only fitted with a latch bolt as a dead bolt isn’t required. After I had done that work I carried out the repair to the casing by inserting a block of wood where the fitting of an old Yale lock above the other door lock had left a gap in the frame when I removed it months ago. Again, I had to fill-in the gaps with wood filler ready for sanding down and painting later. That all took an hour and a half and my need to do something in the room no matter how small had been satisfied. Sometimes these little tasks can hold the other work back. Now we can carry on with the decorating when the urge presents itself! Both E and I are reluctant to work indoors whilst the sun is shining. E had stayed outside removing weeds and had done quite a lot while I had been inside.
It’s not like me to avoid work but I have been so tired lately and at the time of writing this on Monday late afternoon I haven’t done any further work in the top room since Thursday. I had expected to do more on Monday but when Monday came I found I couldn’t. I’d been suffering with UTI (Urinary Tract Infection or Cystitis) since late on Saturday and had to pay a visit to the doctor on Monday morning and I had strained the muscles in my abdomen too. We had been expecting the delivery of our new garden furniture on Monday morning and it arrived whilst I was out. I didn’t return home until 9.30 and then E and I set about unpacking and assembling it. It took us two hours, almost until lunchtime. In these two pictures the parasol is not shown though if you look under the glass top of the table you might be able to see it stored away there. The set includes six reclining chairs, two footstools, a small table (in the lower picture) and of course the table and parasol.
I suggested we dine out for a change so that’s what we did. We drove to one of our preferred dining places some fifteen miles away arriving there at 2 o’clock so it was late in the afternoon by the time we got back home. E had beef steak, I chose sea bass. I should have chosen the beef for a change. The fish was as nice as ever but I didn’t like the risotto it was laid upon so much though I ate it anyway. I usually choose a fish dish these days and choose meat very infrequently. We each decided we would eat a dessert and we each selected a ‘Eton Mess’ but with different flavourings. It makes a change being waited upon and not having to wash the dishes afterward. Just as we neared the end of our meal a group of elderly people were leaving the restaurant and one of them came over to our table having thought to herself ‘I know that lady’. As she approached she asked if I remembered her. I told her that I remembered her face but couldn’t place where we had met. It turned out that I had done an electrical job in her house on exactly the same day last year (23 May 15). Now that was an amazing coincidence I thought.
E hasn’t been feeling too well either these past few days so she didn’t want to do any work at home. To be honest most of what needs to be done is all painting and it can be done in a few hours. We are not in too much of a hurry to finish the room but we won’t leave it long before we get stuck in again. By the time you are reading this we might already be working again. Sometimes you just have to stop for a while but I can’t stay lazy too long, it just isn’t me.
Misfortunes never come singly as the proverb tell us. Another would say that they come in threes. I am inclined to believe that somehow. Over the last few days I have been suffering with muscular abdominal pain. On Sunday, after a couple of days, the pain subsided. In the morning E began to pull out bluebell stalks in the garden so that their seed pods would not fall to the ground and germinate next year and because there were so many of them I lended a hand. Soon afterward the pain returned and stayed with me for the remainder of the day. During the day I began to feel the need to visit the toilet more frequently until it was every ten minutes! Obviously I had a urinary infection.
I have had this complaint about four times in my adult life and it isn’t nice. Strange at it may seem I usually get the symptoms over the weekend when the surgery is closed! I resigned myself to suffering until the morning when I could see the doctor and get some antibiotics but E remembered she had a day’s supply of an antibiotic for this specific type of infection. She hadn’t taken the full course when she had the same problem a couple of years ago. Hopefully they would still be usable so I took one. My symptoms started to subside. Now I know we should not take medications prescribed for others but I had checked out the description of the drug and its uses on the Internet beforehand. Well I suppose you are wondering what the third misfortune was. Fortunately that one passed me by but I am on the alert just in case. E and I were expecting the delivery of our new garden furniture in Monday morning. We had waited almost two weeks since we purchased it. Now the weather is improving we might get the chance to use it.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the next time I would do any further work on our top room project would be Saturday. I had been working at an electrical job on Friday morning and in the afternoon I really didn’t feel like doing any more work of any kind anyway. I was feeling a little ‘out of sorts’ as they say and that niggling pain in my lumbar region didn’t help. I dragged myself upstairs to bed earlier than usual and it wasn’t too long before I was asleep. I woke up several times during the night though only to visit the toilet. I finally got out of bed around ten o’clock and felt reasonably better though the pain hadn’t gone from my back. That was enough to force me into submission and forget any ideas of work and I didn’t much feel like it anyway. I had missed breakfast and by noon was quite hungry so I prepared an early lunch. E was going out to her group’s monthly get-together in the afternoon and joined me at the table when I was almost finished with my meal. By the time she had left the house at one o’clock the weather had brightened somewhat and the sun was shining. I decided to sit out on the patio with a book for a time and then decided to dig out one of the recliners stored in the garage and hose it down before taking it onto the patio where I lay for a time on it. I could feel the warming sun’s rays on my aching back and slowly my pain was eased. Eventually though the clouds drifted in again and I returned indoors.
