Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Oven Door

Yes, I really am going to blog about my OVEN DOOR!!!

How long is it since you cleaned your oven door? (nb, if it's recently then that is a rhetorical question).

Well, had you asked me that question yesterday morning then I would have had to confess that it's about ...  Ummm, maybe 5 years or so?

Anyway, for some unfathomable reason I decided I WOULD clean mine yesterday.

I didn't think to take any 'before' photos but if I had I would have had to confess that embarrassingly it looked very similar to this:

That's pretty disgusting isn't it?

At least 5 years of grease and baked on gunk ...

So I googled the best way to clean it (bearing in mind I had no oven cleaner and didn't want to go out and buy some).

Loads of posts and videos extolling the virtues of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar which you apparently mixed to a paste, painted on and 10 minutes later VOILA you wipe it off and all the gunk comes with it!!!

If you don't have bicarb you can use baking soda (powder), its got bicarb in it.

If you don't have either well then you'll have to go shopping!

I followed the instructions, left it for 20 minutes (it was VERY dirty).

Wiped and ...

And, well, NOTHING really!!!  A rather greasy and grubby paper towel and the door was still just as dirty!

I got a knife and started scraping leaving a lovely pattern all over the door.

I went to the shed and got a paint scraper and got to work.

More lovely patterns but still no actual glass on show.

Then I remembered I had a razor blade given to me by a friend of SD's who sprays cars.  They use them to tidy up any paint accidentally sprayed on to windows and he let me have a couple when I was painting the pine cabinet (which I WILL blog about some day!).

By this time the bicarb mix had been sitting for quite some time and had dried so I sprinkled more vinegar on top and wiped it around and left it for a few minutes.

Then I got to scraping with the razor blade.

It took off a layer of gunk and grease but you STILL couldn't see through the glass!

God my oven door was MINGING!!!

To cut a long story short - I repeated this procedure about 4 times over the space of two hours taking another layer off each time and then softening the next layer with the bicarb/vinegar mix.

By the end of it I had serious cramp in my hand - my shoulder was killing me from all the scraping - my back had completely seized up from bending over and I had a blister on my thumb!


I also had THIS:

A sparkling glass door!

Impressed?? ?

Miss Mac was!

Actually, what Miss Mac said was that she didn't realised you were SUPPOSED to be able to see through the door OR that the oven actually had a light in it ...

But dilemma!!!

Do I now clean my oven door on a regular basis so it never gets like that again OR (because despite the aches and pains AND the blister it was quite therapeutic), do I leave it for another 5 years so I can do it all over again?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Your Once, Twice, Three Tmes A ...

Pain in the arse!!!

I know, I know, you thought I'd gone all Lionel Richie on you for a moment there didn't you?

Fear not, I'm still far more Punk than Funk!

My niece is down for a few days but better than that she had brought her brand new baby with her.

Oh my God she is SO adorable that I've COMPLETELY forgiven her for making me a Great Aunt.

She is so adorable that I've also so far completely forgotten to take any photos, too busy rubbing my cheek against her head and squishing her little body against mine and SNIFFING her.

My niece is pretty adorable too so when the subject of Easter came up and we got to talking about Hot Cross Buns and she asked if I would make some I foolishly said YES.

It's YEARS since I've made Hot Cross Buns and I forgotten that there was a very good reason for that.

I'd actually forgotten how to make the things too so I googled it.

And I broke my golden rule when cooking ...

NEVER pick the first recipe you google!

There are dozens of different recipes for the buns.  What I should have done is read a few and pick the easiest - after years of creaming butter and sugar together I discovered the all in one Victoria Sponge recipe and not only does it make the best sponge it's so much easier.  I should have remembered that!

But no, I picked the one that said:

1. Make the dough (I won't give you all the details of what goes in them).

2. Kneed the dough.

3. Prove the dough.

4. Knock the dough back.

5. Prove the dough for a second time.

6. Cut and shape the dough into buns.

7. Rest the dough.

8. Prove the dough for a THIRD time.

9. Make a paste for the crosses on top.

10. Pipe crosses on the thrice proved dough.

11, Bake the buns.

12. Glaze the buns with warmed golden syrup (a new one on me, I've always used apricot jam before)

Two and a half fricken hours later I finally had Hot Cross buns that I could have bought for a quid at any supermarket, a kitchen knee deep in flour and bits of dough setting like concrete on my kitchen counter!

