Thursday, 22 December 2011

It's on its way. Yipee.

Well yesterday was the shortest day so that means Summer is on its way. Yipee. But before I get carried away, I think I had better check how Christmas is doing.

Cards made and posted - check.

Presents all wrapped - check.

Food in cupboard and fridge - well apart from Christmas lunch, we're collecting the meat tomorrow, check.

Food for Christmas Eve - check. This year we are having an Italian Extravaganza. Homemade pizza, lasagna and tiramisu for dessert, and anyone who has ever tried my pizza knows that it will be a meal fit for a king. Now that my eldest two have left home, Christmas Eve is the only chance we get to sit down as a family.

Christmas cake made and iced - check.

So yes, it all seems to be under control this year. It's hard to believe last year was so very different.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Tale of two cities, a fairy tale.

Home-made Christmas continues. Daughter number 3 claims she has never, ever glittered and that I am a bad mother for not allowing her to cover my carpets with shiny stuff. So this year she made up for it by glittering all her friend's cards, especially her best male friend's (who is more Gok than, well Gok).

What hasn't gone well is the idea of homemade food presents. Daughter number 1 has a gall bladder problem and is on a restricted diet, Paula as we know is in hospital and sending cookies to Roo and FL given FL's sore mouth might be a tad cruel. I am currently trying to devise a Plan B.

Plan B may include elements of my latest fad, up-cycling or as some might say, good old-fashioned make do and mend. Once upon a time this princess went to parties and the occasional university ball. I had a gorgeous purple silk dress, which I was keeping for a special occasion. My choice of storage was not the best though. The plastic sealed crate kept out the moths and dust, but not the sunlight and my beautiful silk dress became sun bleached. I was going to throw it in the bin until I realised I could unpick the seams and use the silk panels "inside out".
Sun bleached patch. Photo doesn't capture the true colour purple!
I used two of the unpicked panels to line a basket which I bought from the local charity shop for £1.99!

I then filled the basket with wonderful goodies. Single Christmas puddings, jams, fruit teas, cakes, scones and pots of custard.

The basket was then taken, Little Red Riding Hood style off to a poorly patient.

The poorly patient was of course Paula in Liverpool and we did meet a wolf (of sorts) on the way too. As we arrived at Lime Street we spotted several policemen and one of them had a sniffer dog. "Crikey" I said to Mike, "what will he think of our basket of food? Maybe we'll get stopped." Before we reached the dog however, the "wolf" decided that a young gentleman, with his jeans hanging below his boxer shorts, was a far better meal. The "wolf" quickly wrapped the lead he was wearing around the young gentleman's legs and as we passed the officer was explaining to the gentleman what exactly it was that the "wolf" could smell!

We found Paula sitting up on the bed with several VERY large balls of yarn, busily knitting a horse blanket, well she said that was what her Auntie Anne had called it. She seemed in extremely good spirits and was hoping, everything crossed to be home for Christmas, with just the three weekly trips for dialysis. Luckily she didn't turn into the big bad wolf, although it was a possibility when B turned up with her requested sponge. When she opened the bag what should she find but a "body buffer" you know, those weird plastic net things that claim to exfoliate your skin.

My favourite moment though was while Mike was talking to Paula about getting curtains dry-cleaned. The little old lady across the ward was being visited by her husband. Enid was telling him she had had a shower that morning and then asked him "Have you had a shower today, only you smell of poo!" How do you laugh hysterically without drawing attention to yourself? Luckily Enid was very deaf!

After four hours of boring Paula and much later B. we decided around five o'clock that we should head off and find something to eat before getting the train home. We ended up having steak and chips in a Weatherspoons pub, before starting to walk back to the station. All would have been well, had we not spotted McHales, an Irish American bar we had first frequented during New Year 2005/6. A couple of pints later and we were dancing with the rest of the regulars. It seems that lots might have changed in the last 6 years, but the welcome in that bar isn't one of them. 

Only problem was we missed the train we were planning to catch and nearly missed the one after that!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Dough or should that be doh?

Mike: I'm going to feel like a fruit pastille later.
Lorna: How come?
Mike: Cos I'll be in a tube.


Yes today is the day Mike gets a MRI of his spine. Rather him than me! Breathe Lorna, breathe.

Does anyone else have those moments when they go to a cupboard, drawer, box, (insert own container at will) to get an item they KNOW they have got only to discover they must have dreamt it at some point? Well I had one of those moments yesterday. As I mentioned I was testing the recipe for some Christmas biscuits, which were supposed to look like this:

I was 100% sure I had a star shaped cutter. Definitely got one, well definitely not. I should point out now that even if I had found my star cutter, they would not have been iced quite so perfectly! In the end I just used a good old round one.

