Monday, May 31, 2010

A 'Phone Call

Dear Diary, those dratted crochet squares! While we did our utmost to complete them there are several needing tails sewn in. Anne tried to keep up the cracking pace I set ... I was determined to finish that rug.

But ... Life had other ideas! Or rather Niece had other ideas.

Whilst sitting at the tea table the telephoned rang. Nothing unusual in that I thought, except it hadn't registered before, but Anne's telephone hadn't rung once all the time I have been here. [Memo to myself ... I must make the effort to call her at least once a month. A friendship that has lasted as long as ours could wither with lack of attention.]

"Alice," called Anne from the passageway where the telephone rested on a small circular table covered with a doily. "Telephone is for you!"

Wondering who would be calling I hurried to take the receiver.

"Hallo?" I was hesitant in my speech. Only Niece knew I was here, and if she was calling then it must be urgent. All types of scary thoughts raced through my mind. Perhaps Karen and Jake had left, never to darken Niece's door again? Perhaps Niece was ill and it was Karen requesting my urgent return home? Perhaps, and at this point a smile crossed my face, though I hurriedly removed it, Harold was ill and needed expert care? Ha! He could hire a nurse!

Niece was almost incoherent as she stumbled through a miserable story. Karen and Jake did not agree to her taking over the wedding. Words had been spoken! [By that I presumed Niece had been given a ticking off for putting her nose into their affair.]

"Please, please Dear Aunt Alice, would you come home. We need your calm presence to help sort this mess out!"

Oh Dear Diary, I was not surprised. Niece can be ruthless in her ways and while that man of hers appears to be meek and mild, he has learned how to keep the peace. He goes out. If Niece becomes high-handed with me I retire to my room. We have found, from experience, that Niece and a quiet hour or two is all that is required. It fleetingly crossed my mind that Karen and her mother were very much alike!

I agreed to return. The coach is relatively quiet during the week and a seat would be easily secured. With that thought in the back of my mind, I replied, "Of course I will come home! And please, however good your intentions are, please do not rile Karen and Jake up anymore! You have just discovered them. Imagine how it would feel if they left never to return!"

A small gasp down the telephone told me my words had hit their mark.

And so Dear Diary, here I am, sitting on the almost empty coach, filling you in with the details.

What awaits me?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Shed

Dear Diary, Not only is my nose red, but also my arms. I should have taken notice of what my Mother always said, "Cover up! Do not let the sun's rays on your skin in the middle of the day!" [Yes Mother.] And that Dear Diary was a million years before slip slop slap became a mantra.

We decided to have a quiet day, what with the exertion of the long walk yesterday, and our increasing maturity. Both Anne and I admitted, rather ruefully, that neither are as fit as we once were. Not having any particular activity in mind I thought I would take a look in the shed near the rear wall of the garden. Anne keeps an old fashioned garden; roses grow prolifically, though heaven only knows how many hours she puts into their keep. There is a rather wonderful vegetable garden, which explains the abundance of fresh vegetables on the table, and a herb garden in the shape of a wagon wheel. Anne is a gardener. I am not envious. I love looking at gardens, but ... Dear Diary, I am not keen on the hard physical labour.

The shed is rather ancient, oiled wood and extremely rickety, cobwebs covered the exterior giving it a rather spooky appearance. The window appeared to be from an old bathroom and thus gave me no view into the interior. There was nothing for it ... I would walk around the side for the door, which was always closed. I did wonder why, but not being nosy never inquired. Anne had hinted old things were kept there, but what constituted old things in her vocabulary? Ah well, Dear Diary, if I don't look I will never know.

The door was heavy and slid sideways, much to my surprise, as I spent at least five minutes trying to find a door knob. A small block of wood acted as a sort of handle. I grabbed it, pushed with all my might; the door remained static. More strength is required. Squaring my shoulders I pulled on the handle, and suddenly the door moved to the left. A proverbial Pandora's Box came into view. Boxes of books, some had evidence of being a mouse home at one stage. Dear Diary I do hope there are no rats here! I do not like rats!

Not that far inside the door stood a battered tin chest; the type that hold pride of place in a small town Museum that has a section devoted to early settlers. These tin chests provided safe and dry storage for blankets and household essentials when ancestors left the 'old country' for a new life across the ocean. Just as well the door was difficult to open. If word had got out the treasure trove in this old shed I feel that Anne's relatively quiet existence might be tarnished with visitations of burglars.

While I didn't see anything else that attracted my attention; an old rusty push-lawnmower, lengths of green binder twine that may be used in the garden but which originally wrapped hay bales, tools that I am positive had been willed to Anne, otherwise why would she own them, the tin chest had me extremely curious. Cautiously I pulled on the lid, and to my utmost amazement it swung open without the smallest squeak. Dear Diary, it was full of crafts in various stages of completion.

An old shoe box held plaster of Paris moulds and half a dozen unpainted ladies in crinoline dresses. They must be at least 50 years old! The surprising fact was that the red rubber moulds hadn't perished. An old flour bag, and I haven't seen them since last century, held a huge number of crochet squares, some of which were crocheted together, and none of which had that ungainly threads sewn it. How could Anne leave a task uncompleted Dear Diary! I abhor slackness! Not bothering to look any further, I hauled the flour bag out, shut the lid down, closed the door, and marched towards the house. We have a project for the rest of the day ... Anne and I will sit and crochet those squares together, add a border, and sew in those confounded tails.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Beach Walk

Dear Diary, I can honestly write that these few days at the seaside are better than a beach holiday was when I was a child. For some unknown reason the sand flies found me attractive; I wasn't keen on swimming, and I didn't like sand in my swimming togs. I did go out past my knees, but not up to my waist, which I suppose explains the reason I didn't learn to swim. Not that I dislike water; I love a bath or a shower.

