Thursday, 16 February 2017

The New Carpet Post...

In my role as 'Domestic Services Manager', I've spent the last few days moving stuff.
The hall, stairs, landing, lounge, dining room, cloakroom and under-stairs cupboard all had to be cleared for the new carpets.
 
The big harp ended up in a corner of the study for safe keeping...
 
 
The baby harp found it's way to the back bedroom (along with the contents of all the cupboards and all the pictures off the walls)..

 
The conservatory was absolutely rammed with furniture...

 
And here's 'one last view' of the old carpet.
In this photo it probably doesn't look too bad but it was badly faded, threadbare and moth eaten in the corners.  It was also a strange 1990s shade of pink/peach...

 
Here's the new carpet - actually small flecks of cream, beige and 'modern grey'.
It's one of those super-hard wearing carpets, which means I don't need to worry about any accidental spills, cats or pupils!!!!

 
Then we had to put everything back...
 
This week we've also had the front and back doors replaced
AND Mum and Dad are having all the building work done for their lift.
AND I decided to start a quilt and some cushions for the lounge....
(photos to follow)
 
I am so pleased with it all... but also a bit knackered!!
Jx

Thursday, 9 February 2017

It's All Too Much..

 
I took this photo yesterday afternoon of my 'cat child' Thomas, nose down in his bed.
 
At first he was in a massive grump after I'd failed him as a 'cat parent' by
- taking him to the vets AGAIN.
- refusing his request for wet food at midday (which he never has anyway)
- playing the harp when he wanted to sleep.
Cruel mother!!!!
 
The amusing thing is that he went into a deep sleep in this position.
 
After all the worries and upsets he caused us last week, the last few days have been much better.  He's as stable as an elderly cat can be.  He's eating lots, drinking enough, moving more easily with the pain killers, and his heart/thyroid medication is keeping his weight up too.
 
I know that he feels better because he's started to communicate properly with me about everything again.  He's an incredibly verbal cat, so we call this combination of miaows, purrs and tail swishing 'staff training'!
 
Fingers crossed that we have him with us for a while longer yet...
Jx
 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Time Travelling Wife..

We bought this lovely little desk for the hall in around 2003.
At first we used it properly - keeping diaries, important paperwork, address books, envelopes and stamps in the various drawers and cubby holes.  As the world of communication moved on, it just became 'a nice vintage feature' in the hall..
 
 
Yesterday I had to clear it out as part of our grand tidy up for the new carpets.
I realised - with something of a shock - that I genuinely didn't know what was in there!
Most of the drawers I hadn't opened for the best part of a decade.
 
So I started at the bottom and worked upwards..
In the bottom drawer I was amazed to find a couple of work diaries from 2003 and 2004.
(Goodness knows what they were doing there. I can only assume that they also had some useful contact numbers or birthdays that I hadn't had time to transfer across to the post 2005 diaries.)
 
If you ever needed an illustration of how my job had expanded and become unmanageable - here's the first week of October for a Head of Music in 2003...

 
...and this double page spread is the same week in October 2014
(my last October in the job)

 
I also found a sheet of paper that reminded me that 2003 - 2007 was actually an extremely difficult period in our lives.  In the summer of 2003 Mark was very ill with Meningitis.  It took him years to get back to somewhere near full health.  The sheet was a report from his final (and successful) structured return to work in 2006/7.
 
It's funny how this collision of a few sheets of paper has got me thinking..
- I remembered that the man who wrote the report died two weeks later while he was on holiday.  He took a shower in his holiday apartment and the water was contaminated with Legionnaire's.
- I've been thinking about the coping mechanisms that we've put in place to help Mark deal with the fact that he hasn't got much in the way of a medium term memory.
- I've been thinking about our paper free world and wondering what there'll be for the family historian in the future..
 
But mostly I've been hit by the hard evidence of how teaching really has become so challenging.
Jx

Saturday, 4 February 2017

At Last...

...Some blue skies at the weekend!
 
