Most people when compiling a family tree work backward as far as possible. I've only been able to get back as far as great-great-grandparents so I made up for that by going sideways and starting exploring the vast number of cousins, first, second and third. At the beginning of this week, there were 1158 of us. Now there are 1159. Our fourth grandchild came into the world yesterday and she is Emily Anne. There are several Marthas in the family and quite a few named James, three Evies but, so far, only one Emily.
Snowdrops will be Emily's flower.
Emily will be a lucky girl, blessed with a big brother and two loving parents who waited a long while to meet their children.
I am so looking forward to holding this beautiful dark-haired child.
On the evening of the shopping trip, I received a phone call from Ganching requesting a favour. A very good friend of both her and London Sister had to return to Ireland because his mother had died and both my sisters were coming over for the funeral. Would I pick them up from the airport?
Would I go to the funeral?
In Ireland, funerals are generally held two days after the death unless of course, close relatives need to travel from afar in which case it might be three days until the burial. In country areas, the funeral is usually preceded by the wake. It is a very busy time for the bereaved.
I wouldn't be going to the wake but I would be trying to straighten up the house in preparation for my visitors. Swisser had stayed the night and the spare bed needed to be changed. I was starting to realise what life must be like for Kerry Sister who runs an Airbnb. After a quick and largely futile (four dogs, wet weather, and Bert) sweep and mop it was time to pick Ganching up. She had arranged with Our Joe to attend the wake outside the city of Armagh, a little over 60 miles away. That left my evening free to continue tidying the house but I was so exhausted from the previous day's outing that I fell asleep on the sofa.
My sister returned sometime around eleven o'clock and we stayed up until after midnight hemming funeral skirts and chatting. I checked my route on Google Maps and printed it out then went to bed feeling a little anxious about the next day's journey. I have a horror of lateness, the road was not familiar to me and a lot hinged on London Sister's plane being bang on time. I slept badly and woke far earlier than I needed to - maybe four hours shuteye. Not enough.
Still, my early start gave me an opportunity to have a sensible chat with myself and I was calm enough as we set off. The plane was dead on time and all was looking good. London Sister had printed out a far better itinerary than mine and she has the reputation of being an excellent navigator so I was feeling confident enough. Until I messed it up at the carpark. I couldn't figure out how to use a credit card to get out of the damn place. Panic bubbled up. But not to worry - my sisters were there.
You can do this Nelly! You can get out of the airport! You're doing great!
With this encouragement ringing in my ears, I gathered up two pounds and fifty pence and went to the parking office, explained my predicament (stupidity) paid over the cash and they raised the barriers. We were off!
And it all worked out well. We got to the church half an hour early. The service was sad but lovely and afterward had a delicious bowl of soup in the church hall. The priest sat beside us but didn't annoy us. Then this thing happened. A man, a very nice man, sat down beside me and informed me that his wife reads my blog. If she happens to be reading it now maybe she'll tell him how welcome I felt in that place I'd never visited before. And, seeing how decent and good his family are I would have loved to have known his mother.
In the many years I’ve known Swisser we have never gone shopping. It’s a very girly thing to do, don’t you think? That changed yesterday. Of course, being people of intellectual leanings, for I have two (mediocre) degrees and she is a professor, we couldn’t hit the shops before we had taken in an interesting exhibition of political cartoons in the Linenhall Library.
Nor could we begin sales-hunting until we had been for lunch at the John Hewitt. That was my first visit to this well-known pub and I really liked it. The food was delicious and the ambience most relaxed.
After lulling me into a sense of false security in Marks & Spencers, Swisser led me into a succession of shops, some of which I had never entered previously. In fact, I’d thought that old people might not even be allowed. But it turns out that even the trendiest of shops are only too delighted to welcome anyone in possession of money. My favourites were Zara and Urban Outfitters. I also discovered that I am an excellent stylist as all of the items that Swisser purchased were found and recommended by me. Despite dressing like a particularly dowdy farmer’s wife I am actually a fashionista at heart. Really, I am, I just don’t choose to wear it. Right, this minute I am rocking a purple Regatta fleece and Primark pyjama bottoms. This may not tick any fashion boxes but I am very happy and comfortable. And warm.
I bought a long-sleeved burnt orange thermal vest in Marks and Spencers and an oversized plum tartan shirt in Urban Outfitters. I won’t wear them together. Although I might if I feel like it. My choices for Swisser were,
Shift dress from The White House.
Vintage short navy jacket from Urban Outfitters. I advised a change of buttons but Swisser likes the originals.
Plum colored top from Zara.
All garments cost less than £50 in total.
Later that evening I heard that Swisser has very strong opinions about fleeces as they pollute the oceans. This is worrying as I own three fleeces and several fleece blankets. She said that it is OK if they are never laundered which is one of the things I liked about them - ease of washing and drying. She still has one but never washes it but worries if she wears it in the rain. Sometimes I wish Swisser wouldn't tell me these things.
People take different approaches to organising their stuff. One thing is constant - the more stuff a body owns, the harder that stuff is to organise.
