More Progress

As I write this post I am camped out in the orangery. This is day two. The under floor heating is being installed in my living room and the floor tiles are being laid in the hall, which means I currently have no access to the rest of my house. It is inconvenient but not unpleasant. This unseasonably warm weather means it gets very hot as the sun beats down on the glass roof but I have the bi-fold doors open and my dogs must think its wonderful as they can dip in and out of the garden at will. I have some books, my laptop, phone charger and a stash of snacks to nibble on. In the evenings I can watch tv on my computer, so it’s all good. In fact, if I had a Portaloo in the garden I could probably live in here quite happily. In reality I will be out here for the rest of the week I expect, with varying degrees of precarious access to the kitchen and bathroom. Vern is away all week so it gets a bit lonely out here but the results will be worth it.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster recently as Vern deals with an issue regarding an elderly aunt who sadly needs care as her mental health deteriorates. She is a very strong little lady and stubborn as a mule but has become vulnerable and unfortunately steps needed to be taken to keep her safe. The whole family is pulling together to help her through this transitional stage, this is when I realise how lucky I am to have such an amazing second family. It has also made me stop and consider what might happen to me in my twilight years. I mean, hopefully Vern and I will remain in good health for many years to come. We have discussed this issue somewhat and ideally we would toddle off to Switzerland together and enter a medical facility, happily downing a final, sleep-inducing cocktail at sunset and drifting off, hand in hand. Neither of us can stomach the thought of one of us having to watch the other decline into a vegetative state through dementia or be incapacitated by illness. As much as I adore my husband I have no desire to wipe his bum for him, and I know he feels the same. My daughter was horrified when we mentioned our plans for a joint departure, but I feel that if the time came when we were unable to look after ourselves, our children would hopefully be in middle age and just benefitting from their children becoming more independent and I for one would hate for them to have to put their lives on hold in order to care for me.

Of course, all this is pure speculation at the moment. I do feel that it is important though, to have frank and open conversations about the future. To at least let your loved ones know how you would like to be treated in old age, and after your death. I have always maintained that I am happy for any useful body part to be harvested if at all possible and the rest can be chucked in a skip for all I care. My spirit will already be gone to a better place, only the shell will remain and although perfectly functional, it has never been particularly attractive so I won’t miss it! I don’t have a favourite hymn, I don’t need kind words or funny stories to be told at my funeral. The people who know and love me, and there are relatively few, will hopefully respect that a simple send-off would be fitting for me. I care deeply for the environment and nature, I am a spiritual, gentle soul who bleeds easily. I’ll take the love of my family while I am living and when I am gone the world will keep turning.

Oh dear, this post has turned from a simple progress update to something deep and meaningful but I don’t apologise. Sometimes a period of reflection is needed to put things into perspective. Sometimes a reminder to myself of how much I have to be thankful for is a welcome distraction from the stressful situations we have to work through. So as I sit here, with the sun setting on another beautiful day I look at my three dogs, snoozing peacefully on the floor and I feel calm.

Thanks for reading. xx

Progress

Just thought you might like a sneak peek at the new bathroom which is finally finished.

We are now waiting for some tiles to arrive from Italy so that we can install underfloor heating and lay the floors in the hall and living room.

Thanks for reading. Xx

My week in words

Last weekend whizzed past in a blur of activity. Our tiler Mark worked tirelessly on the bathroom to get it finished. Unfortunately he ran out of tiles right at the end so we are almost finished! The tiles look like planks of wood in a pale creamy colour with a darker version inside the shower. In the absence of any bathroom furnishings it looks like the inside of a Swedish log cabin but I think it will come together nicely.

Monday morning we all got up nice and early as we were expecting the plumber. I went to meet a friend for coffee and when I got back at lunchtime no one had materialised. I spent a quiet afternoon emptying the bookcase in the living room while Vern worked in his office.