Mark and I had flexible plans for this morning.  If it continued to be wet, cold and windy we were going to do some serious tidying up in the cupboard under the stairs.  If it was dry (and preferably a bit sunny) we would go for a walk along the lanes and canal tow path to the north of our village.
 
So here are some 'snaps' taken on my camera this morning..
The Droitwich canal at Porters Mill.
 
 
Winter sunlight through a gap in the trees.
 
 
..And a glorious winter blue from the tow path

 
Mark has had major work stress recently - and I've been worried about several situations - so it was really nice to get outside and remind ourselves of the good stuff.
 
Thank you for leaving lovely comments on my last post.  Thomas is increasingly settled and content.  The pain relief has allowed his jarred back to settle and his front paws are fine.  He's worked out that it's me rather than Mark who is adding stuff to his food to make him feel better.  As a result he was a bit anxious when I went out last night with Mum and Dad.... Aw bless him!  We've got a review with the vet next Wednesday, then hopefully we can just carry on for a bit.
 
Other stuff that's 'on my radar' at the moment..
- Dad's asthma is very bad.  We spent a lot of last week clearing rooms and moving stuff at their house.  The builder is coming in next Wednesday to clear a space for the lift in the utility room.  We did all the sorting and moving upstairs... including clearing the entire little bedroom/study to make space for the lift's upstairs position.  I moved all the dusty books etc. but the whole job has made him feel very unwell (and he's VERY stubborn about this!!)
- This week I have to clear the lounge, dining room, hall, stairs, cloakroom and hall cupboard for the new carpets to be fitted.  Expect plenty of photos of this project!  (I'm also project managing new doors and a new conservatory... exciting but slightly scary.)
- I'm also bothered about my sister's health again.... but that's something for another post really.
 
So - if all else fails - eat another cupcake!!
This absolute 'gem' of a construction was my treat to myself on Thursday.
It was called a 'Chocoholics Delight' and they weren't kidding..
..chocolate cake, scooped out for a genache filling; white chocolate butter cream, two beautiful soft centre chocolates, chocolate sauce and a dusting of cocoa powder
 
 
Yummmmm!
Jx


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

So Worried...

 
Thomas - helping with the car build in October.
 
But more recently...
We've had a horrible few days with my beloved elderly 'cat child'.
Only a couple of posts ago I was telling you all that he'd had a great trip to the vets (in terms of his health anyway!) and that he seemed very stable for his age.  Suddenly, over the weekend, everything started to go wrong.
 
We think that he was 'jumped' by one of the other younger cats in the neighbourhood while he was on one of his daily potters round the garden.  He's a tiny, frail old thing so this really upset his arthritis in his back.  On Sunday evening he yowled with pain when Mark tried to pick him up and bring him upstairs.
 
Early on Monday morning I took him down to the vets again.  She gave him a strong dose of pain killer and gave me a further 'holding dose' for Tuesday.  She asked me to bring him down again this morning so that we could check how things were and potentially do some blood tests.
 
Early yesterday morning he did a 'bad jump' off the sofa, jarring his shoulders and front paws badly.  This accident was largely a result of the pain killers - because he doesn't know that I'm dosing him up and just feels 'better'.  By the time I got up and realised what was happening, he was walking around as if he'd been in a car accident.  It was awful to see and there was a period of time yesterday morning when I seriously thought I would have to have him 'put to sleep'.
 
Fortunately it became clear that Monday's huge dose of pain killers were masking the worst of the pain.  While it was distressing to see him move around, he still had an appetite and wanted to follow his normal routine.  He actually ate THREE sachets of cat food, rather than his normal two, and a substantial helping of biscuits.  On the vets advice, I gave him the next dose of pain killers yesterday afternoon and tried very, very hard to stop crying.....
 
So this morning we had an early visit to the vets.  He's moving better than yesterday, which gives us hope that his arthritis will calm from all these bumps and knocks.  He's got more daily medication than either Mark or I... and we hope that it will give him a little more time of quality life.  The only problem is that the pain killers could create renal problems.  Even though his thyroid condition is under control, we're still in a 'last chance saloon' with him now.
 
