Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The window cleaners have been this morning and I was quite cross to find the balcony windows looking filthy. On closer inspection discovered it was just the insides - my territory. Now all sparkling and clean - plus furniture. MTL remarked that next time they should do the lot. Would that he had spoken earlier. Did you guess we have family coming?
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Hi Mum, I think you’ll appreciate this – give it a chance XXX
This was a note accompanying a late birthday gift from my #2 son.
It turned out to be the complete first series of an America TV programme – Breaking Bad which I had never heard of and when I read the blurb I had my doubts.
Walt White is a middle aged chemistry teacher who has just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He loves his wife who is expecting a second child and their first – a teen–age boy - has cerebral palsy. Walt is desperate to leave them provided for after his death.
He teams up with an ex student Jesse - a dealer - and together they take an old RV into the desert and make crystal meth which Jesse will sell to his dubious associates. The dubious associates turn out to be murderous but Walt is a chemist par excellence and makes short shrift of them.
Walt’s secret plan to leave sufficient funds on his death to give his family security is hampered when the family, on learning about his cancer, are desperate that he should have the best possible treatment which would use up all the money he is making. There are a number of moral dilemmas – not least does a man who is suffering from terminal cancer have the right to eschew all treatment and let nature take its course. Walt feels he does have the right but when he sees the distress this causes his loved ones he relents and has the chemo with the inherent hair loss and awful nausea.
Just to complicate matters Walt’s brother in law is a DEA agent. He offers to finance Walt’s treatment but Walt refuses and convinces his wife it is being funded by an old friend.
It all sounds totally immoral and why would one want to watch someone slowly dying and creating may hem. All I can tell you is I found myself watching the first five episodes glued to the set until a late bed-time. First of all it is a rattling good yarn – fast paced – beautifully photographed and the acting is real.
Most of the characters are likeable and the relationship between Walt and Jesse is sad, bitter and humorous. There is quite a bit of black humour. The love between Walt, his wife and Walt junior is believable and touching. The son is played by R.J. Mitte who himself has a milder form of cerebral palsy. Forget about Brad Pitt – R.J. is a real dream boat. Part of the third disc has the cast chatting about the production and everybody adored R. J.
The character of Jesse is interesting – apparently a no-good drop out who came from a good home and got into drugs. On a visit home – on his best behaviour, you see what a disappointment his flunking education was to his parents who now were concentrating on the highly academic younger son. Drugs were found by their maid – Jesse was blamed and thrown out and the younger son thanked him for not giving him away. Why had both sons turned to drugs one wondered?
I expect many of you over the pond are familiar with this series – it has been out since 2008 and won many awards. This is an example of the type of drama that Americans are superb at and I can’t wait to see the rest of the series.
You chose well # 2 son. BTW he was originally put on to it by his son – my grand son so that is three generations – although I hesitate to call it a family film.
Friday, March 23, 2012
I usually do hours of research before booking a holiday, checking that our needs – more stringent these days – are met, before presenting the idea to MTL in such a way that he has be acquiescent – if not wild with enthusiasm. We usually go in May – after the school rush and before the prices rocket and a quick glance at the relevant web page indicated I’d better get on with it. In a way it was helpful that the choice was limited and I managed to fix it yesterday morning before going for a late birthday lunch with the girls.
We have booked a cottage – they call it an apartment – at
Thomas Estate. Do you remember that great series ‘To the Manor Born’ with Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles? It was filmed there and the hotel was ‘Grantleigh Manor.
The estate is spread over 1000 acres of lakes and gardens with a little chugging train to take you round. The hotel, a beautiful 19th century mansion – nestled in rolling
countryside – was
designed by famous architect Sir John Soane. Somerset
The lunch was quite jolly but one of the girls managed to let slip it was for my birthday and my trifle was delivered with candle and two singing waitresses. I felt a cheat as customers wished me a Happy Birthday on their way out. I mean it was ages ago! Joy was bearing up well after her recent loss and was thrilled that her son-in-law had set up a scholarship for boys interested in sailing studies in Mike’s name.
Outside the restaurant we bumped into J - an active Townswomen’s Guild member. I had – some time ago - been given a large volume of memoirs written by a former Guild Member and felt it should be kept in a more official place. She suggested it should be returned to her daughter and said M was a friend and would know how to get in touch. I hadn’t seen M for years so she gave me her telephone number. By now I was beginning to regret ever mentioning it.
We all went our separate ways and walking up the narrow road that leads to the bottom of our hill – who do you think I bumped into? M and her retired husband - who used to be our doctor. She is a very nice lady and suggested I put the book in a plastic bag at the bottom of our steps and she would collect it later on in the day and would give it to the memoir writer's daughter who she was meeting tomorrow. And this we did. Wasn’t that great?
Before I went out I dropped the gold butterfly from my pearl earrings and – with glasses and on my hands and knees I could not find it but mentioned – half joking - to MTL he might like to have a look. Would you believe he found it whilst I was out?
