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My memoirs – J and I, our first home.


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I’ve been ill with the flu all week – horrid. It was a week when I discovered Larry didn’t know how to peel potatoes and Jim didn’t know how to load the washing machine! Oh well, perhaps I’ll feel better next week.

While I was lying in bed feeling awful, I got to thinking about my next post on here. What should I write about? It seemed some time since I wrote a post for my memoirs, mainly because I’ve been caught up in Larry’s posts about his finding on life over here in the U.K. I

I am writing these memoirs for my boys. Perhaps they will like reading them one day. This one is particularly significant and I hardly known where to start. It is about young love and discovery. It also touches on ‘becoming invisible as we get older’ because I am 62 year’s old now; but I wasn’t always old. I wasn’t always an Oma. I was a young lady – that’s me in the picture with my first husband J. We weren’t married yet. When you look at this picture, see me as the young lady I was, not the old lady I’ve become. I’m still here. I just look different and I think differently about life, based on my experiences. I digress…

It is May 1970. I am 18 years old and J is 21. We  are preparing for our wedding in August. We have know each other for four years already and we are planning to get married to the day that we met, i.e. August 15th. For me it is a happy day, a very special day. J and I met on August 15th, 1966 and we married four years later. The marriage was to last for 36 years and we are still great friends to this day.

We saved to get a deposit for the flat (apartment) you see in the picture. It cost apx  £3,200 and our deposit was £1,000. Neither of us earned very much money because we were so young and J was still studying for his degree as a research chemist. He wouldn’t complete the course until three years later, although he already had an H.N.C (Higher National Certificate) in Chemistry. So in those early days I was earning more than he was,just!, as a Sales Administrator at Electrolux. In those days it was only the husband’s salary which counted for the mortgage and then only 2 1/2 times, nothing like it is nowadays. We were lucky to get a mortgage at all. Despite saving diligently in the Halifax Building Society for 3 years, we were still turned down. They said they didn’t lend money on flats and we couldn’t afford a house. Then J’s father took matters into his own hands. He went down to the Building Society and ‘threatened’ to take his own savings out and put them somewhere else if they didn’t give his son a mortgage! Nowadays that probably wouldn’t cut any ice, but then it did. He had significant savings and they listened. Our mortgage was granted (thanks dad) and we got on the first rung of the ladder.

The flat was new, brand new and I can’t tell you how excited I was to get it. My mum promised to buy us some curtains so that they were all the same. They were bright orange and one of the walls was purple. All very 70’s and high fashion at the time. Later on one of my hamsters would chew a big hole in one of those expensive curtains, but I’ll keep that story for another time.

Our flat was on the ground floor, at the front of the building. There was a bus-stop right outside, which was very convenient. I could walk to work and J could get the bus. Bit by bit we bought carpet and furniture and made a cosy home.

In the picture I am wearing a mini-skirt dress. It was made of crimplene, a very fashionable material at the time. I think it was a pale green colour.

Here are some interesting facts about May 1970 in the U.K.

So, we had chosen our home, booked the church for our wedding and the venue for the wedding reception. My dress was chosen as were the dresses for the two bridesmaids. We were almost there…

What were you doing in May 1970?

So much to be thankful for!


photo (5)This picture is the very first one taken where I am with both my grandsons and their daddies. Needless to say I am very proud of it. Dylan, on the left, wasn’t feeling well that day so he looks miserable and Sam was tired because it was near his bedtime; so neither of them were very happy, but I was because it marks a moment in history for me. I am a very lucky Oma indeed. Shown are two of my three sons. The eldest one was not present and doesn’t have any children but I felt he was worthy of a mention!

‘Deep streams usually run smoothly and quietly. They have the same rocks and obstacles to overcome as their noisy, shallow counterparts, but they are so full that they can rise above those difficulties so a casual observer would never know they were there.

Whether our lives are turbulent and noisy, or smooth and graceful doesn’t depend on how many or how few problems they contain. It depends on how full they are.’

From The Friendship Book – 2013

Family life does not always run smoothly. I have experience of that like everybody else, but it is how we handle these turbulent times that matters isn’t it.

I have much to be thankful for. I really do. At this time of year as we pass through Thanksgiving and look forward to Christmas, I am more aware of it than usual.

I wish you all, my blogging pals, a peaceful week as you prepare for your Christmas festivities.

With love from the cottage and Oma x

What am I currently making?