I'm glad I test drove the recipe as it called for the biscuits to be egg washed, which personally I think looks awful. Daughter number 3 and I tried drizzling chocolate over them in an attempt to make the plain ones more interesting, the taste is like a poor shortbread. I also adapted the last bit of dough by adding almond essence (you probably guessed that from the flaked almonds!)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Back on track

Well after Tuesday's rather sobering post I thought I'd better get back on track and tell you all about my Christmas preparations. The card making is going well. I very quickly used up the eight cards I had bought from Lidl and had to move on to some much smaller ones, finances were such we could only afford small ones. I was going to show them to you, but I made a bit of a boo-boo by forgetting to take photos of most of the small cards before I sealed the envelopes, whoops. You'll just have to take my word for the fact they were fantastic!

One of the larger cards for "Special People"

I am still aiming for a certain degree of homemade Christmas but yesterday I realised that maybe a recycled Christmas might almost be as good. Now I know that for some people second-hand is "dirty" but if that were the case, why would anyone buy antiques? Why would you join a library? OK you get my drift. So yesterday we toured the charity shops. I have to say it was a very productive afternoon.

Well I'm off to test run the Christmas cookies, got to make sure they work and taste OK. I'll post photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What a difference a day makes.

Today's contribution has very little to do with Mike and his Myeloma, other than to say that this time last year Mike was due to start his SCT holiday, but had been told there wasn't a bed and call back tomorrow. We called back tomorrow fourteen times in all, they didn't expect us to call weekends. No today it is all about me and a remark I put on facebook late Sunday evening. I quote:
"I had such fantastic plans when I was a naive thirteen year old. Thirty-five years later I am just sad I achieved nothing. Too late now."
That little remark caused a deluge of comments, which I appreciated, but I realised that there was no way I could explain the remark on facebook directly, there just isn't the space! So in the words of a singing nun "Let's start at the very beginning....."

When I was born in 1963, my parents were living with my maternal grandparents in what I recall was a lovely house opposite a field (Highfields School took the field over from what I can tell on Goggle maps.) I recall riding on the back of a neighbour's dog in the field and picking buttercups and daisies. By the time I was two and a half, I had been joined by two younger sisters who were only eleven months apart and my father had gone, leaving us for an older woman who didn't have children. More on that later*. In May 1966 my parents divorced and soon after the council offered my mother a 3 bedroomed flat in Blakenhall Gardens, those who know Wolverhampton, will know what became of them later.

The flats were brand new, with underfloor heating, a play area just outside and a fantastic launderette that we were given a weekly slot for. My dear nan and granddad decided to give up their lovely house and move into the flat next door, so that my mom would have help. In 1966 people still didn't get divorced and the stigma was immense. No charity for single mums back then.

Of course a third floor flat is not the best place for three young children and inevitably there were complaints from those living below and those living above about the noise and so in 1969 my mom was offered a house just a short walk away from the flats, which she took. It had a garden and three bedrooms, but the bathroom (and I mean a room with a bath) was off the kitchen downstairs and the toilet was outside. As a six year old it made no real difference to me. I just got on with life, as children do and it wasn't until I was older, maybe 10, that I realised things weren't quite right. My mom would never let me have friends round. No birthday parties for us. My sisters were like twins, so close in age they naturally bonded themselves together leaving me to play alone. I was late learning to read, but once I had mastered the art, I spent hours losing myself in the pages of a fantasy. I realise now that the reason we were not allowed friends was two-fold, my mom didn't have the money to feed another mouth and she was ashamed of the house. Things of course could only get worse.

In September 1974 it was off to "big" school. I had been decided by my teachers, my mom, my grandparents and because of their pressure, me, that I would be going to the grammar school, Wolverhampton Girls' High School. What a culture shock. I had attended a primary school where there were other children just as poor, a fair share of mixed race (even then),  Asian children who had to attend parents' evenings to translate for their parents and the more affluent children who's dads were doctors and lived on Goldthorn Hill. At WGHS there appeared to be no poor girls. No English as a second language (makes me giggle to think how they would have been dealt with). Minority group? I felt like I was it. The only way I could possible cope with the weight of it all was to lie. I am so ashamed to admit it, but that was what I did. I lied about my horse and my riding lessons. About an uncle who had a farm. I was caught lying and lost friendships but it didn't stop me I felt I had no choice. How could I tell the posh young ladies (we were all young ladies now) that I had to go outside to the loo and use a potty in winter as the toilet would freeze solid overnight, waiting for someone to pour a kettle of boiling water down it so the potties could be emptied. I dreamt of a much better life, but I was so naive. I heard on the news that miners got paid a fortune and so I jokingly told someone I was going to be a miner and get rich. I never lived it down. I wanted to be an astronaut or "Quincy" but I just wasn't bright enough. Time passed and things of course got worse.

