After feeling a little under the weather yesterday I awoke this morning feeling full of energy.
No walks today though as I don’t take walks every day but perhaps three or four times a week. The weather hasn’t improved however, in fact if anything it is worse today than it was yesterday. It is much windier and it appears to have been raining more often through the night. Just letting us know that Autumn is near. This weekend in the UK is another Bank Holiday and many will say that is why the weather is so bad! It isn’t true that whenever there is a Bank Holiday the weather turns nasty but it does quite often. I’m not going anywhere, I am staying at home and keeping out of the weather at least for today. I am still awaiting delivery of one of the three items I ordered last week, one of the bundles of bamboo cane, the larger canes. The projected delivery dates were between the 20 th and 23 rd but today is the 24 th. Hopefully it will be delivered today but I have to remain at home to accept it. It is not yet six-thirty in the morning as I write this but I haven’t been idle. Today I decided to bake a fruit cake, something I haven’t done for quite a few months.
Maybe that is because home baking and the warmer months of the year don’t mix. I suppose we think more about baking and the comfort foods we tend to eat only in the cooler months of the year. That maybe true but I like cake any time of the year though I do confess I eat more of it during Winter. I love the smell of home cooking especially when cakes are being baked. Visiting someone’s house when they have been baking something makes their home more inviting. They say that prospective house buyers can be influenced by the smell of home baking as it reflects in their minds what the house would be like if they lived there, homely. Whether that is true or not is a matter of conjecture but it does encourage a feel good factor. I feel even better having baked my cake this morning anyway.
A couple of months ago I had to pay the doctor a routine visit for a fungal infection on my big toes. Whilst there she advised I have another blood check but as I wasn’t at that time due for such a test she post-dated it. On Friday (27 th) I visited the nurse at the surgery to give a blood sample and as it was for lipid levels I couldn’t eat anything for twelve hours prior to the sample being given. It turned out that I hadn’t eaten for seventeen hours by the time I was at the surgery. Naturally I was feeling quite hungry on my return home. Even so I didn’t eat more than I would normally do at breakfast (break-fast). As the appointment was for eight-fifty the first thing I ate was at breakfast time, though a little belated breakfast time for me. The danger in fasting is the temptation to over-indulge when the fast is over. It sets the trend for more overeating and we end up putting on weight. If we eat too much at a sitting our stomach stretches to accommodate the food so that at the next meal we feel the need to fill it too much once more else we still feel hungry. If our stomach is full we feel satisfied therefore it is sensible to eat small amounts frequently rather than gorging down large quantities which stretch the stomach. Obviously the type of food we eat is important too if we are to feel satisfied. In today’s society, here in the UK at least, we are faced with encouraging signs to eat more instead of eating sensibly. A point in question, I have found that most of the ‘fish and chip’ shops I have visited throughout my life encourage us to eat more by supplying larger portions of chips than we actually want. When I have asked for a smaller portion I find the person serving me has difficulty in doing that. It is as if they have to give large portions to justify the prices they charge. Why not supply smaller portions at a lower price for those who want them? If there is someone with me, like E for instance, we buy one portion and share and even then there is often too much in the portion. Is it any wonder people are becoming overweight when because they receive larger portions they feel the need to eat it all? It would seem a waste otherwise wouldn’t it? Feeling hungry is one thing but feeling a large waist is another!
It’s to not myself I am referring but my next-door neighbour. If my readers will remember I mentioned she had been taken to hospital in an emergency after she had difficulty in breathing. She had been and still does rely on her oxygen bottles else she would die. Her condition has been brought about by smoking and not being able to desist after being repeatedly told by her doctor to stop. She is I think around 81 years of age. After being informed she would be coming home then later told she would have to stay in hospital and later still that she would have to spend the rest of her days in a care home. Finally on Monday last (4 th) she came home late in the afternoon. E and I didn’t pay her a visit until the following day that is after she had settled in. Though she is at home she receives palliative care and is visited daily by care workers and a district nurse who visits less frequently. E and I visited her again today, that is Sunday as I write. She is upbeat about her situation and for someone who is seriously ill she is as lively as ever. Physically she has lost quite a lot of weight though she wasn’t well-built in any case beforehand. Whilst we talked with her she kept losing her breath even though she had her oxygen supply. Any exertion, even slight and she is gasping for air. It is a sad affair but little more can be done for her other than what she receives. She is always happy to see us though and we keep her laughing and in good spirit. Obviously we help in any way we can. She hinted that she would like the tv up on the wall so I told her I would fit a shelf to take it. Buying a special wall bracket, if one could be purchased for that tv would be too expensive and not worth it. I will also help her son to remove the old and faulty built-in fridge/freezer so we can install the replacement unit. Both jobs are simple and shouldn’t take long to do. E and I will continue to keep an eye on her and help as we are able.