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I’m busy making some things for the Church Autumn bazaar. I finished two of the tea-pot covers recently; one black and yellow and the other black and pink. I finished the top with some flowers made of yarn. Looks quite nice doesn’t it.

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I also had some leftover pieces of material from the jungle quilt I made recently for my grandson Sam. I used those to make some pretty pot holders, see below.

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I can’t make the items fast enough unfortunately and time is getting nearer. The bazaar is on 16th November so it’s just around the corner.

However! I’m not going to dwell on what I haven’t done, only on what I have done. That’s a good adage, isn’t it? Do few things but do them well.

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My new computer arrived last Thursday and I’m slowly getting used to it! I find Windows 8 very confusing, but thanks to a previous post and an answer from Pia I downloaded the Classic Shell and now I am back to what I am used to, almost. I think I shall be keeping my old computer for quite a while though because there are things on it that won’t work with Windows 8. For example, did you know that Windows 8 will not play DVD’s? and all my music, which I had put on an external hard drive (luckily) would not open on the new computer. I had to convert them all individually. Actually, Larry did it for me. Isn’t that kind of him!

I suppose these days we have moved on a lot, but because of my age and the fact that I have been using computers for so long, I am stuck in the past with lots of CD’s to listen to. I’m not about to go downloading all that lot again from I-Tunes, am I. If I was starting off, it would be a different matter. I would do a lot more downloading and my office would be a CD-less workspace. Eventually I will have to give them all away or sell them. I know that, but I do think that the computer manufacturers could consider the needs of older people more than they do.

I like ‘simple’ so I’m not very keen on the tiling I get at the beginning. There are three screens when I switch on so there’s a fair bit of navigation to get where I want to be. I’m not a fan of ‘touch screen’, preferring the keyboard for everything.

I’m still working on the pictures. I’ve downloaded Picasa so I can organise properly. Sadly I don’t have my albums on Picasa, but I will be able to organise any new pics I take. I have a library of 6600+ pics so they do take a lot of organising.

I’ve always used Quicken to organise my finances (at home), but Quicken isn’t supported in the U.K. anymore and Windows 8 won’t play it. I have the 2004 version, which is way too old for today’s computers. Which programme do you’all use for finances?

So I’m in a bit of a minefield really, but the new machine is FAST. Now WordPress opens much quicker, which is good for the blogs where people include videos. Previously it was taking me ages and ages to download the Reader and see all the new blogs and that was mostly due to the videos loading. LadyBlueRose, that’s you. Your blog is very full my dear! So now it all comes down the tube very quickly. What with coping with things in the cottage and waiting for the old computer to load up, I had time to clean my teeth and wash my face before I could see the new blogs.

Wish me luck as I tread carefully through the minefield. When I get too frustrated, I just read a good book or pick up my knitting. It’s easier…!

Oma

Autumn Flowers


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It was my birthday on Saturday and I have to say I consider myself very lucky to have a birthday in this, the most beautiful month of the year. I haven’t received my birthday present yet. It’s coming on 21st of the month – a new computer! Aren’t I lucky? The one I have been using for the last three years is soooooooooooo slow now, that it is almost unusable so I’m ditching it. Unfortunately that means I will soon be using Windows 8, which I don’t care for at all, but there it is. I need to upgrade. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on soon. Meanwhile, if any of you have any tips about using Windows 8, I would be very glad to hear them.

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Here in the cottage garden, I have started bringing in the summer geraniums. They will not over-winter outside if we get any frost and I don’t want to lose any so one by one I am bringing them in until April. It sounds a long time doesn’t it, but there it is.  I took some cuttings from the bigger plants, as usual, and the little babies are doing really well on the window ledge in the front room.

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Preparations for winter continue. I need to get a new hot water bottle. I use one so much, I wear them out every two years. Here’s a tip: never keep your hot water bottle too long because the rubber inside can become perished. If you live in England, always buy a good one. It’s not worth risking getting burned. I don’t feel ready for an electric blanket yet. I’ll consider that when the hot water bottle doesn’t work anymore.

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Today we went to Specsavers. Larry needed a hearing test. This comes free on the National Health Service over here. He was referred there by the doctor we have. The test took an hour to do and he walked out of the shop with two new hearing aids and much improved hearing. It didn’t cost anything and it was all over very quickly and efficiently. He was very impressed and once again, I can say how very proud I am of our National Health Service here in England.

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So, next stop is the hospital on Thursday, when L has to have something on his neck looked at. I’ll let you know about that afterwards. The older we get, the more we need the doctor etc. it seems!