I do remember the time I was given a new swimsuit ... looking back to that not-momentous occasion I can see the funny side, but at the time it was highly embarrassing.

We had a family friend who was a seamstress. She owned a holiday home at the beach, just one block from the sand and surf, and the day she invited me to spend a couple of weeks with them, as they say, made my day. There was one drawback. My swimming togs were too small and for a growing girl, almost indecent. She volunteered to make me a pair. I was ecstatic. A week or so later she arrived with the swimsuit, which was a deep rich red. I loved it; easily pictured myself strutting the sand like a movie star. I was about eleven at the time Dear Diary, and girls of eleven years are romantic dreamers.

We travelled to the holiday home, settled in, and the following morning, before the wind came up and the sun grew too hot, we made our way through a narrow path between many houses, to the beach. I dropped my towel on the sand, kicked off my shoes, and ran into the water; hardly caring I didn't swim. The water was beautiful; I wondered if perhaps this would be the summer when I learned to swim. Gentle waves crashed against my ankles; my calves, my knees, and finally the water was actually touching my new red swim wear. I ducked down a little ... so as to not get my hair wet, but to show others that I had been swimming. I must have been; the swim suit was wet! The unexpected happened! The swim suit was made from wool jersey, and with the weight of water it slumped. The crotch touched my knees. My face was as red as the swim wear! I ran from the water, grabbed my towel to cover my decency, and, sorry Dear Diary, I have to admit, a tear or two mingled with the salt water of the ocean. I never wore that swimsuit again, and I never learned to swim.

However, once one reaches a mature age there is no need to go swimming to make a statement.

This morning dawned beautifully, a direct contrast to the drabness of yesterday. Anne had suggested that should we wake to sunshine a long walk to the lighthouse might be in order. I agreed. It is such a shame that people do not live in the lighthouse, nor indeed in the lighthouse keeper's cottage today. Most lights are automated, which is rather boring. As the lighthouse is several kilometres away we packed lunch, carried bottles of water and another bottle of apple cider, just in case we felt like a little sip. Strong footwear was essential ... there were several outcrops of rocks to scramble over.

Setting off at a respectable pace; we had tides to take into account, we wended our way along the shore line, stopping at regular intervals to pick up an unusual shell. I especially liked the fan shaped ones in shades of yellow, and pink, and a pale orange-pink. The varieties of shells washed up amazed me. I gathered the storm of yesterday had swept shells from the deep onto our shores. Soon my little plastic bag that I brought for such treasures was quite full. I intended covering a tall, empty wine bottle with putty and stick the shells on, thus making an effective doorstop.

The rock pools were so fascinating I almost didn't want to leave them and continue towards the lighthouse. Crabs scuttled to hide at our approach, little fish that were deposited in the tidal pools at high tide gave a glint of colour to the water, and the small growth of seaweed reminded me of an underwater film, except this was in full view.

Soon our destination was in sight. Deciding to sit down on an old log, beyond the high tide mark, we devoured our lunch, suddenly hungry from the fresh air. The cider provided a welcome accompaniment to the succulent lunch Anne provided. When did she have time to concoct that quiche? I adore leek and ham quiche, particularly when partaken with a drop of cider. Anne had hidden a secret from me Dear Diary. She hadn't told me there was a rescue farm for birds at the lighthouse. A keeper tending sea animals and birds brought to him by the public had a high recovery success rate. Half a dozen blue lined swimming pools provided a safe haven until the creatures were ready for release into their natural habitat.

The sun was warmer than expected. While we did wear a sunhat and sunglasses I felt my nose burning, and hope that it doesn't peel. Dear Diary, a peeling red nose is best avoided!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Outing

Dear Diary, I am so relaxed, so at peace with the world. It's wonderful what a break away from the daily routine does.

The morning dawned dank and dark. For a moment I hauled the blankets over my head in an unsuccessful effort to pretend the sun was shining. Thinking I was acting like a spoilt child I bounced out, padded to the bathroom, dressed and tidied my room. With all my clothes stored in the drawers, the curtains pulled allowing a watery sun to shine through, the day did hold promise.

After breakfast Anne and I debated our programme. Should we sit at home and, in between chattering, read and play a game of Monopoly, or should we don our water-proof jackets and check out the shops, perhaps indulge in lunch at a restaurant well known for its seafood. The choice was not difficult! By mid morning we stood in the centre of the small town, wondering which direction to explore first. Anne, having lived in Beachtown many years, and having once owned a small bookshop cum tearooms, knew what was what.

Curious to know what Anne's business looked like, I suggested we wander there. Bookshops have always attracted my attention and it is so easy to spend long periods browsing before making a choice of a title, or titles, to read. The bookshop, now renamed "Books and Teas" sat snugly between two modern buildings, drawing attention to the bookshop which was elderly, small, and occupied a space little larger than an alleyway. We checked our watches ... time for tea! The bell jingled as we opened the door, the smell of books assailed our nostrils with an underlying aroma of tea and hot scones. I looked at Anne ... this was my type of place, and I found it difficult to comprehend why she had sold such a lovely little shop. Finding a table after placing our order, I enquired, "Anne, why did you sell this gem?"