I'd like to say that on the plus side they taste far superior to the shop bought ones but the truth is I'm not sure (after all that bloody work) that they do ...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

If ...

I expect half of you saw the title and expected me to start waxing lyrical about Rudyard Kipling.

The other half will have just assumed I got half way through typing it and got distracted by shiny stuff.

Well, no to both of those.

This is the Birthday post!

Yes, yesterday was my Birthday.  Another year older, another year wiser ...

A lot of people asked me if I'd had a good Birthday and it got me thinking.

If I measured my Birthday by how many cards I got then yes, it was a good Birthday.  The mantle above the fireplace is full of cards mostly from the usual suspects and a few unexpected ones which was really lovely.

If I calculated how good the day had been by the number of people on Facebook who wished me happy Birthday then also yes, over 50% of my Facebook friends took the time to leave me a message and I'd say that's a pretty good average.

If I look at the presents I received then again, yes.  I had so many lovely and thoughtful presents, I feel very spoilt.

If I count the number of Birthday cakes I was given.  Well, I had 4 -  I know, FOUR!!!  That's 3 more than anyone could hope for and actually far more than I can eat so I think I will be offering cake to my friends for the next few days.

If I judge how good the day was by the weather then I really was blessed with a beautiful day of Spring sunshine and I sat in the sun for a while drinking tea and soaking up the warmth as all around me the garden showed signs of bursting into life.

If it's all about the food then It was definitely a winner.  Miss Mac took me out to a local Italian family run restaurant and we had the most fabulous meal.

If I consider the alternative to turning another year older then I know that I am very lucky to still have my health with no real worries.  I am fit, I am healthy and there is nothing I cannot do.

But it's not any one of those things in isolation is it?

It's all of those things wrapped up in a big ball that makes me so lucky and means that yes, I really DID have a good Birthday because of those people who care about and love me enough to make those things happen.

I am truly blessed :-)

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Importance Of NOT Being Earnest

My phone rang yesterday lunchtime.  Not my mobile phone but the house phone.  The number that very few people have because it's easier to hand out my mobile and people are far more likely to get me on it.

When the home phone rings its usually a wrong number and someone wanting a local letting agency who have a very similar number to me.  If it's not that then it's most probably SD's Mum who only phones me rarely but might perhaps want me to pick her up something from town.

It wasn't SD's  Mum or a wrong number, it was my next door neighbour ...

I haven't seen my next door neighbour for several weeks.  Back in January she had a knee replacement and had been spending her recovery time with her daughter who lives 60 odd miles away.

It's been a bit of a relief to be honest.

Now of course there is a back story.

I don't like my next door neighbour.

If that sounds a bit harsh then I should explain that there are very few people I would say I dislike and, I do have good reason not to like her.

We have history.  In fact she and her (now deceased) husband have history with almost everybody locally.  They were not a pleasant couple always finding fault with others, always complaining about anything and everything and often behaving aggressively towards other people.

Mostly I kept out of their way and ignored them but we have had the occasional run in.

The husband died 10 or 12 years ago and things settled down.  Without her partner in crime my neighbour seemed to loose her fire and relish for argument and we lived side by side in relative peace.

She often seemed to go away either to visit her daughter or be on holiday.

For a long time she had a friend, Earnest who spent a lot of time helping her with things.  I'd see him working in her garden or doing repairs around the house or bringing in shopping.

I liked Earnest.  We always stopped to chat.  His health wasn't good but he seemed happy to have someone to look after.  I always felt that although it appeared that Earnest didn't really get a fair share of the benefits of friendship it didn't matter to him because it gave him purpose and some kind of companionship.

Whatever it was it seemed to work for them both and that's all that matters.

About a year ago Earnest health deteriorated and he had to go into a nursing home.

After that my neighbour took to calling around to ask me to help her with little things like taking the rubbish out, changing the battery in her smoke alarm, reading her electric meter, picking up a prescription from the doctor etc.

Well, I still didn't like the woman but I'm not an unkind person so I did the things she asked me to do.

Just before Christmas I was helping her with something and she told me that she was due to have a knee replacement in January.  She had clearly been struggling for some time although she was still able to walk and drive the stairs were a struggle and she had been in pain.