Whilst down in the town I decided that this was the day to use my Block Buster card and get a film. It seemed to be full of vampire films, monsters and robots but I found ’The Help’ and took that. Later in the day I watched it and was glad I had read the book first. I felt a great surge of emotion in the scene when Emeline – having witnessed one of the maids being manhandled and beaten by the police entered her house to find it full of silent supportive maids. Such strong stuff - really deserves to be seen.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Lend Me Your Ear
I was trying to daydream but my mind kept wandering.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.
Jean de la Fontaine
I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.
When you have only two pennies in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom
It is a sweet thing, friendship, a clear balm, a happy and suspicious bird of calm.
Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.
Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible
All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.
Steven Wright’s and Thomas Jefferson’s quotes have particular resonance with me.
The Chinese Proverb reminds me of my late MIL who once told me she was taking the children up to Scotland and – with only a few pence in her purse she had the choice of a cup of tea or a cigarette; she chose a cigarette. She was rarely without a cigarette and some knitting when I knew her in her seventies. Her hands were the hands of a much younger woman – her lungs a different story sadly. I still have woollen hats, tea cosies and cardies knitted by her.
Shelley would be appalled to find that the latest ruse of the Education Department is to discourage school children from having ‘best friends’. Discuss!
As regards Erickson’s gardening quote – it seems most of the
is facing drought conditions –
unheard of at this time of the year. UK
Larson’s quote rings true - especially when one marvels at incredibly courageous feats.
Finally – excuse the levity but here’s an old Scottish joke:
Wha’s the difference between Bung Crosby and Walt Disna’?
Bung sings and Walt disna’.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Gosh – is that really the time?
It was a very busy day; both of us had early appointments and Sheila, our help had changed her day from Friday to Thursday to cope with road works so I had to set the alarm for 7 am which usually means I wake at 6am. Once back home the phone rang steadily throughout the day and the postman arrived laden. It was lunchtime before I opened any presents and still nothing from MTL except a beautiful card.
I determined I wasn’t going to mention presents and just when I was about to explode he appeared with a carrier bag full of little gifts and far too much chocolate, which he says is for him. Later on a small package appeared on the kitchen table containing a very delicate gold locket and chain. MTL hadn’t been sure about it – he has been known to buy me an identical brooch to one he had bought earlier ( and even I didn’t realise it at first) so he included the receipt so I could change it.
I was glad about that because they have had a terrific sale and I had seen a necklace to replace one that has become discoloured with age, but in the end decided I should pull my horns in. Now it was a possibility – if the sale was still on. The necklace was far too delicate for an old trout and I would never have worn it. Oddly when I removed the necklace it had a ticket tucked under the padding which was half the price of the receipt. MTL had paid the larger price but it seems the ticket just referred to the chain. We’ll go down to the jewellers - which we have used for 27 years and choose something we both like.
I realise some of you will be appalled that I didn’t just accept graciously but we know each other far too well for that – warts and all - and I’m hopeless at dissembling.
I really enjoy hearing from very old friends, children and grandchildren but I do find my birthday a bit of an ordeal and I can’t explain why. MTL has just found another present hanging on the boiler room door - from Joy who must have missed us yesterday.
We went to the local Italian last night which is basically the same except they have changed the name twice since it was Pinnochio’s.
Thank you for all the lovely wishes here and on Face Book. Now for my thank you letters.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
It’s a Mistery!
Yet another day when we are shrouded in mist; usually it comes down from the top of the hill or we are clear and Minehead and the hill opposite are covered in a thick white blanket. Margaret said we are heaps warmer than
and at least a month ahead in the garden.
However on the upside, they do have buses stop right outside their door, they belong to
countless clubs – which they enjoy, and they are walking distance from one
daughter and a bus ride from the other.
There isn’t the peace and quiet of living on the hill but Margaret said
she doesn’t regret the move for a moment.
She did appreciate waking to our usual birdsong
When we were reminiscing at the reception after the funeral she said:
“Do you remember our first picnic together on
Exmoor? The four
of us brought our own picnic and three of us had them in plastic bags but Pat
had a picnic hamper. She had a linen
napkin and brought out a bottle of wine and four glasses, carefully wrapped.
When we asked her what she had brought to eat she said she didn’t know – it was a surprise because HTL had made it for her.”
Laughter all around. On reflection I’m fairly sure this was when my right leg was encased in a full length plaster but that would have spoilt the story. However there was a time when MTL would accompany me clothes shopping and would wait patiently whilst I tried things on, guarding my stuff and helping me decide. Indeed he seemed to enjoy it. Those days are but a distant memory and I hope I have made up in kind for such indulgence.
I wonder if you have had periods when you have been ‘spoilt rotten’.