Anne smiled, shook her head slightly and replied, "I had the utmost difficulty finding good staff. It was too much for just one, and staff that couldn't be relied upon to turn up on their shift, or arrived an hour late with no real excuse, proved to be insurmountable. I became tired; the task of baking, the challenge of buying books when reading fads change almost daily, combined to make the enterprise unworkable for me. I believe the present owner has her sister come in three days a week, for the busy mornings, which gives them both time to enjoy the business. I do not regret selling ... at my time of life the rigour of working long hours is not missed."

At this stage the Devonshire teas arrived; Anne played Mother and poured the tea from a brown teapot that held not tea for two, but tea for two with seconds. Lovely Dear Diary!

Later we moved around the book shelves. This little shop held an Aladdin's Cave of reading material; children's story books, books for babies to take to the bath, Vampire books for teenagers, and an extensive collection of reference books such as horticulture, crafts covering everything from origami to quilt making, history tomes, books on outer space, and a wonderful corner that sold second hand comics, some of which I recognised from my childhood. I chose a cryptic crossword book, for an idle moment, while Anne deciding she needed to reacquaint herself with crochet picked a delightful pattern book that concentrated on dressing table mats.

Our next stop was the wool shop, and while I browsed I managed to rein my spending instincts in only spending a few dollars on three balls of baby wool, though who I intend knitting for remains unknown. Anne assured me she has a book of matinee jackets. Dear Diary, can you see us in the evening, sitting in our armchairs; one knitting a baby jacket, the other crocheting a mat for a dressing table? Bliss!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Seaside

Dear Diary, Last evening Anne and I chatted as though the intervening years had not existed. We laughed recalling old school years, the teacher who threatened to report the class to the Rector, walked the length of the corridor, stood a few minutes [a 'spy' kept watch], and returned to a class even more unruly. Thankfully we had an excellent teacher the following year and passed our all-important external exams. We remembered drippy boys, who no doubt turned out to be doctors or dentists in a far off town, we giggled about the girls who insisted they crept out the window after dark and the following morning regaled those the less daring, which was 99%, of their exploits. Piece by piece our school days were dissected; we wondered over our teenage years ... did we really, one evening, walk over a mile into town to attend "Jail House Rock" starring Elvis Presley. Did we wear stockings, and have our arms signed by a travelling singer? It all was such a long time ago.

It was well past both our bedtimes when we went to bed; my room was a small attic painted white, which made it light and airy. Flimsy pale blue curtains dressed the window that must be a trial to clean with its tiny panes set into crisp white paint. The bedcover, while light in weight, was particularly cosy stuffed as it was with goose-down. I loved its rich burgundy shade that cast a warm glow to what may have otherwise been a cold looking room. An old, distressed-painted dressing table provided ample storage for my few belongings. Mr Sandman visited the moment my head touched the pillow.

I had a restful sleep Dear Diary, and was awakened by the tempting aroma of cooking bacon. Slipping out of bed I padded to the window, flung open the pane and breathed in the smell of the distant briny. I wonder if there are many who are not amazed at the seaside; the millions of grains of sand settled into a golden carpet; the diversity of shells washed up with the tide twice a day to lie exposed to the sun that quickly bleaches the delicate colours; the birds parading their important task of cleaning the tidal mark; and the waves continually crashing in only to dissipate into a white foam that resembles a washing machine overloaded with soap powder.

Hurrying through my ablutions I padded down the narrow staircase, my feet alerting Anne of my arrival. Breakfast was served in a little nook; a small round table clothed in a snow-white cloth and lime green dishes and place mats and matching napkins in a tiny lime green and white check. In the middle of the table stood a glass filled with nasturtiums; simply effective. For a moment I stood, entranced with the scene before me. But the smell of bacon beckoned. Orange juice, bacon and tomatoes and toasted muffins were followed by coffee ... Dear Diary, what better breakfast is there when at the seaside?

With the day so lovely, so beachy, after clearing the table and washing up there was only one place to be ... on the sand.

The wind was cooler once outdoors; the surf crashed against rocks that I hadn't noticed from the house; and the seagulls screamed their antagonism towards the smaller birds that attempted to take flotsam that may or may not have been tasty. Anne and I, no doubt remembering our conversation last evening about our younger days, slipped off our shoes, tied the laces together and slung them over our shoulders before high-stepping to the water's edge. The water was cold. I let out a small scream; Anne looked surprised at the noise, but when she put her toes into the foam she too squealed. Wandering along, between sand and surf, we felt that overwhelming connection to ancient times; perhaps a sublime memory of when mankind came out of the ocean to dwell on the land.

Dear Diary the day was relaxing; we had a light lunch, read poetry aloud part of the afternoon, prepared a delicious evening meal, and reminisced for hours.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Dear Diary, Niece is running around, Karen and Jake are sitting around, and I am packing my bag for a few days away; away from this circus.

I telephoned my old school friend, Anne, and arranged to catch the coach. She promised to meet me at the coach station; now to ensure I pack enough clothes, this being a rather unpredictable time of year. I will not be taking my bikini! Oh, I must remember to pack my sneakers for a walk along the sand, and a sun hat, as there are still U.V. alerts for the middle of the day.

At this moment I hear the makings of an argument in the living room. Karen is objecting loudly about Niece organising the wedding. Karen and Jake obviously had not reckoned on the natural behaviour of a mother when the word wedding is mentioned. I wonder if Karen would like a little advice? I would not dare to suggest to Niece she back down, but if Karen and Jake postponed the thought of an immediate wedding, this household might enter a period of calm. Weddings should be a time of celebration, a time for families to rejoice and welcome a new member to their ranks. It does appear, too often, that the exact opposite is the case.

Dear Diary, my case is now packed; I am ready to flit. The taxi is called, my journey about to begin.