Saturday was the date set for the Football Association annual Cup Final game and this year featured Manchester United and Crystal Palace competing for the trophy. They met in 1990 competing for the same trophy. That time Manchester United won. I would be watching it on tv. as I usually do each year irrespective of which teams are playing. I could relax for a couple of hours and enjoy the match.
From about Wednesday evening I have been suffering with a muscular back pain in the lower Lumbar region or more precisely the buttocks. At worse it makes standing from a sitting position awkward and a little painful and at best doesn’t really affect activity. It is more a nuisance than anything else but I know that if I don’t rest the muscles it will only prolong the agony so I have been doing my best to do just that. At the same time I have been doing some work on our current project though I don’t consider painting to be strenuous. Nevertheless I have been taking it easy. I had an electrical job to do on Friday morning which entailed checking a reported fault on a power outlet which turned out to be a faulty grinding machine plugged into the circuit. I had to then rewire a couple of lighting switches that had been reconnected incorrectly by the owner of the house after he had removed them during redecoration. None of the work was strenuous and in fact I remained in a standing position whilst I corrected it. One thing I did find wrong was the wiring and installation itself which had been last rewired back in 1938! The place wanted a complete rewire. Wooden fixing boxes for the light switches are a potential fire risk and that is what I found behind the switches. I could only make it as safe as was possible but at least the switching now works properly. After I had done the electrical work the guy got out his electric guitar and amplifier to check the power outlet was still working. He and I and his wife had been enjoying a little bit of banter whilst I was doing the work and during the conversation I learned that he had dabbled at playing the guitar back in the 1960’s and had been in a couple of local bands. He admitted that they weren’t that good and could only play a few songs. He gave up playing after a short time and had only recently taken up playing again. He is three years younger than myself and would have been in his late teens in the mid-sixties. I mentioned that I play an acoustic guitar and he invited me to try his electric one. This is my acoustic Fender guitar….I played a few songs and then asked if I could hear him play. He was reluctant as he didn’t think he could play well. Nevertheless he did play something and he wasn’t as bad as he said he was. I asked jokingly if his wife played the drums so that we could jam together! Alas she didn’t but she was the type of person who would give it a go! I drove home but I had no intentions doing any work at home for the rest of the day, I wanted a rest. I wanted not only a rest to ease my aches and pains and allow my muscles to recuperate but I wanted a rest from work. I have been doing a lot of that lately and there is still more in the pipeline to do. Anyway the remainder of Friday just seemed to have passed without notice and I looked back and wondered where the time had gone. One nice highlight of the day was receiving a telephone call from my friend in the US, G, who calls me quite often for a chat. Mind you, she does most of the talking. She was bringing me up to date on events in her life, her recent move to an apartment with her boyfriend and well, girly things. I love G.
The top room project was always going to be quicker to accomplish as for one the room is relatively small compared to the other rooms we have refurbished. Even so it measures 5 by 3.5 metres at floor level and although the ceiling slopes it is high. At its lowest point where it meets the wall it is still more than 2 metres from the floor and even if the fitted furniture (worktops) were not there it would be difficult to hit it with your head. As small rooms go therefore it is quite large. Its twin room backs onto it (to the right in the first picture). Apart from removing the shelving that was beneath the worktop most of the work would simply be decorating. The door and a small part of the frame require minor repairs and the door lock requires attention, either servicing it or replacing it depending on what I find when I remove it. It is a little stiff to operate at the moment. The door handles need replacing and the curtain pole re-fixing too. I may replace the existing fluorescent light with an LED version later. We are undecided yet as to what colour carpet to lay and this time we will need to purchase carpet underlay too. The other rooms had good quality and undamaged underlay so we only had to replace the carpets but this room had been fitted (by the previous owner of the house) with a cheap carpet/underlay combination which perished. Well it had been on the floor for at least thirty years. Plenty of time to buy a new carpet yet. I worked in the room alone on Thursday as E hadn’t felt up to it but I only spent three hours in there.