She said that she was unhappy and lonely, that she just wanted to die.

Of course I felt sorry for her.  She was clearly very unhappy.  I pointed out the benefits of the knee replacement, that she should be far more mobile once it was done.  I asked her about the possibility of moving nearer her daughter and suggested that she should think seriously about such a move.

Nothing seemed to make her feel better and I was somewhat at a loss to know what to suggest.

I asked her if she had seem Earnest lately.  No, she told me, it's too difficult to go and see him.

I felt a little less sympathetic when she said this.  She seemed perfectly able to go visiting other friends who she stayed with regularly and to also go on holiday to Majorca a few weeks previously.  I couldn't help thinking that poor Earnest had clearly outlived his usefulness...

Anyway, until yesterday there had been 6 peaceful weeks without a phone call.

The voice at the end of the phone yesterday sounded desperate.  Can you come and help me she said.  I don't know what to do ...

Of course I went straight round.  She was tearful and shaky and I felt sorry for her again.

My friend asked me to leave she told me.  I don't know why.  I don't know what to do.  I don't have any food in the house.  I want to die.

I told her not to think like that.  I asked her what she needed.

I went home and made her a cup of tea and a teacake, sat down with her and made a shopping list.  Brought in all her bags from her car and talked to her for a while.

Can yo go and stay with your daughter I asked.

She told me to leave last week she told me.

Can I come and spend some time with you this evening?

Now I REALLY don't want to go down THAT road.  I do feel sorry for her but I can't pretend that it makes me like her any better and I don't want to start something that I don't want to do and won't be able to stop.

I told her (truthfully) that SD and I were busy.  We had to go shopping and then would be going to see his parents.  She was very upset and almost begged me to cancel.

I felt under a huge amount of pressure to do that but I stuck to my guns, I had things I needed to do!

The bottom line is that SD's parent although fantastic ARE in their 80's.  They both still drive and they manage very well but they DO need a little help and support.  In time they may need more and I am happy to give them anything they need because they are good, kind, loving people who I have a huge amount of respect and love for.

I also have my own parents.  Although they don't live with me they also need my help from time to time.  My step dad is 86 and amazing.  Still active and out and about every day bu Mum is less so.  She needs a certain level of care and while I'm not expected to provide this there are time (especially when she needs to go out and I'm the only one able to push the wheelchair) that they need me.  My sister has ongoing health issues and I need to be on hand if she every needs any help.  Again, she is fantastic and carries on through really difficult times but she is my family and comes first.

I don't need or want the responsibility of someone else but I feel it's being thrust upon me.

I popped round later and took her some of my milk and teabags to tide her over along with a sandwich to make sure she had eaten something and I'm going to see her later this morning.  I have her shopping for her and I will see if there is anything else she needs.  I won't abandon her despite my personal feelings but I will not become her second Earnest.

I asked for her daughters phone number last night as she said she had been phoning her but she hadn't picked up.  I left a message saying I was very concerned about her mother and could she call me.  That was at about 6pm last night, she hasn't called me back.

Perhaps she too has had enough.  I know my neighbour stayed with her after the operation.  She told me last night that she had asked her to leave a week ago which is when she went to stay with her friend.  I don't know what the circumstances were when she asked her to leave.  My neighbour claims she has no idea why her friend asked her to leave yesterday, that it was sudden and abrupt and for no reason.  I'm not sure she told me the full story ...

Anyway, that is where we are now and I really don't know what to do.

When I've seen her this morning I will try her daughter again.

If she is still saying she wants to die I think I will see if I can speak to her doctor and see if there is any help she can be provided with.

Like I said, I won't abandon her but I will not be Earnest!

A brief update: I have spoken to my neighbours daughter who sounds like a lovely lady.  She told me that her mother has been making threats to kill herself since she was about 21 (she is now 60) and she feels it is a tool to get others to do things for her and, as such, to try not to take too much notice of it.  She explained that her mother had been with her for almost 2 months whilst recovering from her knee op and was now far more mobile than she lets on.  The reason her friend asked her to leave was because she expected him to do everything for her despite them being the same age and he just couldn't cope any longer.  The bottom line is that I have said I will continue to give a certain level of support but I would be firm about how far that support would go.  The daughter is going to arrange for the supermarket to deliver food etc and will try to come to see her this weekend.  I've said that if she has any concerns she should ring me and I will do the same but I think we both agree that (although the words were never actually said) my neighbour can be very manipulative and draining on those around her and it needs to be made very clear to her that it won't be tolerated. So THAT'S where we are right now. I've got to admit, I'm not looking forward to the next call I get from her and I anticipate our next conversation not being comfortable but the line needs to be drawn very clearly before things get out of hand.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Crap And Councillors

Having a bit of a poke around the blog and I found this post from a few years back.