With me I am never sure what I want to do on any particular day though when there is a project on the go I usually have a set plan. At the time of writing this there is still work to be done in the cellar but because E is limited in what she can do I have to do the things she would normally do herself and cannot get on with my own work. If I am not shopping I am taking her to her appointments and have to wait to bring her back home. Yesterday afternoon though I decided a meal out was due as we hadn’t dined out for some time. We went to our local pub this time and had a really great time. Today (Wed 16) for instance I had to take her to the hospital in the afternoon and stayed there for over an hour. I had an appointment with the dentist myself in the morning and also spent time on the exercise equipment later. I ended up scratching around trying to get at least some work done in what time I had left. So for a while this is how it is going to be but I will make an effort to get my projects done despite that. Tomorrow morning I have to do the weekly shopping and maybe after lunch I will take a trip to the garden centre to buy some more tree bark chippings and then spread it out in the flowerbeds. I mentioned to E that I would be taking a walk tomorrow morning but then realised I had to do the shopping. Maybe there should be more hours in the day! I did manage to cut the piece of wood that will form the threshold for the cellar storage room and paint it ready for fixing to the floor. I also managed to cut off the excess carpet where the threshold is to be fitted. Yes, there are carpets in three of the cellar rooms but they are only there because new carpets replaced them in the rooms above where they had been and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I suppose I must be grateful that I am able to do anything at my age having seen the plight of many of similar age stuck in hospital or visiting as out-patients. Speaking of hospitals, our next-door neighbour was supposed to be returning home last week then early this week and now as I write they say it will be Friday. Having told her son that she would receive palliative care the doctors changed their minds regarding her condition and cancelled the care last week. Yesterday he was told that her life expectancy was again put below three months and as a result she will get the palliative care at home after all.
All the things I feel I want to get on with I find I am unable to and other things which sometimes or otherwise take second place I find I am doing instead. Work on my little project for the last week or more has been stop and go and at the time of writing this (on the 10 th) it is still in abeyance. To complete the work, which is only to paint the floor and that won’t take long, I need a mask for protection. As my readers will already know I ordered one days ago but have still to receive it. That in itself isn’t a problem but I wish it will come soon so that I can write off the work. Normally I would just get on with other things but even there I find I am prevented from moving on. The reason for that has been due to my taking on other responsibilities, things which E would normally be doing had she not been incapacitated. Today I had to get in the weekly shopping and ferry her to her appointments so there was little time for anything else. I am not complaining about having that responsibility, I am happy to be able to help her even if it does mean I have to put on hold my little jobs. She is making good progress with her back problem and hopes to be back in circulation soon. Her spinal problem is another matter but she has been coping with that as best she can. It is her muscular back pain which is currently the main issue. After lunch today I was able to do a little gardening maintenance and E came out to see what I was doing.
A few days ago I planted some seeds in the greenhouse and wondered if any of them would grow for the seeds were old. I planted flowers, tomatoes and beetroot but at this moment only the beetroot seeds have sprouted, all twenty-six of them! E decided we should pot them on into larger pots and she took charge of that and I became the assistant. The plan is to plant them in one of the flowerbeds between the other plants but only when they are large enough not to be mistaken for weeds! Now E had already planted some melon seeds in several small pots with my assistance and some of them have begun to grow. We are hoping they might produce fruit later in the year and of course they will have to remain in the greenhouse to give them a fighting chance. So although I am not doing much on my projects just now at least I am getting something done and E is benefiting by getting involved with outdoor jobs too.
