Sunday, 31 March 2013

Losing Family and Hair, and Giving Chocolate

Have been really slack lately with blogging, have hardly looked at the laptop in a while. Life has been really busy this last couple of weeks and I must admit to becoming a bit disheartened by the whole getting online, social networking thing. I've only been on Facebook since November and it has put me back in touch with old friends from school, family I had lost touch with and other mum's I had known well, before we moved and our kids all grew up. However, it has also helped to cause a family rift between my little brother and I that seems to not have an end in sight and made me question what on earth was I thinking when I decided to go online. My SIL has messaged me and profusely apologised for the hurtful things that she said after my daughter died and for that I am truly grateful. My brother unfortunately has gone silent and ignored my last message.
 I was kind of fed up with the whole internet thing for about a week. But then I realised how much better I had been feeling lately, because I had somewhere to talk about all the things that had happened to us over these last eight years. Things that I really needed to get out, to talk(or blog) about and had been unable to bring up for fear of upsetting family. RC told me that after Sophie had died he had blogged about dreams he had had of Sophie and memories of things that she had done because he wanted to tell someone but did not want to upset me. I decided to carry on with blogging even if it was just for the therapeutic effect it was having on me.
 So to re-cap on the last week. Our broken boiler was finally condemned and went to it's watery grave. Hubby RC came back from Malta and brought a little sunshine with him even though the temperature was still freezing. It was so good to have him back, even though he would have to put up with no heating for a while, a bit of a shock after hot, sunny Malta. A crew turned up to fit a new boiler on Thursday morning and after a flood,(the dismantelling crew had not drained the system like they said they had), work proceeded. It all came to a halt when the new boiler was not delivered but resumed again in the afternoon with blaring fire alarms every time they had to solder a pipe. They were nice boys, very polite and seemed to want to do a good job. So I made sure they had the good coffee when I made one. The job took all day, but the house was finally warming up. The electrician arrived and did temporary wiring so that we could use the boiler over Easter weekend, he will be back on Tuesday to do permanent wiring. Everyone is having lots of hot baths and I am struggling to keep up with washing and drying so many bath towels each day.
Early Friday morning I walked into town with youngest son to look for a barber that was open on Good Friday. He had decided to get rid of his long hair and go for a very short style. A big decision I was hoping he would be happy with when it was done.I told him to be sure about it and reminded him of the haircut he had wanted at five, to look like Bart Simpson, that had left him crying for it to be glued back on. The first choice of barber was shut, but a couple of doors down was a unisex salon that a friend of his used, so we popped in, to see if they were busy. They were not and soon he was in the chair, the lovely hairdresser asked him about three times if he was sure before she took the hair clippers to him. There was a lot of hair, someone even came in and asked if it was being done for charity, or a bet when they saw all the hair coming off through the window. My baby boy with his long golden curls is now a smart, striking young man, with a George Clooney short back and sides. I cannot believe how much older he looks and that he has a neck! After watching how good she was and how unbusy it was, I decide to get my hair styled as well, while I was there. I have not had my hair cut by a professsional in years. It has been long for ages and mainly in a bun, sometimes loose or in a pony tail, however the bonfire a few weeks ago had singed a bit of my hair  and I had had to lose a bit of it. Now I needed it to be shaped as it was a lot shorter. We both felt good as we walked home with our new posh hair
 Good Friday was also eldest son's 19th birthday, he mainly had computer components that were ordered online, although I wrapped and paid for them, I have no real concept of why they make him so happy or what they are. We all went out as a family for the day and took him to some of the posher food stores to get supplies for home made chinese meal that he wanted for his birthday tea. He spent the evening using the big television in the sitting room as a moniter, as he tried out his new toys.