It made me giggle so I thought I'd share it and see if it made you giggle too.

This evening I attended a council meeting.

For those of you who don't know, I belong to an action group for our local park.

We do a little fund raising.  A little bulb planting. A little bench painting ect.

Little things that make our park a nicer place and ensure that the local council have a vested interest in keeping it looking good ie WE KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE!!!

God councilors are (for the most part) boring old farts!

I went along with Den. I shall call him Den, not necessarily because that's his name but because that's what I choose to call him.

In fact, I shall call him Dirty Den or DD or ...  no ...  I shall call him Double D!!!

Ok, Double D (which is NOT his real name) and I rocked up at about 6:20 for a 6:30 start.

He is a truly crap driver btw with a truly crap car.

I got in the bastard thing, went to shut the door and the whole door panel damn near came off in my hand (my bloody finger nail DID come off!!).

He also drove half the way so busy slagging off the Christmas lights in town (they aren't THAT bad) that he totally forgot to turn HIS lights on.

Anyway, crap driver with a shitty car he may be but I'm really rather fond of him and I love that fact that he's so far out of place in a council meeting it's like being there with an alien from another planet and that cheers me up no end.

Like I said, they are a bunch of boring farts.

Double D kept asking what I was scribbling on my note pad before the meeting had even started.

Blog fodder I hissed (he has NO idea what a blog is bless him).

Have you seen his braces?

Pull those babies any higher and he'll be wearing his testicles as earings!

Better still, twang them and see if his nipples fly off said Double D.

 I snorted VERY loudly at that point not realising that as I was leaning forward I was depressing the talk button on my microphone.

 I sooo wanted to take pictures of them all for you.

That's another thing!!

The damn room was set up like the House of Commons. All state of the art whatnots, no WONDER the bloody roads are full of pot holes, I SEE where my council tax goes!!

Anyway, I digress ...

I'd love to just photocopy and scan my scribbles for you  complete with doodles but they are so bad even I struggle to decipher them.

It started off with a friendly debate about when they would be getting their year book (the councilors bible that tells them all the meeting dates, who's who, who THEY are ect).

It transpired that a couple had already got them.  Much 'poor show' and 'ye gads' followed as those who had one flourished them and those who didn't looked on in envy.

That was until it transpire that this year THERE WAS NO RIBBON!!

What effing ribbon?

The one to place in between the pages so you don't lose your place of course.

They seemed to lose some of their kudos after that and much grumbling and threats of 'having words' were uttered.

Apparently it was a money saving initiative.

OF COURSE, they have to pay for f*cking state of the art conference rooms SOMEHOW don't they?

Then there was the discussion about the clocks in the room.

One told the correct time, the other appeared to be stuck at 5 to 5.

'Wasn't that the time Blue Peter used to start?' Said the mayor (I shit you not, it was the mayor!)

No, said Cllr ESP (and yes, those ARE his real initials;) That was Cracker Jack.

The magistrate at the back (who had been peacefully dozing) suddenly piped up, 'we have to pay for our own effing year books you know, you should think yourselves lucky!.

She then went promptly back to sleep for the rest of the meeting.

The Chair, cllr f*ckwit  (yeees, that's HIS real name too :) apologised for sounding like he came from Wolverhampton but he had a slight cold (difficult one that if you dont know what a Wolverhampton accent sounds like)

They then discussed the merits of having a calender printed next year.

Ooh, we were going to do that piped up the deputy mayor but the cost was astronomical so we are having a series of tea towels printed instead (I shit you not!!;).

Briefly the possibility of having the cllrs do it WI style, ie naked was considered but it was generally agreed that no one really wanted to see them at all ...  ever ...  even fully clothed let alone in the buff .

This was all by the way BEFORE the meeting proper started.

We were there to discuss the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and to ensure that events didn't encroach or overlap.