"Bye Niece, Bye Karen," I call, ignoring Niece's loud protests about the taxi. She could have taken me, she said. I knew that, but there are some times a generous offer is best refused.


Dear Diary, I had an interesting trip, being so lucky to sit next to a woman near my own age, who had lead the most fascinating life. I often find that meeting a stranger on public transport nearly always enlightens the traveller.

This lady, and by my observation she was a true lady' dressed in black looked sombre and severe, though a second glance that showed a raspberry red chiffon scarf carelessly slung over her shoulder, and a matching brooch in her jacket lapel gave a clue that maybe all was not that appeared. We seated, and cautiously murmured a good day. A few kilometres down the road we relaxed and engaged in casual conversation. One can only speak of the weather for a brief period ... I was brought up with the belief that one did not discuss politics or religion with a stranger. Over the decades of my life I discovered one did not discuss politics or religion with anyone.

The coach rolled along, the movie was boring; some historical film about ancient royalty engaged in complicated manoeuvring that we both lost interest. The lady, who introduced herself as Naomi, mentioned she had not long come back from spending some time with American Indians, where she had learned about their history [as is not taught in schools], participated in tribal ceremonies, and came home enriched with the knowledge gained by living another culture. I was fascinated. The journey was all too soon over. Strange, Dear Diary, but we never exchanged surnames, or an address. We were but ships passing in the night.

As the coach drew into Beachtown station I noticed Anne stretching her neck to peer into the coach. I picked her instantly; she is very tall and as thin as a beanpole, and still wore bright colours. It is with pleasure I look to these few days in her company.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Dear Diary, another day, another entry.

Niece's demeanour has improved this morning. Instead of that open-mouth expression of disbelief that her life should suddenly take a different path, she wears an unmistakable countenance of calm satisfaction, taking ten years off her age. Her man wore a look of resignation; his life had changed and he no longer held the full attention of his wife. She was now a mother; a mother whose daughter was in the throes of planning a wedding. The future was bright; Niece was an organiser. The idea of a wedding coming up raced her mind into overdrive.

Niece and her man had married while overseas; the wedding was quiet with only a distant relative and his wife in attendance. The family had no prior knowledge of the distant relatives who descended upon Niece shortly after her arrival in Plymouth. Later we discovered that Niece had joined a Genealogy Society with the exclusive purpose of tracing her ancestry. She could have asked me! I have photos and documentation that would have given her a head start; Niece is stubborn! Evidently she had been in touch with these relatives. Though she never actually said so, I am sure it was because of the introductions to distant family that gave her the incentive to travel.

Her man, normally a rather dull specimen of manhood; he watches football, cricket, and seldom helps around the house; had travelled to England to watch an Ashes game. I have no idea how they met. After touring around for a few months, they arrived home engaged. Two years later they made another trip and it was on that occasion they married. Some of the family did wonder if their decision to marry overseas was simply a method of avoiding a 'big family do'. They arrived home married and set up home.

It was obvious to an observer that Karen and Jake had not contemplated someone else organising their forthcoming nuptials. It was also obvious to me that now was the time for me to take refuge with my old school friend, who lived at the seaside. Every Christmas, when we exchanged cards and greetings, she included a sentence inviting me to come and stay, and catch up with old times. I will take her up on that offer!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breakfast Revelation

Dear Diary, I suppose the world will not stop turning, and the sun will often shine upon us; life in my small portion of the world is topsy turvy.

After the first day it was my fervent wish that Karen and Jake might go home and give Niece a chance to regain her equilibrium. No such luck! That first day dragged, and when I dragged myself into the kitchen for breakfast they were sitting at the island bar, muesli, banana and yoghurt in their bowls, and a glass of orange juice alongside, which shows they are followers of the 'healthy lifestyle', and in that respect belong to the same club as I.

Their greeting was warm and cheerful ... at 7.30am! I dislike early mornings. I dislike mornings until I have partaken of at least two cups of tea, liberally laced with sugar and milk. Karen poured the first cup for me, which earned her a brownie point. However she spoiled the next ten minutes by chattering, about nothing. Until my cups of tea have surged through my veins I am a sorry sight.

While I abhor appearing dishevelled, mornings are the exception to that self imposed rule. As the morning was cool I wore my candlewick dressing gown, a relic from the 60's, when my life was exciting and daring; when I danced the twist and the limbo, before the easy procurement of The Pill; when young girls flaunted their knees under short skirts and wore stiletto heels that ruined linoleum and parquet floors. I had kept the dressing gown occasionally bringing it out when I felt the need to be cherished. Strange Dear Diary, that an ancient pale lemon candlewick dressing gown can evoke warm memories. But, life has been different over the past 24 hours.

Slowly the English Breakfast tea drifted around my system reviving my sluggishness and reminding my stomach that it had not received food for 12-hours. Realising that Karen and Jake had bowls of my favourite breakfast, I suggested I join them.

"Where is your mother Karen?" I enquired.

Karen looked flummoxed, until the penny dropped. She smiled, lovingly, at her memories of the past day.

At this stage I felt humbled. Karen hadn't the pleasure of knowing her mother during her babyhood and childhood. The meeting would have triggered many feelings, emotions of joy, and sorrow.

"She must be feeling overwhelmed Aunt. I should have written and introduced myself much earlier instead of suddenly, out of the blue, telephoning and rushing into a garbled explanation, and inviting myself, and Jake, and not giving her the opportunity of assimilating all my news."

"Karen," I murmured, I had no idea of your existence. Your mother kept that secret so well. I am positive that man of hers had no inkling either. Just imagine how surprised he must feel!"