Saturday everyone was tired, probably as we had a whole day now with a lovely warm house. RC was showing no enthusiasm for getting out of bed, especially when I told him that we had snow again, so I took the dogs out, made tea for his mum and then made the ultimate sacrifice, for which I have told him he would have to love me forever. I left RC to lay in bed, while I braved the supermarket, on an Easter holiday weekend! I knew it was going to be bad, when the people at the pedestrian crossing were already jostling and arguing, because the people at the front were not crossing quick enough. I managed to get the last trolley and proceeded to the doors where there seemed to be a game of chicken breaking out, fuelled by profanity. By the time I reached the salad section, they were openly calling each other names. It was packed, there were staff trying to restock shelves and taking flack because they had run out Easter Eggs.As I inched my way round, it occurred to me that most of the items on my list were well stocked, I was in no rush and the mad behaviour of my fellow man was actually quite amusing.I waited patiently in packed aisles, smiled at the grumpy and queued serenely much to the annoyance of all around. Somehow, I dodged around the rude shoppers all trying to get in the doorway, without giving way to anyone and got lucky when a taxi pulled up straight away as I got to the kerb.
 Easter came a bit quicker than we thought, as we had forgot to change the clocks. But RC loved his Easter egg that I customized for him. I bought a giant hollow egg, managed to cut and prise it open, fill it with his favourite creme eggs, reseal and decorate with melted chocolate, add a couple of his favourite chocolate bars and tie with a ribbon.I love to spoil him. The kids said they were too old for eggs this year and chose other treats but my RC will never grow out of anything, he is forever young, part of the reason I love him so much.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

It Never Snows but it Blizzards

Life at "Home RC" has carried on crashing from one disaster to the next. I'm starting to think that Hubby RC is a good luck charm because things just seem much crappier without him here. Or maybe I'm just missing him a tad too much. The bike is now fixed but at nearly treble the original price, the wheel had to have extra parts which doubled the cost, then I thought what the hell, throw in a decent new seat the other one was way passed due.
Me and Cicely got to have a lovely couple of hours in Whistable, sat in Costa having a mocha, the most relaxation I've had all week. I picked up the bike on the way back and felt that I might just pull the weeks chores off in time, until I saw the flood in the kitchen on my return. The boiler has packed up again, so had to call out the engineer, who cannot fix it til Monday.He left us with 3 tiny fan heaters to keep a whole house warm for the three days.
Once the kitchen was tidied after his visit, Cicely told me her laptop disk drive has also ceased to work. I do not have my own laptop at present, I have been borrowing RC's, and lately Ira's, I had hoped to pick up a net book for myself as my computer use is quite limited. I can see the chances of getting a netbook floating away now as I will have to address the cost of repair of Cicely's against the cost of getting her a new laptop. I could use her old one as I do not need the disk drive, she needs a good one for college.
  Later when dogs were walked and I had managed to warm up the kitchen, I sat down to look at the computer, Cicely was going to show me how to set up a twitter account, but I thought I would browse facebook while I waited for her. I saw that I had a private message from my little brother. I haven't heard from him for a week since he asked me why I had not friended his wife on facebook. I had told him that she had upset me with comments she had made about the care we had given our daughter before she died. The message was a tirade about what a wonderful kind woman his wife is, how what she said would never have been said intentionally to hurt us. How can telling newly grieving parents parents they should have done better and the result would have been different, not be intentionally hurtful? Apparently mentioning my mum in this makes me a low person and he is angry about the way I have dealt with it. I cried over this for a long time. My reasons for not telling him what was said was to prevent a family row and not make a rift in their marriage that was rocky at the time. He was aware of his wife's views when she had aired them with my mum, but did not know that she had also decided she needed to air them with me.He told me he couldn't believe I would hold a grudge for so long and didn't know why I needed to bring it up.
 I have answered him. I know he has read it. I told him that however the comments were intended, they had hurt and still do and how inappropriate the timing of those comments were. I have also told him that I am pissed that keeping it to myself has put me in the wrong, that I couldn't feel the same about his wife knowing she had judged us in that way, and that HE was the one who asked me if his wife had upset me in any way. She got him to ask me, because she thought I wouldn't tell him and would be embarrassed into accepting her request.Why else would she not have messaged me herself, if she was truly wondering? Because, she already had a clue as to why I did not answer her request.He asked me for the reason. I gave an honest answer and felt better for it. I don't know what else I was supposed to say. If he doesn't want to speak to me anymore I suppose I just have to accept it. Families seem to thrive on blame, but I do not want to hurt any more. Every time I feel we move forward with trying to live without Sophie, something always drags us back to the fresh pain of those early days.I hate it when somebody wrongs you and yet they try to make it all your fault.