We knew somebody once cleared his house regularly. His credo was - if he hadn't used it in the past year out it went.
Stuff can take you over. The trick is if you bring new stuff in then heave the equivalent amount of stuff out. Easier said than done.
Which brings me back to the Nessie problem. She is one of those people, as is her partner, to whom stuff flies like iron filings to a magnet. Got some unwanted stuff - Nessie will have that. The end result is that her house contains so much stuff that there is no room for a normal life to take place. Sit at the table to eat a meal? Impossible. The table is stacked high with stuff. Prepare a meal? Not possible. Food consists of uncooked items; the current favourite being scallion sandwiches. Neighbours do provide plated food but that is mostly fed to the collies.
Nessie has never thrown out a loaf paper in her life. There are tens of thousands of loaf papers stacked to the ceiling. What Hannah couldn't get over was the wall of cushions. Most people use cushions to add a little comfort to their lives. Nessie builds walls with cushions. Polystyrene carry out containers? Nessie never parts with these useful items. She'd use them under plant pots if she had room for plants.
I'd guess Nessie hasn't a clue what is in the boxes and bags of stuff that she has piled high to the ceiling. Somewhere in there, and it may never be found, is her mother's wedding ring. The same wedding ring that caused a massive fall-out with her sister Pearlie many, many years ago.
Stuff. Wedding rings. Loaf papers. Cushions. Nice wee tins. Buttons. Old magazines. Odds and ends of wool. Bits of scrap metal. Old clothes. Patchwork quilts. Books that we'll never open again. Clutter. Yours is shite. Mine is treasure.
Judy went back to see Kim today for a check-up and she's doing well. Her form has improved so the medication is working for her. I thought she'd be anxious when we drove into the car park but not a bit of her. Padded in ready to be friends with everyone. And delighted to see Kim again - even licked her face.
Time passes quickly for dogs. It seems no time since Judy was this small.
That's the first day we brought her home. Before she got into her jumping stride.
The following pictures are stills from a video. Judging by the size of Miss Martha Judy must have been under two years old. Her prime. Those jumping days are over now.
Martha was amazed!
Many dog years later lying around on damp grass chewing sticks. No wonder her joints are sore.
About a month ago Bert noticed Judy wincing when she jumped on to beds. We both put it down to a minor injury which was wishful thinking. She was also hesitant getting into the van and on walks, she was far more sedate. So five days ago we took her to the vet.
Judy has had little experience in the vet’s office. At first, she was so pleased – new lovely girls to schmooze with! But then - we left her! And those lovely girls stuck a sharp needle in her leg and she woke up in a pen, feeling groggy and all alone.
While she was sedated she had two X-rays and it turns out that she has moderate arthritis in one hip joint and mild in the other. She isn't even eight years old but the vet said that once a dog is over seven it is considered to be elderly.
So, she's on some kind of medication trial and goes back to the vet's office on Friday. Supposed to be taking it easy and she certainly has. She has had lots of extra attention and petting and the meds do seem to be helping her.
Zoe said we should think of giving her herbal medications too. There is a Dorwest pill, Garlic & Fenugreek Tablets For Dogs And Cats that our old dog Danny took and that seemed to do him a lot of good. He was still going strong in his seventeenth year when he died in a road traffic accident.*
Judy is a very loveable dog and there have been lots of inquiries regarding her wellbeing. Our friend Richard called the other day and told us of a very efficacious treatment that his brother had procured from Pets at Home for his ancient labrador. It seems the old dog is doing so well on it that our friend’s father has decided to start taking it too. The results have been very good and the old fellow has been rising every morning feeling as lithe as a sixteen-year-old. I wasn’t able to ascertain the name of this wonder drug but we have decided we will wait until our human guinea pig has been on the pills for at least two months before we follow his lead. Unless, as Richard says, his father starts running around the yard barking at birds in which case we might hesitate.
* Bert ran over Danny. We sometimes wonder if the old codger committed suicide. He was nearly blind and very deaf and the only eye-witness (Pearlie) said his death was immediate.
It seems remiss not to mark the first day of the year with a blog post so here we go.
How do I feel right now?
Tired and a bit overfed. We had a huge roast dinner last night which Jazzer and I cooked. She did the soup, the beef, and the roast potatoes. I did three vegetable dishes, Yorkshire puddings and a summer fruit crumble. A joint effort. Then there was too much alcohol and some terrible TV. Jools Holland's show wasn't too bad but it feels a bit of a cheat knowing that everyone there was pretending it was the last day of the year. I mean, we weren't actually sharing the festivities with Beth Ditto, George McCrae and Adrian Dunbar. And, by the way, does anyone else think that Ed Sheeran is a bit bland?
What's been going on?
Leitrim Sister was up for a couple of days. As always, I enjoyed her company. It was horribly cold while she was here but we didn't let it keep us back.
What's happening tomorrow?
Going to Ikea with Zoe and the girls. I'll be buying James some new bits for his train set.
What am I going to do next?
Going to phone James' house to find out what he needs then I'm for having a G&T and maybe a bit of Netflix. Godless is good.