We sat quietly, the round white clock hanging on the wall next to the old Pear's soap poster of a little girl climbing into the bath in a room that had black and white tiles on floor and the wall behind the bath. I stared at the poster. The little girl had beautiful golden hair; the bath had curved legs that were visible; the bathroom in no way resembled modern bathrooms. I stared at Karen. Her hair blonde hair had roots a wonderful shade of gold. Many times hints had been tossed out to Niece to 'get rid of that old poster'. Suddenly the reason for its place of pride, in the kitchen where it was always in the line of vision, became obvious. The Pear's poster girl reminded Niece of the baby she had given up.

A shiver ran down my back. A unseen shadow crept over me and a deep sadness filled my heart. Dear Diary, my poor Niece. She had kept this important episode in her young life to herself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Answer?

Dear Diary, this house has gone completely to the pack! The past two days have been unenviable. I have retired to my room where some semblance of order and cohesion reign. Not so elsewhere!

Niece is beside herself; though why all the fuss and bother I really don't know. The visitors are family. That much was explained within the first two hours of their arrival. Tea was made, we all sat in the kitchen. I wasn't invited, nor was I told to go to my room, and having been brought up not to ask nosey questions, I did refrain.

Niece didn't make any effort to fill in the gaps; that was extraordinary. Usually Niece is a chatterbox, and delights in colouring in the picture minutely. She can tell anyone who asks; anyone who doesn't ask but looks remotely curious, who the person is visiting Number 10, half way down the block. She knows where everyone in the neighbourhood works, what they do, how many children they have, and what their pet is plus what it is called. She speaks knowledgably about everything. [I know she has a bookcase in the corner of the dining room that overflows with reference books; encyclopaedias, dictionaries, thesaurus, atlases, and enough gardening books to start a bookstore.] Begin a conversation, and within five sentences Niece butts in correcting grammar, or adding her two-dollar's worth to the moment. These habits of hers I have grown used to, which is not to say I approve. No Dear Diary, there are times when one should keep one's mouth shut ... and shut tight.

We sat around the table, the red checkered cloth left on after breakfast had a splotch of marmalade near where the jam dish sat, there was a dribble of tea spilled from pouring a cuppa, and toast crumbs added a certain texture to the surface of the cloth. Of course they were more noticeable on the white squares; the red tends to hide a lot of sins. Niece forgot to offer biscuits. I, on the other hand, seeing the occasion needed more than just tea, brought out the tin of shortbread that Niece baked yesterday, placed it on a rather pretty plate, the one with the apricot coloured roses in the corners, before setting it on the middle of the table. I even swept, inconspicuously, the worst of the toast crumbs into my hand and tossed them out the back door for the birds.

These visitors had little conversation. The woman sat and stared at Niece, almost marvelling at some unknown fact that I was not yet privy to. Her male companion after mumbling a greeting, kept aloof. Niece gabbled on about nothing, while that man of hers looked gobsmacked ... gobsmacked is not a word I normally have in my vocabulary; I consider it slightly vulgar, but Dear Diary there is no other word for his expression. His lower jaw had dropped at least a quarter of an inch; his lips hung limp, and his eyes had that glazed look; the look he often has on a Sunday morning after a night watching football with his mates.

Finally Dear Diary, an explanation was made. This woman, Karen was her name, was actually Niece's daughter! I did not know I had a grand niece! Nor did I have an inkling that Niece had given birth, assuming that her lack of children in this marriage meant she, or they, were unable to have children. To be honest I always felt rather sad about that fact, but deigned to say anything in fear of making Niece upset. Karen was born when Niece was only 18 years old ... a flash romance with a chap who furthered his education at University, left town and never returned. Niece had not told her husband of this interlude; it was no wonder his jaw dropped! As Karen is marrying Jake she decided to search for her natural mother. What a to do Dear Diary, the household is no longer serene. So many secrets!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Day for Reading

Dear Diary, Life has returned to normal. No man intruding upon my refined and private life. Once again my concentrations can be subliminal; recording the changes in the seasons, the shifting light, the antics of Greensmith and Redshaw, interspersed no doubt by unrehearsed moments of madness starring Niece.

Speaking of Niece, she appears to be in a state of confusion this morning. Two hours before sunrise pans and dishes clashed and clanged in the kitchen; her usual reedy singing was silent, replaced by tuneless whistling. Knowing there are moments in one's life that are best handled with kid gloves I decided on a healthy breakfast of a banana. Luckily I have an electric kettle in my living area, which allowed me my two cups of coffee, essential to put me on track for the day.

A book may prove my best friend today! Dear Diary it could be surmised that I am revisiting my childhood in my reading material. Earlier in the year the local bookshop prominently displayed, near the counter, an illustrated copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". I was entranced with the artwork, delicate water coloured plates illustrating the story. In my young days "Treasure Island", along with "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, and "Little Women" by Louisa M Alcott consisted of words, pages of words that may have included a pencil-line sketch at the beginning of each chapter. It is strange how the reading of what was essentially a child's book takes on a completely different persona when read later in life. Every chapter is a revelation; new landscapes are encountered with the second reading.

But wait! Dear Diary, there is a fissure of excitement in the kitchen. A heart-rending cry! I must investigate.


Dear Diary, My entrance to the kitchen coincided with Niece flinging open the back door. I had not heard a knock; it was too early for vacuum cleaner salesmen or peddlers of religious literature. A tall, leggy, attractive young lady stood on the step. Her companion, looking unsure not only of his reason for being present, but also at the reception they were likely to encounter, engaged my mind into top gear.

Niece's man hurried into the kitchen, a look of utmost surprise on his face. He had good reason!