….and tomorrow a new month. I write this on the last day of April. It is Monday and the start of a week of unknowns. Despite not having any definite plan for the day I was very busy. I had ordered clothing, floor paint and a cordless vacuum cleaner but only one of those was scheduled for delivery that day, the vacuum cleaner. I wanted the paint delivering as soon as possible so that I could finish the cellar storage room project. As I write this I still have no idea when it will arrive. The clothing should be here within the next couple of days. There was a small amount of painting to do around the door on the inside of the store-room which was the first thing I did. Following that I went into the front garden and using a watering can and soluble plant food I fed all the plants, dug out weeds then swept the pathways. It was approaching lunchtime when that was done so I stopped work and went indoors just in time to unpack and assemble the new vacuum cleaner. I am considering purchasing another for use on the upper floors but will see how this one performs first. After lunch I made myself busy by first of all sweeping up the leaves, lots of them, from the paths in the rear garden then mowing the lawn. Next, I got out the hoe and gave the flowerbeds a make-over removing the weeds. It was late afternoon when I had finished and I spent an hour in the sunshine relaxing on the patio. When I returned indoors our next-door neighbour’s son called to update us on his mom’s condition. Late on Sunday afternoon she had been rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. She has advanced emphysema and relies on her oxygen bottles to get through the day. The prognosis wasn’t good and the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Her son was calling to let us know that she had perked-up somewhat and could possibly return home. She is at death’s door and the doctors practically indicated that so even if she can return home she would need palliative care. For the moment she remains in hospital. We invited our neighbour’s son inside for a chat and he stayed awhile. That was basically my day and I was tired after it all.
Over the last week or so I have been working on and off in the cellar storage room as you know but have not in the last couple of days been able to do much. There were a couple of reasons for this but the main reason was that I have been doing things for E who had been stricken with severe back pain and has been unable to fend for herself. At the time of writing (it is Monday afternoon the 23 rd) the doctor has earlier been to see her and I have just returned from the pharmacy with her prescribed medication. She is still struggling with her mobility but seems to be improving. All this means that I have been preparing her meals and drinks and generally assisting her when asked and have had to fit in the decorating as and when I can. This morning after breakfast I put on my overalls to begin work but had to attend to E first so was late starting. At the moment it is all painting but I managed to paint the left-hand wall before I had to stop…
The rear wall (behind the ladder) will need painting again at the bottom because the wall had evidently still been damp when I painted it a couple of days ago. I have since been using a fan heater to warm the room and speed up the drying process. There is still a little more painting to do…
…the raised part of the ceiling above the door area and of course the door itself. Incidentally in the top picture you can see the main water pipe and stop tap shown here in detail…
I point it out to show that the pipe entering from outside (underground) is made of lead and the pipes then on are copper. A couple of years ago the water authority replaced all of the underground pipes in the area using plastic ones as they had been both cast iron and lead. However though they had been able to use plastic pipe to our house they couldn’t get it all the way into the house without causing much upheaval. Above the point of entry a metre below the front doors are our stone steps…..They could only reach a point close to the white stone in the right of the picture so from that position to inside the cellar room it remains a lead pipe. In the picture above and about a third of the way along the pipe from the right there is a lump (showing bright in the picture). It marks the position where it changes to copper. Now why am I telling you this? It is because I did the work myself years ago. With the water turned off in the street I cut back the lead pipe and flared the end by tapping a cone-shaped piece of wood into it so that I could insert the copper pipe a couple of centimetres. I had already prepared the end of the copper pipe by cleaning it and coating the end with solder to make jointing the pipes easier. The difficult part of sealing the connection was in not overheating the copper pipe when building up the joint with solder. The lead pipe melts at a lower temperature than the solder so it had to be done very carefully. Had I not been used to doing this kind of work I doubt I would have attempted it. I am hoping the room will be completed soon for there are other jobs I am keen to start work on.