Tuesday. Vern left early as usual for Birmingham and I got up soon afterwards to be ready in case anyone turned up. My mum popped round for a cup of tea. We sat in the orangery enjoying the sunshine and my sister also dropped in on her way back from the gym. Neither hide nor hair was seen of any labourers. By this time I was frustrated because I couldn’t get hold of anyone to ask if there was a problem so I just seethed quietly. As I had a free afternoon I decided to watch a film that I’d heard about on Netflix called Roma. Apparently it’s the first film on an independent tv network to be nominated for several Academy Awards and is tied with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the most Oscar nominations for a film not in the English language. I was expecting great things. Some people find films with subtitles hard to follow. I find that it depends on the film. Roma is set in Mexico, the title being the name of the district it is based in. It follows the life of a housemaid, Cleo, who lives and works at the home of a middle class family. It becomes clear that she is a well-loved member of the household, especially by the four young children she takes care of. Head of the family is Antonio, a doctor, who leaves early in the film for a conference in Quebec. His wife Sofia and her mother-in-law are distraught at his departure and it soon becomes clear that Antonio is in no hurry to return. The film is beautifully shot in black and white which seems to amplify the background noise so that the viewer really gets a sense of being present in the moment. We are not distracted by colour which forces the viewer to focus purely on the mundane of the daily routine Cleo must endure. Not much happens during the film until near the end, yet I remained enthralled throughout and I was not even aware that I was reading subtitles, it was so engaging. I would recommend you see it if you get the chance. It’s one of those rare moments when I felt that my outlook on life had been changed through someone’s story.

Wednesday was another non-productive day. I visited my mother-in-law in the morning as it was her birthday and Vern was away. I took a freshly made chocolate cake which made her smile, she loves chocolate! The carpenter turned up to board out the little alcove I had requested for the shower and later the tiler popped in and tiled it. That was the sum total of work done all day. I busied myself going to war with the dust which had returned with a vengeance.

Thursday and finally getting up early paid off. The carpenter was here bright and early to sand the wooden banisters and cover the hall floor with special boards which the new tiles will be attached to. I must admit it was good to see something happening again. My son and his girlfriend visited in the afternoon with my grandson Jason. It was lovely to see him but the state of the house meant that it was a little stressful keeping him away from all the dangerous scenarios. He does make me laugh though, he is a cheeky chappy who has just started to say a few words, his favourite being Oi! in a broad Berkshire accent. His mum thinks it came from her because when he is doing something naughty she shouts “Oi, don’t do that”!

Friday came and went without a visit from any workmen. Not sure what has happened to the plumber, maybe he was ill or sent off to another job but I have been promised his undivided attention next week so maybe by next weekend we will have a working bathroom downstairs, fingers crossed. We met with our kitchen designer Marco who has drawn up some splendid plans to refurbish the most important room in our house.

This weekend has been a strange one. My other half is normally a happy bloke. Nothing much gets him down. He often makes up silly songs and when he is singing or whistling I know that all is well. Every so often though, he becomes withdrawn and quiet. It often happens on the weekend and more often during the winter months. He just kind of shuts down and I can’t get through anymore. No amount of cajoling will bring him back. He loses interest in everything around him and won’t talk about it. I never know how best to deal with these black moods. I’ve learnt to just ignore it and carry on as usual. Eventually he snaps out of it but it can last for several days and I find it very distressing. My mood automatically drops too because I’m worried about Vern, but also I’m angry because our weekends are sacred. We spend a great deal of time apart during the week as he is away with work so any time we do get together is a big deal. I have suggested he sees a doctor but this is a waste of breath, after all, he’s a man and a stubborn one at that. He has tried to explain why this happens and he has assured me that it is nothing to do with me. I take it personally, thinking I must have done something to upset him but I know now that this is not the case but it doesn’t make these episodes of depression any easier to deal with. I’m not a naturally positive person myself, I’m a glass-half-empty kind of girl but I think I’m generally happy, so these sudden mood swings Vern has are hard to bear. I adore the very bones of this man. We will soon be celebrating twenty-five years of marriage but I still have no idea what is going on in his head most of the time. It is said that men and women are an entirely different species and I for one would agree with that!

Well, this blog is ending on a bit of a downer but I find that when I start writing it all just pours out onto the page, like a sort of therapy. Hope he comes back to me soon.

Thanks for reading. xx

The Best Chocolate Cake You’ll Ever Eat.

I delivered this beauty to my lovely mother-in-law this morning for her birthday. I got the recipe from my daughter who made it recently for her friend and it’s so darkly delicious that I had to make it myself. It’s a liquid cake, using oil instead of butter, with buttermilk and black cocoa so the texture is similar to a red velvet, dense and soft. The frosting is rich and fudgy, not too sweet, and sets to a truffle like texture. In short it’s possibly the most delicious chocolate cake you will ever taste. Xx