  I woke up this morning feeling that life couldn't get much worse. Then I realised how cold the house was and remembered the broken boiler. I opened the curtains to a world of white, a blizzard of snow and thought of Arthur trying to get home from Uni today in this weather. But tonight I am hoping he will be here and we can skype RC in Malta and be our happy little family and forget about everything else.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Archbishops and Passports

This week has been a mad rush in preparation for Hubby RC's annual trip to Malta. Dusting off his trusty suitcase, locating his sunhat, passport, medical card, suncream and generally organizing his wardrobe is my department. RC is incredibly laid back and although I know he is capable of getting stuff done eventually, I like to fastidiously plan and pack. By Tuesday he had his Euros, had bought new training shoes and was sorting paints, brushes and soldiers just in case there was time for some painting. I had located and ironed all his clothes, making sure to include him as it was packed,to avoid any awkward moments if he was asked if he packed the case himself. The only item eluding me were his sunglasses. Now it seems like such a long time since we have had sunshine, I know I have seen them somewhere. So much stuff has been moved around lately in my spring clean that I cannot think where I saw them last. I had to admit defeat, but know that it will bug me until I find them.
  The weekend had turned out quite busy. Saturday RC had tried to get his bike repaired as it needs a new back wheel. The shop didn't have one in stock, so RC asked me to take it back down on Wednesday when they should have one in. He went shopping and then stacked hay up the pony field for his mum. Sunday RC was completely zonked and took to his bed for most of the day, I did all the usual cooking, cleaning, dog walks but also had to contend with the antisocial rabbits. At weekends I like to strip out their runs and houses and freshen them up with fresh hay and sawdust, they don't take kindly to this, often attacking the broom or my boots.
 While all was quiet Sunday afternoon I went to see a friend to ask her to sign my passport application. I have been so nervous filling in this form,as I have never held a passport before and do not want to hold the process up by filling in anything in the wrong way. I had gone down to the train station Friday morning to get the photos done, they were horrible, I looked like a criminal.RC is desperate to book our honeymoon, but we have been told to wait,until I have definitely got the passport. Forms completed,armed with every bit of documentation I could find,I headed to the post office Monday morning and paid the person at the counter to go through the form and check all my documents before they were sent, in order to cut down on any mistakes. I now have to wait about six weeks to find out if they will just give it to me or if I will get called in to do an identification interview. Apparently middle aged people getting their first passports are extremely suspicious.
 Well wednesday finally came at 5.30 in the morning and I had to say goodbye to RC for a whole week. He had a terrible cold which made me worry all the more. "I feel fine", he kept on saying in a croaky voice. Well, I told him, he better hope they didn't decide to scan for temperatures as he would be coming home. He went off happy enough and from the texts and blogs I have read got better real quick with double breakfasts and his favourite cake shops.
 Back home ,the things that go wrong as soon as dad is away, began in earnest. First, after rushing the dog walk to get RC's bike to the shop to be fixed, the part had not come in. The shop is shut on Thursday, so fingers crossed they will fix it Friday. Youngest son Ira managed to shred an ethernet cable he uses for his desk top computer, I fitted a spare through the house, still not working properly, ordered a new one and Cicely slept through the delivery, so no cable. The post office wanted me to take a two hour bus ride to collect it, but I went online and found I could request a free redelivery as long as someone answers the door this time.The only day they can deliver is Saturday and Arthur comes home from uni then. I have to meet him at the station,so am hoping it is delivered before then. I have been preparing for his visit all week.
 This morning(Thursday) I had planned to go to Canterbury to get last minute things whilst the bike shop is shut. I was already awake listening to the radio at 6am, as RC had texted me at 5am, to tell me he had just woken up. I think it is 7am there.They were telling people not to go into Canterbury today unless they had to. The new Archbishop was being enthroned, Prince Charles, David Cameron and all the bishops from around the world were congregating there today. Oh great, the one day I need to go. I bit the bullet and once dogs and kids were sorted,grabbed the bus. The empty bus, all the way to Canterbury! There were lots of people in the city centre,all dressed as if they were going to a wedding, police everywhere and lots of noise down near the Cathedral. But I didn't have to queue in a shop or for a bus. In fact there were four of us on the bus home. Great. I'm glad I ignored their advice, as everyone else had heeded it, there was little traffic on the way back.