I applied a top coat of gloss paint to all the wood surfaces apart from the door and left it to dry. That would take 24 hours. However, gloss paint takes a few days to dry to a hard finish depending on the conditions. It would probably be Saturday before you would find me working in the room again as I had electrical work to do on Friday.
The advantages of having a house with 53 steps in it means I get plenty of exercise. The disadvantages include the extra time it takes to do any work at the top of the house! I reckon I am reasonably fit for my age (70+) but climbing those stairs a few times leaves me exhausted. For example, if I begin working on our current project too soon after breakfast and climb those stair steps (40 from the breakfast room) I am a little out of breath. After a while though descending and climbing them isn’t so bad but it is still tiring if I have to do it two, three or more times, which is often the case. Again the same thing happens after I have eaten my lunch. Obviously, well to me anyway, my body is being starved of oxygen whilst my food is being digested so exercise becomes more difficult. At the other end of the scale tiredness sets in through lack of sustenance and my age. Doing any work at the top of the house is always going to take longer because of these factors. Still I plod on. E will be finding it even more difficult I know as she suffers with her condition (spina biffida) which, though not severe, nevertheless impedes her movement somewhat. More recently she has been suffering with a problem around one of her knees and even as I write she is booking an appointment to have it X-rayed. Despite her afflictions she works quite hard and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop. I have to insist she stops before she will do so herself. So things take longer when we get older and we need to be more careful that we don’t rush. There isn’t a need to rush anyway but there is the need to keep active else seize-up! Progress has been good on the project, the walls and ceiling are fully painted and the woodwork that needed to have an undercoat, that is most of it, has been painted. E painted a large section of skirting but somehow managed to twist her back in the process. It took her quite a few minutes to manoeuvre herself into a position whereby she could get up off the floor. I could do little to help (she’s very independent). I had to suggest that I do the low-level painting in future for there is plenty of painting that has to be done at waist height which will be more comfortable for her if she insists on painting something. To be fair she doesn’t usually have problems but it proves just how susceptible we can be if we don’t take care.
….and up and down. Nothing doing on the electrical front on Tuesday saw me working again at home on our latest little project at the top of the house. I had decided to begin painting the walls with the emulsion paint. E had an appointment at the doctor’s surgery late morning so she didn’t bother to do any work before then. I began by painting over the patch we had mended on the ceiling that had required more work doing on it before the top coat of paint could be applied. Leaving that to dry I started work on painting the lower parts of the walls beneath the worktops before I got a call from a guy asking me to change a light fitting in his house some fifteen miles away. Down with the paint brush, off with the overalls and off to the job. E had just left the house and it was eleven o’clock. I was back home twenty minutes after twelve with extra cash in my purse. It was too near lunch time to resume painting so I ate lunch. Whilst I was preparing it E arrived back home but she wasn’t alone, her mom was with her. She had invited her to see the work we had done in the two bedrooms (not the room we are currently redecorating). I was taken by surprise for it has been almost fourteen years since I last saw her. Since my transition I have not been invited to any family gatherings at her house or anywhere else for that matter. I do not know who is responsible for that but I don’t blame anyone. We said little to each other but she seemed quite amiable and I was as polite as ever. She didn’t stay long and E took her home. Her mom is in poor health and she has aged a lot since we last met. She is 88 years of age after all. E didn’t return home until long after I had eaten and had returned upstairs to continue with the painting.
After she had eaten she joined me. She began applying an undercoat of paint to the worktop surfaces. I managed to do almost all of the walls before emptying the paint pot. It was by now after five o’clock and it wasn’t worth opening another. I didn’t think I would like the colour lilac but it does make the room look brighter and fresher.
After my Sunday rest day I thought I would be rearing to start work on Monday but I had slept in as I had felt so tired on Sunday evening. It was around ten in the morning by the time I got downstairs. I missed breakfast but ate a banana and had a fruit drink instead. Despite this I joined with E and went upstairs to do some more work in the top room. I hadn’t any electrical work which seems to be the norm lately for the start of the week but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be doing something at home. We spent about three and a half hours painting and carrying out alterations to the electrical power circuit. I managed to paint the lower half of the ceiling whilst E did more filling in of holes. We had to stop for something to eat but by the time we did it was already approaching one-thirty. I was feeling rather weak as I’d only eaten a banana for my late breakfast. We didn’t return upstairs until after three o’clock. I finished painting the remainder of the ceiling whilst E applied an undercoat to the underside of half the worktop. We had to remove the curtain rod and the timber it was attached to because it wasn’t secure. The wall behind required some repairs to the plaster so I got on with that too. It was six o’clock before we stopped work for the day but later after my evening meal I decided to paint some of the lower wall with the emulsion paint we had bought. It is the colour of lilac, E’s choice not mine but I admit it looks good. Monday had been a cool and dull day, ideal for working at home indoors. Tuesday however was forecast to be warm and sunny but even so I would most probably be working indoors for most of the time.