By the way re the flowers below - if you want to see hellebores at their best click on john.g on the side bar. John’s Dad has some beauties.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
None of us were looking forward to Mike’s funeral but, in the end, it was almost a happy occasion. It was good to hear about his life and when he met Joy. He was a Master Mariner who loved the sea and they had spent many years abroad. He spent 16 years in
the doubtful pleasure of meeting Colonel Gadaffi. Mike was passionate about music and I’m sure
would have approved of the family’s choices.
Some of it was unfamiliar to me but Joy is going to give me the titles. Libya
It was ‘family flowers only’ and Joy had chosen exquisite wreaths to decorate the coffin, predominately white with a hint of blue to represent the sea. The grandchildren were travelling down that morning and brought more flowers and a single rose from the latest baby great- grandchild. Happily Mike had managed to meet both great- grandchildren.
Joy’s son and daughter were a great help with all the decisions that have to be made and one of them found the old battered poetry book that had always travelled with him. They chose a poem by Robert Browning – ’A Woman’s last word’. It was to be read by his daughter – with the proviso that the celebrant would take over if necessary. With great courage she finished the chosen verses. I discovered that one can maintain complete control over emotional sound but silent tears will flow.
With all Joy has had to cope with the last few years she has still managed to help with Cancer Care and we were invited to donate to this in lieu of flowers. All four of our quartet has dealt with cancer so it was a popular choice for us. We were invited to join the family at an hotel overlooking the sea for refreshments and it was like old times when – eventually - the four of us were sitting at a table in the conservatory and delightful when the grandchildren drew up chairs and joined us. Both grandson and granddaughter showed us a photo of their respective babies on identical phones with identical cracks where said babies had hurled them - as babies do.
Margaret had arrived to stay with us the night before and discussing funerals she said she and her husband had both written a précis of their lives to have to hand when the occasion arises. I think this is an excellent idea and suggested we did the same. I expect I shall have to drag it out of MTL and write it myself.
It’s good to know Mike is at peace at last and Joy has a loving and supportive family. I know in our small way our trio will help. She phoned us the morning of the funeral and introduced us to everybody as her three best friends. My wish is that we can continue our friendship as long as possible and that Joy can now give time to herself and her health and well being.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
What’s been happening.
The computer packed up the day we were going to see the consultant so there was little time to fret about it. As soon as we were seated he gave us the good news and then MTL said what a great job Mr M had done whilst Mr M said what a great job MTL had done. I suggested perhaps it was team work - to which they readily agreed. We had the option of never darkening his door again and leaving it to our local doctor or continuing with twice yearly check ups so we chose the latter - simply a blood test in September. It had – after all been ‘a very aggressive cancer.’
On the way home we called at the Dragon House to book lunch for nine the day our French family leave us for a few days in London and we are joined by our Norfolk daughter and boy friend who were having a few days in Bristol. I tried to get a special deal by limiting the choices of each course from 6 to 3. The nice lady we saw thought that would be OK but later the boss said – in the nicest possible way ‘No!’
The French children – two teen age boys and a nine year old little girl are delightful and great fun. Their English is excellent and I assume so is their French. The boys used to tease me unmercifully about my French so now I get my own back by giving a tolerable impression of the eldest boy speaking English and sounding exactly like a young Charles Boyer. D – the younger boy, we discovered has entered on the kitchen calendar their birth dates. We always do this but hadn’t got round to it. On December 25th he had drawn a Christmas tree and parcels – lest we forgetJ
After the initial welcome meal cooked by me. The parents took over the cooking which was a treat for us all. Throughout the week I was given lots of advice about the computer. I used to worry if I replaced it and all my stuff went on it – surely it would be full before I started so it was a great relief to hear how much room there is now on new computers. Beyond fathoming. Excellent advice from #1 son to bite the bullet and embrace windows 7.
Once our guests had bade a fond farewell we high tailed over to PC World and I bought a Lenova – because it was there. One gripe: why did nobody tell me that without speakers I would have no sound – AT ALL? The workshop at Tim’s has transferred the important writing as far as I can tell. The photos they are still working on and speakers have been ordered. I have to relearn how to deal with photos; fortunately more family come early April.
Lovely surprise last week-end when an old friend and his wife – visiting Tintinhull asked if they could come and see us. It was G’s birthday- we are almost exactly the same age which has always been a bond. The three of us worked together in the theatre club many, many years ago and we had a hilarious afternoon, recalling triumphs and disasters. They are both excellent actors and A is about to play the old woman in Alan Bennett’s ‘Lady in a Van’ – a gorgeous part.
Some sadness – one of our quartet of friends Joy, lost her husband last week after an increasingly arduous illness. Margaret – another member of the quartet who now lives in Cheltenham, is coming to stay for the funeral. It has been a great comfort to Joy that she and her daughter were with her husband holding his hands and communicating.
Rest in Peace dear Mike
Monday, March 05, 2012
Slowly getting there!
Still ironing out wrinkles and eagerly looking forward to Tim's next visit with sound and addresses and pictures. I seem to have a limited amount of time on line so will concentrate on trying to catch up with you all whilst I can. Hasn't it turned cold?