 Now I just need to juggle Friday chores a bit to fit in all the things I need to do. Cicely needs me to come with her for a couple of hours to Whitstable, dog walks, blitz bathroom, get Arthur's bed ready, get shopping, collect bike(god willing), do ironing,start to make RC's secret Easter present................

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Friend In Need

 When I was growing up the adults would talk in hushed tones,about people in the family who had done something shameful or had fallen out with other members of the family. Every family had someone who was not on talking terms with someone else. Usually it would be something that was said many years ago,that had been too hard to forgive and so had festered causing embarrassment and bad feelings at family gatherings.
 I have a younger brother, he struggled with the idea of monogomy for several years. My mum learnt early on to never address girls on the phone by their first name, just in case Casey had become Lacey but Casey didn't know that yet. He had a marriage that was turbulent, they lost a baby and it ended badly. Then he met a woman who changed that. She already had a young child,was pregnant with another but the father didn't want it, so she needed somewhere to stay. She shared the house with my brother as friends at first, then later they got together, they married and eventually had a child of their own. This woman was different from his previous relationships. She was intelligent, good with money(he is not), seemed to tame my brother making him responsible. I liked her, she was kind, genuinely cared for my brother.
 Over the years we had family gatherings, our children played together. They moved away, but we would see them from time to time, catch up. Then our eldest daughter died, part of helping our kids to carry on ,was taking them to visit their grandparents. We stayed with my parents, did the zoo, swam, played tennis. One day my mum pulled me aside to warn me about something odd that had happened on their last visit to my little brother's. We were due to stay with them for a few days so she thought I should know.My sister in law had gone into a long tirade about how we had not looked after my daughter properly,should have done more to save her. My mum had been shocked, hurt and told her that under no circumstances was she to repeat what she had said when we visited. I was confused, I couldn't imagine her being so cruel, about us and to my mum too, when she had just lost her first grandchild.
 No more was said, my brother picked us up and took us on the drive to his house. When we arrived my brother was embarrassed, nothing had been prepared for our visit. The house was messy, there was no beds made up for us,no grocery shopping had been done. When his wife came home they rowed like we weren't even there, she didn't want us there. We were stranded hundreds of miles from home and not welcome. The next couple of days were some of the worst I ever went through. My daughter had only been dead a few weeks, we needed support, stability. We tried one day out to a farm,we had to take two cars, I got to share with my sister in law. I spent two hours being subjected to how I hadn't done enough for my daughter, how if it were her daughter she would still be alive, how we were not welcome in her house,how they couldn't afford to feed us all and now she had to drive us all to a day out she didn't want to go on.When we reached the farm I took my husband aside and told him that we were to pay our own way even if my brother wanted to treat us, I would explain later.
 I was so glad to leave that house. We visited my other brother and his wife, they were kind, good to the kids. We went back to my parents house and I told my mum what had been said. I was angry and upset.She told me not to tell my brother what had been said in the car. Their relationship was in trouble and it might tip it over the edge. So I said nothing,but I hated her for what she had said and for when she had said it to me.
Time went on, I didn't have much contact with them, if a family event came up, I just bit my tongue. My dad would read me the riot act about not starting an argument, but it was uncomfortable. Over time I learned to be polite, they lived so far away I didn't have to deal with it. Then I lost my mum, followed by dad and contact between my brother and I was sporadic at best.
 A few months ago, I joined facebook, to keep in touch with family and loved that my little brother and I could laugh and share stuff like we did years ago. My sister in law sent me a friend request, I ignored it, a few months went by. Today, I got a private message from my brother asking me why I had ignored her request, had she upset me in some way? I had to sit and think long and hard about my answer. Should I forgive and forget, call her a friend again? I can't forget,I don't know if I will ever forgive and any friendship we had should have prevented her from saying the things she did.Nearly eight years have gone by since this happened, even though I knew that a day would come when I would have to deal with it, I was shocked at how bad it still hurt and how angry I still felt.I decided to be truthful with my brother without going into details.