So enjoy the Autumn with me and wish me luck with my new computer when it gets here. I think there will be lots of cursing and swearing until I get used to it.

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Dylan update – a trip to the hospital.


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It has been a very busy week for my little grandson, Dylan who is two and a half years old now.

Last Friday he started Nursery School for the first time.  For the last year or so he has been coming to me for the day on Fridays, but now that routine is set to change. Just like everything else in life; just as you get used to one routine, it changes for another. Having Dylan for the whole day has been a joy, but also very hard work because he is on the go all the time and at my age that is hard. I need a sleep in the afternoons or a rest at the very least. With a toddler around, that is nigh on impossible. I cannot believe how I coped all those years ago when I had my own three little boys. Did I really go through the whole day without a nap? Could I really carry one on each hip at the same time? I did, but I couldn’t do it now.

So in a way I am pleased that Dylan will be going to Nursery and yet in another way I am sad because it will be different.

With Larry’s arrival and Dylan’s first trip to Nursery School, we have put away the cot and all the bedding including the mattress. It is up for sale (sadly) and so is his push-chair (reluctantly). Ah, I hear you say, but you have another grandson (Sam)…. what about him? Isn’t he coming to stay at Oma’s?  Well no, is the answer to that.  I don’t expect to see nearly as much of Sam as I have of Dylan. Sam and his parents live fifteen miles away so he won’t be popping in nearly so often. I think of him every day and in some ways I wish I saw more of him, but again, it’s hard work, entertaining family and babies and I have to admit, I’m just not up to it anymore.

For the last two and a half years I have played at mummies and babies a little bit.  It was wonderful to have a cot around again and a pushcahir and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a baby, but now I’m ready to move on. Larry is here and soon his ‘stuff’ will arrive from America and we need every bit of spare space we can get in the cottage.  I’m not very good at empty nests. I never have been. My nature is to collect things, not to give them away.

Dylan went to Nursery with his daddy and the first session was just for an hour and a half. Soon he will be going for a day and a half each week, which is probably plenty for a child so young. After his session at Nursery he came here for the rest of the day and I noted that he was a bit disturbed. For the first half hour he curled up in a ball by the front door and wouldn’t talk to anybody or do anything. We were expecting a delivery of a large package so eventually he had to move to allow the men to get through the door so that made him move to the sofa. After that he steadily got out of the sulks but truly he was upset and I felt sorry for him. He is a sociable child and he needs to mix with other children, but it must have been hard for him – about the same as for one of us going to work for the very first time.  Everybody is new, there are lots of people about, the noise is probably a bit deafening and all in all it makes for a stressful environment.  I’m sure that once he gets used to it, he will be fine, but for the moment, he is out of his comfort zone for sure.

Last night there was a development, nothing to do with the Nursery. Dylan developed breathing difficulties in the middle of the night and his parents took him to the A and E (Accident and Emergency) department of the local hospital. There he was thoroughly checked out, given oxygen and steroid medicine and eventually went home at 5 a.m. It must have been very traumatic for him as it was for his anxious parents. Today they are all resting and getting over it! However, it is a wake up call. His mum suffers with asthma so maybe Dylan will have a tendency to that sort of thing.  At the hospital, croup was diagnosed. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again! So frightening for all concerned.

So, life does not always go smoothly, does it and the lesson to learn is that each day is precious and we need to remember that.

Bless you Dylan, get well soon. You are so very loved by us all xxx

Oma

Growing old gracefully.


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Last year I decided to let my hair grow out grey. It was a big decision for me because it is not just the hair thing, it is much more than that for a woman.  For a man it is so different. Men age gracefully automatically, just so long as they take care of their bodies and keep reasonably fit and stay very clean. For women these days, with all the beauty products available, it is more of a conscious decision.  It is almost like saying ‘I don’t want men to see me as a sex object anymore. I am me, I am older, see me as I really am. To be honest, I think going grey aged me ten years! That’s a lot isn’t it.

I wanted to see if people treated me differently and they do. I have become invisible. Some people treat me like their favourite auntie or granny, other people see me as an old nuisance, especially when I have my shopping trolley with me. I do get more respect from some quarters and less from others. What I am not anymore is a potential partner, not by sight anyway. My dazzling personality and winning smile!!! will still see me through when I get into conversation, but I don’t get those second looks anymore, not do I want them.