Woe betide anyone trying to steal a  rise over the Eggbuckland egg throwing competition or the Welland wheelbarrow race with (chortle) REAL wheelbarrows!!

Personally I thought the Wellington wife wanging competition and the Thurloxton toast tossing events sounded like MUCH more fun. (I may or may not be lying about any or ALL of this btw;)

They then started banging on about lighting the beacons which was all a little boring tbh.

Should they just be official ones or could we all build bloody great bonfires in our back gardens?

Historically they would have been lit at the top of churches but sadly health and safety and insurance ect pretty much rules that out these days.

I did have a little chuckle when concerns were expressed that this bureaucracy, gone mad might,  'weaken the beacon' :)

There was then a long diatribe from a bloke I could have sworn wasn't English but according to Double D it was just that he had so many plums in his mouth he could barely speak at all.

No idea what he was banging on about.

Midway through it all I had a sudden craving for Coronation Chicken.

WTF was that all about??

I haven't had Coronation Chicken since the 1987 Boxing Day turkey curry buffet at Aunty Alices (and even then it was turkey, not chicken) .

Anyway, I think I got down most of the salient points.

Perhaps I should just email this post to our secretary?

That'll teach her to go herself next time!

Monday, 6 March 2017

All Good Things

On a regular basis I tell Miss Mac to put the toilet seat down before she flushes - she never does.

Seriously, I say to her, don't you know that each time you flush you are leaning over the open bowl and droplets of water (and whatever you have just deposited) are in the air and you are BREATHING them in???

I was asked if I ironed my bed linen the other day.

Who DOES that?  Do YOU do that?  I don't iron anything and, if I did, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be bed linen ...

I've spent another morning sifting through paperwork.  How did I managed to accumulate SO much?  It's EVERYWHERE!

I've emptied the filing cabinet and I'm pretty sure that there was nothing new put in there in the last decade.  I've cleared out the large built in cupboard in my bedroom.  I've sorted through the bags on top of one of the wardrobes and I've carefully gone through every single one of the 15 drawers in the merchants chest in the dining room.

The only thing left to do is the very large cupboard under the stairs which has all manner of things in it from craft supplies to carrier bags full of god knows what (but mainly paperwork I think).

How did I let things get in such a mess?

It's been a gradual slide over many years and, on the plus side, I don't appear to have ever thrown anything out.  On the minus side - well, I don't appear to have ever thrown anything out ...

I'm throwing stuff out now!!!

Bags and bags of complete crap are being taken to the farm where SD kindly burns the on the bonfire for me and, with each bag of crap that leaves this house I feel like I'm gaining a little sanity.

So why?  Or maybe to be more precise, why now?

I'm divorcing Ex Lax that's why.

NB. Ex Lax acquired that moniker when I friend of mine mistyped his name as 'Lack' and it seemed so appropriate - it was but a short step to 'Ex Lax' the laxative as he is my Ex and he gives me the sh**s.

About time too I expect you are thinking and indeed it is!

Please don't think I haven't been down this road before, I have, TWICE!!!

Both times he refused to play ball and sign the papers and unfortunately due to the way divorce works I was unable to proceed without his cooperation.

Anyway, enough years have passed now that I can get on with it whether he likes it or not and, given that the universe hasn't reabsorbed him and he hasn't spontaneously combusted (both things it seemed reasonable to hope for) I am going for it so I can get on with my life with SD without the past hanging over us.

It's not going to be all plain sailing.  He is still digging his heels in (does he not WANT to be free of me too ...) and I have no doubt that there will be battles ahead as I try to untangle my life from his is a full and final way.

I couldn't do it without SD's support.  Ex Lax still has a way of pushing my buttons although to a much less extent than he previously could but SD is the calming voice of reason.  He can make me laugh at the ridiculous things Ex Lax says and does.  He can make me see that even if the final verdict doesn't give me everything I feel I deserve then I'm still a winner.

I'll always be the winner (and yes, sometimes it IS the winning that counts) because I am happy, I have a good life, I carry no guilt or shame for the past and I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have behaved with dignity and integrity.

I doubt I'll post much on this journey to free myself because what's the point?  I haven't ever and wont ever use my blog as a platform to discredit anyone else (it's all subjective anyway isn't it).  I may occasionally talk about it a little, I may not.

I'll almost certainly write a post when it is all over.

I'm hoping that day will be soon ...