The young lady was dressed impeccably in tailored black trousers with creases back and front, a rose pink blouse that accentuated her long blonde hair tied back with a black satin bow, and a tanned complexion inferred she spent time outdoors, while slung carelessly over her arm, was a black jacket. I noticed a wonderful ruby brooch nestling on its lapel. But it wasn't the clothes that completely captured my attention. This young woman was a younger version of Niece!

I wracked my brain for an answer. No distant cousin came immediately to mind. Who was this woman? Why was Niece in such a tizz? Did she know of the visit?

So many questions Dear Diary, and by the tears and laughter, I was not going to find an answer immediately.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Puff, Puff

Dear Diary, Today is speeding along, and like a freight train in the days of steam engines, great puffs of smoke fill the airways. No Dear Diary, I have not taken up cigarette smoking. Heaven forbid! The price is outrageous for a packet of cigarettes. I guess this is as good a time as any to make a confession ... I did smoke once, only once. I was but a little slip of a girl with little to do this particular sunny late summer day. Boys around my age were experimenting with cigarettes and tobacco, and I desired to emulate them.

Let me remind you Dear Diary that this was way before Women's Lib. Girls did girls activities, and boys played marbles. Of course, way back in what today's youngsters call the dim dark ages, women had a method of obtaining what they desired. It began with the eyes, which could be used in all manner of ways to beguiling the male sex [and then the word sex was not spoken by decent girls]. Many of the movie actresses smoked cigarettes on the screen. They were so very sophisticated with their elegant slim white cigarette slid ever so carefully into a long holder as they draped themselves across a velvet chaise lounge.

My only encounter with the cigarette unfortunately was not elegant, or sophisticated. It was vile. I had taken a packet of tissue papers from the drawer in the kitchen, sneaked a box of wax matches, but couldn't find the tobacco. Determined as I was that today was going to be the day, I searched the edge of the garden for a dried dock plant, carefully plucked the leaves and with fumbling fingers managed to roll it into a cigarette; though I don't think it would be recognisable as such. I placed it in my mouth, and being careful not to burn my fringe, struck the match, held it to the cigarette, and drew back, as I had noticed the movie stars did. Smoke filled my lungs; a disgusting taste over-powered my mouth. I felt bilious. I tossed the cigarette away, after trodding on it to extinguish any remnants of fire, and promptly emptied my stomach. I was not a well girl.

After breakfast I realised I needed some toiletries, and seeing it was sunny, if cool, morning, thought a walk into town would be a bracing start to the day. It was bracing!

Near the shopping mall I heard a woman with a hideous laugh. She sounded flirtatious and cheap, and I wondered whom the young girl was giving in to such unladylike unrestrained mirth. As I rounded the corner my eyes bulged in disbelief. Ms Shocking Pink, Harold's companion, was hanging off the arm of a middle-aged, rotund gent, whose hair was as bald as a newly laid brown egg, and whose spectacles were like the ends of a lemonade bottle. Ms Shocking Pink was laughing up into his eyes. Clearly they were more than acquaintances!

Suddenly the penny dropped. Because Dear Diary, after lunch yesterday Harold came sneaking to Niece's house, knocked at the door and solicitously enquired after my health. Niece, courageously, hurried to my room asking if I desired to see him. I didn't. She told him to leave. According to Niece Harold's jaw dropped [like a Basset Hound she related] as he scuttled down the path and out the gate.

Seeing Ms Shocking Pink with another 'suitor' told the end of story. Harold was tossed over the side of the ship for someone flashier. Funnily enough, Dear Diary, I find the whole situation extremely amusing.

A Mishap

Dear Diary, Yesterday progressed extremely well. Niece and I had what could almost be described as a 'Mother ~ daughter' day. That man of hers came up trumps by arriving home when we were still engrossed in stitching. He took one look in the door, went right back out, only to arrive back within half an hour with a takeaway Indian meal. Altogether the day was a diamond day!

This morning I rose sharp, feeling particularly benevolent. For a change I made my way to the kitchen, knowing that no-one else had risen, and prepared breakfast. One good turn deserves another! Scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and crumpets were cooked to perfection when Niece came in. The look on her face was one of pure shock! I really must endeavour to be more helpful around the house, and while not making breakfast the same morning every week, I will undertake that little task weekly; the day will be a surprise.

After breakfast I returned to my room. Greensmith and Redshaw needed their water changed. Not altogether a task of which I strictly like, but needs must. In order to dispose of the water I opened the patio doors with the intention of tossing the water onto the garden; not that it really needed watering after the downpour yesterday, but much better than tipping it down the toilet, which does make my nose turn up. If I were Greensmith and Redshaw I don't think I would like my home disposed off down the toilet!

I had a plastic bag with a little water in the bottom, and a big baking bowl that I commandeered from the kitchen. Greensmith and Redshaw, captured with relative ease, were safely ensconced in the plastic bag, the top securely clipped with one of those rather wonderful kitchen inventions, a pink plastic peg-like contraption made for the express purpose of closing bags before returning them to the freezer chest. Just as I was carefully, very carefully emptying the aquarium, which is a rather small piece of equipment and only suitable for two fish, being careful not to upend the plants, a movement near my feet caused me to look down. In horror I noticed a fluffy white cat eyeing my fishy friends with a hungry look!

Blondie, the cat from next door, who spends more time in Niece's garden than in her own backyard, often creeps into the house. Usually we see her coming and with a loud "Scram" chase her outdoors. This time she had sneaked in whilst I was employed doing other things!