"I knew one day you would ask me this.Several years ago Jackie said some things about the way we dealt with Sophie's illness which we and mum found very upsetting.I wanted to have it out with her,but mum asked me to leave it, so I did. If there is a lack of sisterly love on my part this is why. Sorry."
I haven't heard back from my brother, but I am relieved to have got it off my chest. I felt annoyed that something that had caused me a lot of grief over many years, had not even occurred to her, as a reason why I would not want to be her "friend". 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Romans and Sloths

The weather certainly has taken a turn for the worst. Last week we had a couple of reasonably good Spring like days with blue sky visible, sunshine and no rain or snow. You don't realise how much you crave the sun until it's been covered by clouds for weeks on end.Today we woke to freezing temperatures,strong winds and snow flurries. The dogs were not impressed and couldn't get home fast enough, Custard spending most of the walk doing a sideways crab march to avoid the cold wind blowing on his rear end.
 MIL was really feeling the cold this morning, she was frozen. So,we sat in the kitchen and had hot tea and MIL devoured the last chocolate chip muffin. She told me how she was working her way through her rather large box of Mother's day chocolates at home. I had already cleaned the kitchen before she came, so was busy setting up the laptop, diet cherry cola and notepad for later when all my chores were done.I was keeping an eye on the weather,snow flurries meant I would not be hanging out the two loads of washing now. When MIL left, the wind felt bitter,so I put on several layers before heading out for dog walk 2. Frou and Brin were setting a brisk pace and I found myself pulled in two different directions, by the girls who wanted this walk over as soon as possible and Custard,who wanted to loiter and leave text messages on every tree.Back home, leads off, quick drink and jump into warm beds. I probably won't be seeing anything of the rabble until this afternoon, when walk time looms again.
  The weekend was fantastic. Saturday, I got to spoil Hubby RC, a day of wargaming. Friday I pulled the kitchen table out to it's full extent, moved chairs out the way and RC started to set up his scenery.In the morning I had done a special shop for favourite beers,fresh burgers from the butcher's counter,fresh baps, bacon and swiss cheese. RC had said burgers and chips would be fine for lunch but I wanted to make sure they were really good.They seemed to really enjoy their game, I made them lunch, beers were consumed, battle resumed.Several hours of Romans later, RC's friend departed to do Mother's day shopping and RC carefully packed his soldiers and scenery back in their boxes.He had really enjoyed the game, so I suggested he make it a regular thing.
 RC's birthdays used to be big games that took a whole day with several friends, I used to love cooking for them. A lot of them were divorced or batchelors and appreciated home cooked food, I liked to theme the food according to who was fighting.They had a great wild west game once that just needed tequila, beers and a huge mexican spread. I'm hoping that we can do that again now. It's great when the house is full of people having a good time, I miss it.
 Sunday I was a complete sloth.Comfy lounging outfit, fluffy slippers, no dog walks,tea with MIL and a bacon roll compliments of RC. I only sneaked a couple of bits of housework in when RC wasn't looking and they were to do with washing, to make sure all Ira's uniform was clean and dry for school.Sunday afternoon, I was on the sofa with loads of cushions(a bug bear of RC's), big furry cover,table for laptop and copious amounts of chocolate, cherry cola and dvd box set.I swear I have never been this lazy in all my life (I couldn't even sit still after giving birth). I ate things I really shouldn't of, drank way too much fizzy and my lowest point was letting RC change the disc for me, because he offered and it was all the way across the room.I did make it to the table for pasta, although I must admit, I mentally had to slap myself when a vision of a lap tray appeared in my mind. I did however slink back to my perfect nest after the meal and blocked out the sound of dishes being done that would normally have sent me back to the kitchen feeling guilty.