It was a lovely sunny day on Sunday, a day when its name lived up to it but sadly it was windy too and it took the edge off it. For a time I sat out on the patio but the frequent little bursts of wind made it too uncomfortable. It wasn’t particularly warm though that didn’t matter to me but the wind was cool. Had the wind been warm all would have been fine. It is the middle of May and the temperature for the time of year has returned to what is normal, somewhat different to the previous few days when it was hot and humid. According to the well-known saying we are not supposed to be casting off warmer clothing until May has ended (Never Cast A Clout Until May Is Out). Because it has been warm of late we might be thinking that Summer is here but it isn’t and even the early Summer can still be cool. There are many countries in the world where the weather can be predicted with almost certainty but here in the UK and totally because of our location the weather can be and is so unpredictable at times. I am not talking about the weather forecast but the fact that we cannot always say with some certainty that it will be warm, cold, wet or windy for any length of time. We cannot say that it will remain hot and dry for the next couple of months as it can be said in other parts of the world. People moan about the weather but the weather is something we can never have control over so moaning is pointless but it can be a pain when we expect some sunshine and it rains instead. I feel sorry for those who holiday here for a couple of weeks in Summer and the weather turns out wet and cold and when they return home the weather here changes dramatically for the better. If holidaying in the UK bring an umbrella and some warm clothing even if it is the height of Summer! I suppose we can say that the only guarantee we have regarding the weather is that we have no guarantee! It didn’t spoil my day, I wore suitable clothing.
Well in the top room to be precise. I have had some free time at home lately and it has enabled me, with the help of E, to get on with the top room refurbishment. On Friday we were able to strip the room of its carpet and generally tidy up after which I made inroads into altering the worktops and shelving. On Saturday morning We took the opportunity to do more work in there but only until lunchtime at around 1.30. I removed some under the worktop shelving and some support struts for the main worktop then strengthening it to allow only one support to be used instead. This support was by way of a panel rather than a post which made everything even more sturdier. You can see the panel beneath the long section of worktop in this picture. The mark on the wall beneath the worktop centre of picture is where the removed shelving was fitted. It all doesn’t sound much but it is all sawing, shaping and screwing timber and it takes its toll especially when the timber has to be cut down in the cellar and the work is at the top of the house, three levels higher! They say living in a house with stairs is far healthier for the heart but we have the equivalent of about four flights of stairs from the cellar to reach the top of the house. There are actually 53 steps and the average number of steps on a staircase in a two-storey house is 13! I have lost count on the number of times I have had to make that 53 step journey lately and of course I had been carrying weighty items with me too. No wonder I get so tired at times. E has been filling in all the holes and gaps in the wood work ready for it to be painted later and lending me a hand when it was needed. Basically all the construction alterations are now complete and soon we will be ready to begin the actual task of decorating the room, starting with the sloping ceiling.
Here is another picture showing the remainder of the worktop near the window where I fitted a side panel also on Saturday… Also in the pictures you can just about see the two electrical boxes beneath the worktop. One (third picture on the right hand side) contains terminals connected to some of the ceiling lights in many of the rooms in the house and the other (first picture in the centre) alongside that box contains an interface unit designed and constructed by myself which when connected to a computer will allow the computer to switch on those lights. It is not in use at the moment as it needs modifying to allow a USB connection. There are also a number of power outlets located beneath the long worktop out of sight and were there to power computers, printers and scanners many years ago. There are holes in the worktop surface to allow cables to pass below it and out of sight whilst keeping the worktop free of cables. E will use the same method for connecting the machinery she intends using in the room. The third picture also shows a vent beneath the short worktop. A fireplace once graced the room in that position as the vent is in the chimney stack and the floor in front of it has a stone base set into it. We figure there had been possibly fifteen fireplaces in the house when it was built in 1887 with four chimney stacks serving them judging by the remnants left throughout the house. Coal must have been very cheap to buy else they were that rich it didn’t matter!
We will be painting all the timber in white. As you can see from the pictures there exists a mish-mash of worktop surfaces which was the result of adding sections over a couple of years when materials became available. We were obviously not that fussy about what it all looked like and just concentrated on getting something fitted for immediate use. I hasten to add that this was the only room treated that way!