By the time I started my periods on my 14th birthday the inevitable teenage hormones had started to cause the B.O. that so many adolescents suffer from. The weekly bath and only one set of school clothes meant keeping my uniform fresh was a real issue. My mom couldn't afford to heat the water for another bath during the week and so it was wash in the kitchen sink or nothing. But what pubescent girls wants to wash in the kitchen being watched by two younger, cruel, teasing sisters? How could I wash my clothes when I got back from school at half four in the evening and have them dry by 6:30 in the morning? So I did the best I could, but it wasn't really good enough, and so I became Pepe Le Pew.

In 1978 I did meet a boy at a youth club. Unfortunately I cannot remember his name. I wish I could, I would apologise to him if I could. You see this lad was black and the second my mom saw he had walked me home I was given a good slap and told if I ever saw him again she would throw me out. I never went back to the youth club, I wish I had, if only to explain it wasn't me. The trauma of that experience made me go to the hairdressers and have my hair cut like Servalan from Blake's Seven. Bearing in mind my hair was in pigtails up until this point, it was a very brave or stupid thing to do!

Servalan at her best.

We eventually moved out of that house in 1980 when the council finally decided to modernise it. I'm sure we were the last people in Wolverhampton to have an outside loo, but I can't prove it. Sixth form was therefore a much better experience, yet I still left school feeling inferior. I tried desperately to join the Civil Service, to no avail. I thought about the RAF, but the teacher in charge of careers said I wouldn't like it and I listened to her.

Now the point of all that waffling is that today I read Denise's post about regrets and I decided I don't want to have them. My past has left me with a feeling of inferiority, with an inability to make friends and keep them. But I can't keep letting my past determine my future. I want to forgive, if not forget what happened and I'd like all those I did wrong by in the past to do the same. So Ros, Michele, Janet, Debra, Julie (both of you), Heather and anyone else from school I've forgotten to mention who reads this, please forgive anything I may have said or done. My memory is very poor about most things relating to school, I reckon I've deliberately forgotten most of it, although I do recall Michele setting fire to her nails in Biology.

*I almost forgot to tell you more. When I was about to get married aged 21 (far too young) my mom informed me that it was my fault my father had left as he had never wanted children and so I was to blame for her not celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary! Oh yes, I was really wanted.
Well I am now. Thank you my darling Micky for showing me just how much you can love someone.

Monday, 5 December 2011


I think I now know what Little Miss P. has been doing instead of blogging.

I had read about "Graffiti Knitting" earlier this year and seen some of the evidence on the web thingy. The local group responsible for the Bullring's dressed bull had tried to do it "guerrilla-style" but had been marched away from the shopping centre before the bull could be clothed. You can read more about the group on their blog stitches and hos. I think he looks fabulous and maybe they should give local designers a chance to have a go. Gok Wan eat your heart out!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

So soon?

Now Pat was a PROPER postman.

It seems I may need to get my skates on. Having checked with the enigma that is the Royal Mail, I appears that Monday 5th Dec is the last recommended day for Christmas post to Australia. That's airmail not surface mail! Mike didn't believe it could take so long. I  reminded him of the cheque book saga. I order new cheque book, two weeks later still no cheque book, phone bank and order another, five days later second cheque book arrives (I know this as I was told what the first cheque number would be). Two days later first ordered cheque book arrives, by which time I had already called bank and had said cheques cancelled. Oh yes, our postal service goes from strength to strength.

Our (by which I mean my) homemade Christmas is progressing very slowly. With the exception of the cake, which I made on "Stir-up Sunday" there is very little I can do yet on the food front for fear it won't keep. A bit of a nuisance as I planned to give food presents this year. At least I've made a good start on the cards, just as well given the above fact.

Eat your heart out Delia.
The above cake has already been "fed" with brandy twice. I might need to do the same if things don't pick up.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Advent Calendar of Life.

Despite very severe digging in Mike's "floating" ribs he failed to pass on the following remark:
"For those of you who might recall my previous post about my memory, Dr Cook didn't play the ukulele or turn into an orangutan."

Well December has arrived and yet again we are all left wondering where the last year has gone. Last year we were getting ready for Mike's little holiday, and from Dec 6th onwards we opened the little door on the calendar and wondered if today was the day he'd get a bed. Thank goodness we don't have that to worry about this year. Instead we have others in Myelomaland in our thoughts. Most of you who read the blog will already know that Paula is poorly in hospital, that FL is waiting for his appointment and that Sean too is once more enjoying hospital food. There are others who we know, who don't blog like Sharon, who once again is trying yet another drug having had radiotherapy on yet another plasmacytoma. Yes life is definitely like an Advent calendar and none of us knows what is behind the door for tomorrow.

OK now that's been said I'll get onto something else completely different. Originally I planned to try and share my attempts to have a partial homemade Christmas, but I'm not sure I will have enough homemade stuff to show. So if you will all humour me, I'll do my best to keep you all entertained with my humble attempts.

Today I would like to share the wreath I have made for the front door:

I'm not sure how long it will last so I've got a back-up plan ready.