It's very upsetting.  Relatively recently I'd dared to hope that we might even see in 2018 with him on our knees.  Then, yesterday, I thought that we'd be measuring his life span in hours and days.  Now we seem to be talking about weeks and months....
 
When you take on a pet you know that this stage is emotional trade off for all their love, loyalty and commitment.  It doesn't stop it being SO hard...
 
Here are a few more photos of Thomas' world..
 
 
He'll sleep on anything.. even Mark's PS3 controller..
 
 
Neighbourhood watch.. taken a couple of years ago..

 
...and a furry paperweight (again taken when he was a little younger)

 
Jx

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Dressed for the Motoring Club Lunch...

 I still HATE having my picture taken..
but I've braved the camera lenses today to show that I kept working towards my 'look' through 2016.  Mark bought me this dress from Apricot as a Christmas present.
It looks lovely with a black cardigan or the black jacket that survived the post-work wardrobe cull.
 
 
I added black leggings and some seriously ancient black fabric boots.
Then I accessorised with a vintage enamel necklace..
 
 
.. and a mixture of vintage and modern black and cream bracelets.


Those of you with sharp eyes will notice that my harp seems to have shrunk -
but the one behind me in the lounge was a present from my whole family for my 50th Birthday. I still have my large pedal harp.  In this photo I'm playing music for a Christmas coffee morning in the local church hall...

 
It's really interesting to have the chance to work with two instruments that are so completely different.  I have a strong emotional attachment to my big harp.  It was completely overhauled and restrung with light gauge gut strings two years ago.  This gives it a big, even tone and lots of 'playing predictability'.  The new harp is strung with a lighter gauge hybrid string, which is bright and sunny but less predictable.  Last weekend I performed some solo work on the little harp for the first time.  It's hard to explain, but when I'm playing the new harp I feel like my finger-tips are linked to my soul..  Fellow musicians out there will know what I'm on about!!
 
Welcome to my new follower - Jules.  Please leave a short comment then I'll be able to find my way over to your blog and follow you too.   Otherwise I seem to get hopelessly lost in the 'blogosphere'.
Jx

Thursday, 26 January 2017

This Week.. A Miscellany

 
Thomas, my beloved elderly cat, had to go back to the vets for another check up.
Last year we came very close to losing him in May to an overactive thyroid.
He was ill again in November, when the vet recommended that we 'tweak' his medication.

 
The good news is that he's stable again, has put on a bit of weight and his heart sounds good.
Hopefully he'll be with us for a while longer yet.  He came to us as a young cat but he's always been tiny so we're not sure of his exact age.. I hope that he'll be one of those cats who goes on for years because he's certainly lives a life of pampering, adoration and indulgence!
 
Here's the 'little prince'...
 
 
Things have moved on quickly at Mum and Dad's house.
They were lucky to be offered an 'ex-demo' lift which the company had used at a trade show.
This came at a preferential price (although still not a cheap option!) and moves the project forward without much of a waiting time.  It looks like they'll have the lift installed in a few weeks.  I've promised that I'll make plenty of time available next week to move stuff around with Dad.
 
At the same time, I'm project managing several jobs that are taking place here.
We got a really good deal on some new carpet, which is going to be laid in the hall, stairs, landing, lounge, dining room and conservatory.  It's one of those super-hardwearing, stain-resistant carpets (that is really needed when you've got someone with HD in the family).  It will also much smarter now that I'm working from home.
 
AND we're going to have a new front and back door installed.
 
AND we've got a roofer to come a fix the leaks in the roof.
 
AND I've got a price to replace the entire top of the conservatory - which has also been leaking and generally showing it's age.
 
We haven't just had a lottery win.  It's just that we bought the house when it was brand new 22 years ago.  We've been able to 'live lightly' with the carpets, white goods and other fixtures since then.  The roof should have been fixed several years ago but we 'got by' with a tarpaulin in the loft....  Now that I'm at home most of the time - and can be flexible about access for the builders etc - we can finally get some of the jobs sorted.
 
It's a little bit scary because I've never done this sort of thing before...
but I can't wait to get all the stuff that's been irritating me sorted!!