I don't know how any one can watch television for a long time like that. I was absolutely exhausted, we hardly watch television, I prefer radio. I'm sure I've rotted a few brain cells. I woke up this morning with a sugar hangover,me and chocolate will not be talking for a few weeks, I'm definitely more of a savoury person.My back will take a few days to forgive me for sitting down, doing nothing, for so long. But, I have dreamed of a day like that for so long. Circumstances have never allowed me to totally check out and be looked after like a queen. RC has always tried to give me time like this, but family commitments have always made it an unfair workload for him, that I could not happily let him deal with alone.Our lives have changed so much these last few weeks,it's like being young and hopeful again, with time to devote to each other. Roll on honeymoon!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

I Wish I'd Looked After My Teeth

When we took on Hubby RC's Uncle's dog, we knew she was old and had not been to a vet regularly. She had lived in a house with two heavy smokers,hardly ever had fresh bedding and due to confusion had not been fed the right amount she had required. She was quite a sad old girl and we thought we would take her home, clean her up,give her a lovely new bed next to the radiator and let her live out her last days well fed and well loved. However, once bathed,brushed and fed she changed. She was more alert, she didn't smell as much and revelled in the squishy softness of her new bed.
  Over the last couple of weeks we noticed that she had started to smell a bit again. She was eating ok, seemed really well but I was concerned so decided to take her to the vet for a check up. Frou was due to have her yearly check and immunisations, so I booked a double appointment for Thursday morning.. Hubby RC took Custard, our labrador for his long walk before he set off for work, so that I could take the two girls for a long walk to the vets in town. Everything was fine on the way down, Frou was quiet in the waiting room,but kept a suspicious eye on the crated cats that were pulling faces at her from their owners' laps. Frou went first and was given a clean bill of health, not even squeaking when she got the needle. Then it was Bryn's turn.
 As soon as Kirsty, our vet was down at eye level with her she could smell her. She gave her a good examination. Bryn had an abcess at the back of her mouth. Kirsty believed it had been there for several months and had just recently burst, hence the smell.Unusually her face had shown no sign of swelling,she had shown no sign of any discomfort when eating, so it had remained undiscovered for some time. When FIL had looked after Bryn, he had become convinced that she could only have soft food and would not allow chewies and hard biscuits, so the food had caked around her teeth causing plaque and decay. A couple of years before she had had to have several teeth removed and he had continued on with the soft food believing that was the right thing to do.So now poor Bryn had to have antibiotics and face another operation on Monday.
 The pills that we were given were what my nan would have called"horse pills",great big enormous things. Twice a day, with or without food, just as long as she takes them, they said. There was a big packet of ham in the fridge at home that I could see coming in handy in my scheme to dupe her into taking them.(I have never been able to do the shove the pill in the back of the throat and hold their mouth shut thing.)My cunning scheme worked,two days in Bryn stopped being smelly,just in time for the wake and didn't seem to question why a whole packet of ham was being generously portioned out to her twice a day.
 Monday,I took her down to the vets early. I felt slightly nervous as general anaesthetic in older dogs can be risky, but this needed to be done for her health. I was told to ring at half past three.Back home, Frou, who never passes up an oppurtunity had taken over Bryn's large bed, assuming I had lost Bryn on a walk. I didn't get to collect Bryn until half past five and assumed she would be groggy and need to come home on the bus. As soon as the rather substantial bill was settled, she proceeded to drag me all the way home, putting as much distance between her and the tooth fairies as possible. They had taken out another five. I did quip to the nurse as I was settling the bill,when she told me how many,"Did you leave her any?"I thought she was only having one out. She did remarkably well to cover that distance after her operation. There was only one moment when she stopped to squat for the toilet that I thought she looked a bit wobbly and might keel over face first in the dirt, but she shook it off and raced for home.