That is the turning point: I do not want the second looks. I have had a few lapses over the last year. I have hovered for a while around the hair dye aisle in the local Supermarket. I have gazed longingly at the jazzy new nail polish colours further down but I have resisted so far. I have tried to buy more conservative clothes and ended up with a wardrobe with three types of clothes in it. I still have work suits in there because they were expensive and I can’t bear to part with them yet. I have classic type clothes that won’t date and I have the sort of clothes that I really like wearing, which are largely Indian in style, with lots of long dresses with sequins and swirls. So I hover between them all. I rarely wear the suits, although they do come in handy for my visits to town. I wear the classic clothes to meet my friends and go to church etc. but when I am on my own – I paint my nails red and wear my Indian dresses.

Since letting my ‘hair go grey’ I have been much more careful with the way that I speak. I don’t swear any more! I never did swear much but now I leave it along. I don’t think it goes well with my new image.

I have certain role models – people who I admire from films or TV. I try to copy their style as the metamorphosis develops. Here lies a problem because my role models are so diverse. Ideally I would like to look like Sophia Loren. I realise that some people reading this will not have heard of her! Those that have will know exactly what I mean.

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Then again I like Miss Marple’s style, do you know the version in which Geraldine McKewan stars? She is so sweet and so dainty. Yes, I’d like to be like that.

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See what I mean? It’s a bit of a problem. If I am to be a butterfly changing back into a caterpillar, then I want that caterpillar to be a pretty one – one that people look at and say, ‘that’s a pretty caterpillar.’ Perhaps they will avoid treading on it then!

Now I’m off to Sainsbury’s with my shopping trolley (that’s a bag on wheels) ready to do battle with the crowds but with a big smile on my face.

I’m getting there slowly…

Getting through the day – remembering.


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This is a picture of my grandson Dylan and me in the park recently. It looks simple, doesn’t it, but really it’s anything but!

As I get older, I find I have to think more about those simple tasks that get me through the day. I don’t just do them anymore, I think them through so that I don’t have to make too many journeys up and down the stairs or in and out of the fridge etc. For example:

When I get up in the morning, at 6.30 a.m (I’m an early riser, even though I don’t have to be!), it starts off a chain of events, which I need to do in the right order. I get out of bed, visit the bathroom and empty my hot water bottle. Since I sleep alone here, I need that every night during the winter and my cat Patch appreciates it too! Return to the bedroom, put on slippers and dressing gown and get tablets out of the cupboard ready to take with my first cup of tea. Then I go downstairs, taking care not to trip over the cat on the way down. The cottage is still cold at this point. Outside it is dark outside. First thing I do is turn up the heating.

Now begins the kitchen ritual. I get two cups off the dresser, add teabag and milk, fill kettle, switch on, then trot around all the rooms opening curtains. By the time I’ve done that, the kettle has boiled.

I fill mugs and leave to stand and brew. Next I cut a large slice of toast bread and put under the grill. While that is cooking, I fetch butter and marmalade out of the cupboard and put on the side ready. By now the cat is weaving in and out of my legs miaowing. I get her bowl and the tin of cat meat out of the fridge. Fill bowl, watch toast, put bowl down, pick up water (I do this to save too many stoopings down). Change water and put yesterday’s food dish in sink to soak. It’s just like an assembly line.

When the toast is done, remove from grill, turn off grill, put toast on plate and butter. Take teabags out of mugs and discard. Put mugs on tray. Return to toast and add marmalade. Get biscuit out of tin for J.

So now I’m winning! The tea is made, toast and biscuit done, heating on, cat fed. Hooray!

I return upstairs with tray complete with goodies being very careful to negotiate the children’s stair-gate, cat and dressing gown dangling down by my ankles.

If I get to the top unscathed, I give J his tea and biscuit, open his curtains and say ‘good morning’. Then I return to my own cosy nest to drink my tea, eat my toast, take my tablets and read my book for half an hour. I’m not being lazy – I am waiting for the house to warm up. It takes half an hour, then I can go and get washed and dressed.

And all of that before 7.30 a.m.

Getting back to my grandson, I looked at that photo and realised what we had to do to get to that point of enjoyment. It was a similar sequence of events. It took time and thought and planning. I have to take an emergency bag in case of accidents (you can’t see that in the picture). I have to remember his gloves, hat, boots and hanky.

And so it goes on all through the day and as I get older, it gets harder, harder to remember, harder to do. I don’t really know why, it just does!

I suppose it will get even harder as I get older. I might reach for the tablets and find I’ve run out or find the stairs are hurting my knees. Those are the sorts of things I worry about now. I am not really a worrier but every now and then I stop and think.

Does all this sound familiar to you?