Blondie taking umbrage with my tone of voice leapt towards my knees, knocking me forward. The aquarium slid from my hands; the plants scattered on the carpet, and I let out a terrified roar! Blondie ran outside, to safety!

Niece must have heard the din; and no doubt concerned with my scream of outrage and fear, rushed into the room. There I was Dear Diary, sprawled on the carpet, my head resting on the seat of the chair, the aquarium near my feet and my clothes saturated with aquarium water. Deeply distressed I did not know what to do. Niece helped me to my feet, but I was in such a state of shock, she pushed me into the chair ... before I fell taking her with me.

Thankfully Niece kept her cool. Hurrying to the linen cupboard she grabbed a huge towel and began mopping up the mess. I rescued the plants, we put the aquarium to rights, filled it with fresh water, returned Greensmith and Redshaw to their abode, and headed for the kitchen and a resuscitating cup of tea.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rainy Day

Dear Diary, at last the rains are beginning to fall. Farmers are busy seeding and the dust that has filled the skies over the past days has disappeared. Rainy days are indoor days. And indoor days are designed for one of two things; either to sit and idle the hours away, or increase one's abilities to exist in this modern world. Today I fell between the joints.

Idle time can be time wasting, but sitting seeming comparatively idle, yet exercising the brain on a project, then surely one must complement the other? My project? Aha, Dear Diary, that is in the melting pot.

A little clue ... Harold and his apparently licentious behaviour!

I confess to a slight feeling of envy, jealousy even, but once the hurt that he inflicted upon my ego subsided, and my soul bruising paled to an almost unnoticed shade of the weakest blue, other emotions emerged. Emotions that initially threatened to upset my equilibrium, but after a moment rationalising the situation, gave way to the utmost relief. Harold is definitely not the type of man that I wish to have as an acquaintance. He is shallow, and I suspect still misses his mother. Why else, Dear Diary, does he find it absolutely essential to be on the friendliness terms with a woman? He needs to have someone to look after him? He feels that he is important when in the company of a woman ... for a moment I thought he desired to be seen in the company of a gracious lady, but ... after seeing the floozy he had on his arm yesterday, I doubt that very much.

Harold was easily dismissed from my thoughts as ideas for a super project swirled around the mind.

I am not sure if lavender; the colour and the plant, grow in importance in the domain of a lady of mature years, or whether lavender is latent, only coming to the fore when one has time on one's hands. Sitting quietly in my easy chair, the one whose cushion is comfortable, but becoming tatty in appearance, one idea overtook all other thoughts. Why not create a new cushion; something suitable for everyday sitting upon, but bright and cheery.

At that moment Niece knocked on my door. That girl must have second sight! Second sight is a gift that has re-appeared throughout the generations on my maternal side, and as Niece's Mother was my sister, then it is probably no co-incidence she is inclined that way. I bade her enter. Another moment of epiphany! For there in her hands she carried a bundle of fabrics. This was the moment the day was created for!

Together we sorted them into colours. Yellows I discarded; reds I put to the other side, greens ... mmm ... maybe. Blues varied from dark to light. As the bundle slowly subsided we were left with the most heavenly shades of purples and lavenders, and a beautiful clover pink with the tiniest of white flowers embossed. One of the pieces of lavender had a design of lace all over. Beautiful colours, wonderful fabrics, and a mind brimming with ideas. If as one person Niece and I picked up the chosen fabrics, hurried to the dining table, and together began the process of creating a cushion. Who cares about the rain? We don't Dear Diary, we are women with a mission.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Dear Diary, the visit to the Museum was fascinating, in a number of ways.

It is many years since my last visit to a museum, and I had forgotten about the Mummies lying in their coffins [boxes] on show for the world to see. Poor Mummies! I hurried past feeling rather sad that people actually came to stand and stare at the dear departed, even if they departed way back in the annals of time. It was akin to driving past a cemetery and seeing the headstones, standing like sentinels, their jam jars of plastic flowers adding a splash of colour. I often wonder what will happen in another five hundred years when the graves threaten to overtake the towns. I know I won't be around to comment then, but I do wonder.

However Dear Diary the revelation of the day occurred while we were awaiting our meal at the intimate eating-house. Niece ordered a healthy chicken salad, while I, feeling daring, ordered a cheese concoction, a soufflé type dish, which was light but extremely tasty.

We had a seat near an area designed to resemble an outdoor garden, sheltered of course by a all encompassing glass roof, with blinds to keep out the worst of the mid-day sun. Tables for two, four, and eight were arranged to give the maximum privacy for dining, and a background of gentle, quiet, music helped create an ambience designed to soothe the soul.

Niece and I were discussing the pros and cons of the different displays at the Museum when I heard Niece gasp. My back was to the door; I noticed nothing untoward. Niece leaned forward, touching me on the arm, and with the other hand, pointed towards the entrance.

"Don't look now!" she said.

I looked!

Dear Diary, I could hardly believe my eyes. There, standing at the reception was a short, very rotund, bottle blonde woman [the word lady did not enter my thoughts at all], dressed in the most revolting shade of shocking pink with white high heeled sandals. Had the day been warm; had the wearer been forty years younger, I probably would never have cast a second glance. This was an obvious case of mutton dressed up as lamb. I almost asked Niece to pass the mint sauce!

While the newly arrived customer attracted my attention, I will admit that it was her companion that made my eyes pop out of their sockets. Dear Diary, Harold is on the outer! Because the man guiding Ms Shocking Pink was none other than Harold; the same Harold who had only the other day acted as though I was his chosen one.

I must have stared; one could hardly help it!