 Today is Thursday and I was again back at the vets for Bryn's first check up since her operation. After three days of soft food, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, she is once again deemed in perfect health. Hard food can slowly be reintroduced as she has healed so well. Chewies and biscuits a must.We walked home in the pouring rain and this time it was me who wanted a bus, but Bryn was enjoying her walk, so I endured another drenching and headed home where there was a cup of tea with my name on it.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cream Junkies

The weekend had begun with a funeral,but as the best china was packed away and the buffet leftovers were being sealed and wrapped our minds turned to Saturday. Hubby RC was doing a fine job making sure that one of the bottles of red didn't go to waste and seemed happy to go along with any restaurant that was suggested.The original plan had been to have my birthday a day late, go shopping and have a meal. However youngest son has a lot of exams coming up this week and needed study time. So it was decided we would do just the meal and postpone the shopping till Wednesday when my daughter has a day off of college. A clever strategy on youngest son's part as he hates shopping.
  Saturday the weather was a lot milder than we had seen for a while. We set off a little after lunch to the restaurant hoping to have missed the rush. The roads were very quiet for a Saturday on the way there and we thought how great it would be if the restaurant was quiet too. Alas,all the drivers missing from the roads were parked in the car park. It was the busiest we had ever seen it, but we hung in there lounging in the bar,until our table was called.We really only eat out on special occasions such as birthdays, so as the restaurant periodically changes dishes on the menu, there ensues great debate and turmoil over what to try. Unable to choose just one thing RC decided to go for the Ultimate Mixed Grill.A new accompanying sauce had appeared since last time, so he was quite enthusiastic to try this maple and whiskey sauce.
 I like to come to this restaurant because I have some foods that I am unable to eat since an operation a couple of years ago.They give substitutes instead of fries,creamed potates etc I can get fragrant rice, no matter what the dish. Also, the bread rolls are cooked on the premises throughout the day, I can only eat bread that has been very recently cooked. So if the rolls are just coming out of the oven, I can have rolls.Pasta is not something I think I would eat in a restaurant unless they made it themselves fresh. Dried pasta is like trying to digest concrete. Fresh pasta is perfect. (thank God for RC's culinary skills.) I like to have chicken with my rice and chose a dish that also gave me a couple of ribs.Cicely and Ira chose steaks. Ira being a fourteen year old boy, decided on a twelve ounce steak, I think it goes with the whole primal meat thing that RC often talks about. Some sort of passage of manhood thing.
 The meal was lovely, sitting chatting and laughing, catching up. I love to watch RC try something new, I feel that sometimes he should be jotting his thoughts of each mouthful down on a notepad for later contemplation.He pauses as he slowly gives each mouthful his full attention, analysing each different cut of meat's compatability with the sauce he has chosen.My son Ira, who is anti sauce on anything including ketchup on hot dogs and burgers, somehow was persuaded by RC to try the maple and whiskey sauce with his steak. He actually liked it and will apparently be having it the next time we go.This is a major milestone for him.RC was still slowly working his way through his meal when we had all finished.
 Drinks replenished, the task of choosing dessert. This is an easy one for me. I am not a great lover of desserts, profiterole with ice cream is about as mixed as I like things. Ira was beaten by his steak and opted for a coffee. Cicely and RC are cream junkies. RC chose one of  those massive disgusting desserts with meringe,cream and berries built up in layers. Cicely's was all shortbread, caramel and chocolate. I love when we are together like this, RC and the kids goof around, Cicely laughs at everything and Ira delivers fantastic one liners that have us in fits. When eldest son,Arthur is there we pretend to be the serious ones and roll our eyes at them. This sends Cissie ino fits and makes RC even naughtier. Arthur will sit there and say,"Which one is the adult did you say?" pointing across the table at the three naughty children, one of whom is 49. This just sets Cissie off again and we leave in a happy, chattering mass to go outside to wait for our taxi.
 I've learned through experience to treasure every moment with my children. I sometimes sit back and take a mental video image of moments like this, saving them to my memory. I try to absorb details,smells,sounds so I will forget nothing. I hope they realise how much I draw strength from watching them so happy,relaxed, knowing they are loved by their parents unconditionally.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Funerals and Birthdays

The day started at six, feeling groggy from a nasty cold that wanted me to go back to bed, I forced myself up. First I had to wake youngest son,who wanted to get some last minute revision in,for his biology exam today. Next the dogs needed their early morning scoot around the block for a wee. Coffee for son,who appeared to be auditioning for The Walking Dead. First rounds of chicken, sausage rolls and chipolatas into the oven. Hubby RC set about grating cheese and thinly slicing tomatoes and cucumber. A lovely card from RC with Boofle the knitted dog on, a favourite of mine. Chocolate and a gorgeous little lidded Le Creuset soup bowl.