My plans were almost thwarted on Saturday. It was another warm and sunny day as we enjoyed the slightly unseasonal weather for April with temperatures around six, seven and eight degrees above normal. Although I wanted to spend more time outdoors I knew I had to do at least some more work in the cellar. This little project is certainly taking quite some time to complete. I was up and about around eight o’clock and after breakfast the first thing I did was to water the rear garden as we hadn’t any rain for days. It was especially important that I did it if only for the sake of the newly bedded plants I had put in the day before though all the garden plants needed it too. On returning indoors I continued with the painting and was doing fine until after an hour or so I thought I heard E calling out to me so went to investigate. She was two floors up and kind of stuck on the landing unable to move with muscular pain in her back, something she says happens occasionally. I did my best to assist but there was little I could do but to see that she made it downstairs safely. From that point onward and throughout the day I had to do the fetching and carrying for her and prepare her meals as she often eats different things to me. Once I knew she was settled I returned to my painting but my phone rang soon after I had resumed. It was our next-door neighbour who asked if I could check out a couple of garden lights she had recently purchased but hadn’t worked. I told her I would call as soon as I could and went there around thirty minutes later after completing what I was painting. The lights are solar units which charge during the day and when night falls they illuminate. There are switches on them but no indication of their function, they could either be for preventing the units from charging or from illuminating. I asked for the instruction sheet but she told me she had thrown it out with the garbage! I suggested she return them as faulty. When I returned home I removed my overalls for I knew it wasn’t worth keeping them on, my services to E would be taking preference and my project would have to wait a couple of days. At least E was able to join me out on the patio to relax for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
In yesterday’s post I talked about continuing with the work in the garden and the weather thwarting that possibility. Wednesday (27) was a far better day for working outdoors as it was dry and sunny for the most part though I have to add much colder than it had been in the previous week. I didn’t get out of bed especially early as I might have done another time but I was downstairs exercising on the gym equipment by nine o’clock even so. After a brief cooling off outside I returned upstairs for breakfast before taking a shower and getting dressed for the day. Over the last couple of days our youngest son has been staying here and his car is left parked on the driveway in front of the house when he is here. The vehicle is supplied by the company he works for and he normally gets it cleaned in a car wash station. His employer pays for that but I suppose only once a month. It stood there looking as if it had been in a coal mine for weeks but as he said, driving up and down the motorways in the rain keeps it looking that way! I put on my overalls and with a bucket of warm water, liquid soap and the nylon bristled sweeping brush I keep in my van for cleaning the van I set about cleaning the car. It didn’t take long and at least it would look much better for a while…
Having done my good deed for the day I returned to the rear garden and set about fixing the stones in the rear edge of the small bed that is now occupied by the new fan palm…
I mixed some fine concrete to fill in the gaps and used what was left to fill holes elsewhere around the garden and one of the surface water grids. When I returned into the house through the cellar door my son was using the elliptical trainer and then the bench press to do some weight lifting. He, just like his brother, are certainly a healthy and muscular pair of guys. They each have membership in their preferred gymnasium but obviously take advantage of the equipment we have at home when they visit. It is good to see they are looking after themselves by keeping fit. I wonder where they get that from?
At this time of year I was always busy working but this year all that has changed. Since my retirement back in April I have not done any electrical work to speak of, just a couple of very minor jobs and some of them were at home anyway. From around September until the week preceding Christmas I was kept busy doing electrical work with little time for myself. I was used to the pressure but then again I worked better under pressure, still do. However over the last few weeks I have had very little work to do, certainly no contract work and what I have been doing at home wasn’t that taxing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am glad the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and that now I can please myself what I do and when I do it. It is simply that it feels a little strange having all this freedom. I have been occupying myself outside of any domestic jobs I do by taking walks and exercising more on what equipment we have accumulated over the last few years. I am currently getting to grips with the new elliptical trainer we purchased a week or so back. Having not used one before it certainly felt strange when making the first attempt! I am more used to the treadmill, that is my muscles are more used to it.
With the elliptical trainer however those muscles are exercised in a different way and other muscles not exercised much when running or even walking have to adjust too. I wake up in the mornings with a kind of joy in my heart knowing I haven’t any reason to rush into the day so in a way that too feels strange, though I am getting used to it. To be honest I rarely lie in bed for long once I am awake and half the time I have something in mind I want to do anyway. I never thought of it before but having one’s remaining years free to one’s self is often not appreciated until the time it arrives. I’ll try to make the most of them.