 Then onto frying till crisp,tiny pieces of bacon,that will be added to cream cheese  and chives to make a filling for the tiny tortilla wraps. BIL cannot eat bread. Prawns,lettuce and sauce, then southern spiced chicken with mayonnaise and finely shredded lettuce. I'm sure he will be pleased. Youngest son gurgles something unintelligible, last bit birthday and thrusts envelope into my hand. Lovely card with "mum" and elephants playing peek a boo round the letters. Inside card, beautiful silver elephant earrings that I will wear today at FIL's funeral.
 I am a bit of a perfectionist, so when RC says the sandwiches wont fit on the trays as I wanted them too, I tell him it's because I cut the crusts to make them symmetrical. He looks dispondent at the thought of the extra work involved,but my OCD is telling me this is necessary, so I take to doing sandwiches and he switches to wraps.Soon the fridge is overloaded with trays that are garnished and looking pretty.Best china is washed and placed on the table with serviettes. My daughter emerges in her pyjamas and I set her to work putting my china cake stand together. Once carrot and cucumber sticks have been arranged around the houmous in a pretty blue and white china dish, there is time to have a coffee, while I wait for the garlic bread to cook. Youngest daughter is itching to give me her presents. First is the shampoo that I have been searching for, for ages. "Just a silly present". she says. The next is a rather nice sized box wrapped in pink polka dots. I open the top and peak inside. I'm overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness and generosity and burst into tears. You see for many years when things were really hard for us I coveted a beautiful red kettle that I imagined would sit perfectly on my range. But this thing of beauty was beyond my financial means, years later and out of debt with savings, I still could not feel comfortable spending such a large amount on something we didn't exactly need. I often would check when there was a sale, but it still bothered me how much it was. My daughter knowing that I would never treat myself, had taken it upon herself and just bought it. It may sound very sad to think an item like this would bring such pleasure and some people may have preferred jewellery or perfume. But to me it is a dream come true. It has pride of place in my kitchen and it will make dealing with FIL's funeral today so much easier, thinking how thoughtful it was.
  Today was a happy and a sad day all rolled into one. MIL who has been stoic since FIL passed,was overcome at the sight of his coffin. We sat in the chapel and I cuddled her up tight. I was so worried, as she seemed so broken. But then RC stepped up to do his eulogy and as he read MIL smiled and nodded, people laughed, the feeling in the chapel lifted. I was so proud of RC, his speech encompassed all aspects of his father's life and his long battle with mental illness, with love and kindness. Anecdotes from childhood were shared and brought laughter. By the time he was finished MIL was uplifted and renewed. I felt as though we could draw a line under those difficult years, say goodbye with a good feeling about him and move on. Thankyou RC. 
  There were rather a lot of people who made their way to the wake. I must have made a hundred cups of tea. BIL insisted on giving me lessons in how to make his cup of coffee just how he liked it. I spent all my time in the kitchen, making tea, a captive audience for Great Uncle Frank, who likes to be near the food. My daughter and aunt in law helped me wash and dry cups and plates to keep the table stocked. All in all a very successful day. BIL2 spoke to me in a civil manner, at least that seems a bit better, but Custard, our lab still growled at him at every opportunity. I'm afraid SIL still blatently snubbed me quite rudely,at the graveside. But what the hell, do I care? No the woman's a kook. Sorry slip of temper. It obviously still gets up my nose. So I stayed in the kitchen with Uncle Frank and pretended he hadn't told me all this at Christmas.Later SIL left after hugging RC and being oh so sweet. But it just slipped her mind to say goodbye. This is getting cynical and I'm trying not to go down that road.
  So now I am back to my birthday and having white wine, lemonade and orange juice all mixed up together in a big glass.Tying to fight off the lurgy,which is trying to take over and rob me of the last few hours left of my birthday.Goodnight everyone, I'm going to get another drink.