Ms Shocking Pink, noticing my undivided attentions, stretched up and whispered in Harold's ear ... in his ear in broad daylight! ... such a cheap move Dear Diary. Harold twisted around in response to her whisperings, and turning a bright shade of pink ... in embarrassment? ... he gave a slight smile in our direction before steering his companion across the other side of the room.

Our delicious meal arrived; Niece and I concentrated on our plates, and later exited without acknowledging Harold, or his companion.

Dear Diary, we live and learn.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday is Washday

Dear Diary, Autumn has arrived. It was almost cold this morning, which caused me to search through my wardrobe for my fleecy housecoat, and fluffy slippers. I know they are somewhere! After all it has been six months or more since I wore them last.

I know many folks love Monday's; I do, once I have been up for a couple of hours. Niece is definitely old fashioned in her ways and demands the beds all be stripped and bedding washed on a Monday. Sometimes I expect to see her lighting the copper, not that she has one, and setting up a tub with blue impregnated water for rinsing. Nor would I put it past her to starch pillow cases! She is over zealous at times.

Dutifully, remembering our moment of tenderness and kindness yesterday, I pulled the duvet back, stripped of the sheets and the pillow cases, and carried them to the laundry. Already Niece was busy. The washing machine was making those swirring noises associated with hard work, and the laundry basket sat in the centre of the floor with tea towels and table cloths, that require laundering first. I thought about asking why we needed to keep to the old rules as regards washing when we have automatic washing machines that empty out after each cycle ... but ... I decided against it.

What I love especially is when the lavender bushes are flowering and Niece throws the sheets over them to dry. Such a delightful perfume in the bed; so conducive to a restful sleep. There is nothing more pleasant on this whole earth than sleeping in freshly laundered bedding perfumed with lavender!

Sometimes, when I remember; sadly my memory does have those moments of forgetfulness, which I am often reminded is due to the 'aging process' ... what a ridiculous phrase for maturing ... after washing my hair under the shower I will tip a jug of rosemary scented water over my head for the final rinse. Often I forget. It is only when I am drying my long tresses that it suddenly dawns, I should have rinsed with rosemary!

Niece casually mentioned that she intended going into town later in the morning, for a little shopping, and perhaps a visit to the local Museum, which was holding a special exhibition. Would I like to go? Dear Diary, when have I ever turned down an invitation to an outing? In response to her generous offer I picked up the clothes basket, pulled on the peg apron, and helped peg out the wash. The sooner that is on the line swaying in the strong breeze the sooner we leave for town. Dear Diary, Niece also mentioned lunch at a delightful eating-house. Today has the makings of a great excitement!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Cheerful Day

Dear Diary, for those fortunate enough to be a Mum, today is their day. For me it is simply sad. I remember Darling Bobby Junior, and think of what could have been. But, I must not dwell on the long distant past. Especially when the future looms largely in my life ... it is just one huge map book with no index.
The day is spent quietly, but extremely pleasantly. Dear Niece tapped gently on my door this morning. I bade her enter, and hastened to open the door for her as I could ascertain that she was having a struggle on the other side of the entrance. Looking slightly flustered she carried a tray to my little table. A small lace cloth draped the tray that held goodies.

A delicate crystal vase held three small roses with a spray of maidenhair fern to highlight their pink blushness, a teapot cum cup, a bowl of fruit topped with cereal and yoghurt, plus a round of toast spread with my favourite ginger marmalade and cut into triangles were all arranged delectably on the tray. Niece bent over and kissing me gently on the cheek, murmured, "Happy Mother's Day Dear Aunt Alice".

I must have looked as surprised as I felt, as such an unsolicited act had never before been attempted.

She carried on, "Dear Aunt, you are more a Mother to me than an aunt!" And with that uttering, she turned and hurried out the room, but not before I noticed a tiny tear running down her face.

I chased after her. This was unprecedented Dear Diary! A show of sentiment from Niece is unheard of.

"Niece!" I called.

She turned, and I taking my opportunity, gave her a huge hug, thanked her for the wonderful gesture, and murmured that I too considered her as close to a daughter I could ever have.

The morning has gone so well. It is just amazing how a moments kindness lightens the heart and soul of an elderly aunt ... and I suspect that Niece is feeling as cheerful as I.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Bedroom

Dear Diary, it is only now that I feel able to sit and write; the mouse, Harold, Niece, all combined to upset my equilibrium no end.

So often we hear how a cup of tea is the cure-all for everything. It fails to work for me. Earl Grey, my favourite for afternoon tea, of the posh variety; English Breakfast, strong and black, or herbal teas simply left me cold over the last bleak days.

After the mouse episode, Harold, no doubt realising his display showed a lack of back-bone, of manly courage, said a hasty 'Bye' to me, gave Niece a hug, and exited the house. I am left wondering if perhaps Harold looks up to Niece's considerable stamina regarding unwarranted visits by rodents, or whether he is sucking up [not a nice word I know, but so suitable for this occasion] to Niece, in the hope of being on the receiving end of her morning teas. I have an inkling he is not adverse to a little gossip, which is another sign of his lack of genteel breeding.

At the moment my room is my haven, my shield from the uncouth acts of the outside world, the only place where I can be alone with my thoughts and indulge in a little nostalgia.

'My room', is hardly an apt description of my space in Niece and her man's house. Their home is a blend of past and present; the rooms are large and airy, yet not cold in winter. It was built as a family home for a wealthy banker who kept a maid for household chores, his wife being actively involved in civic matters. The maid was fortunate in that she occupied, what today would be classed as a Granny Flat within the home. Her quarters are my quarters. I have a small sitting room with a patio, where Harold and I sat and played Scrabble, and where he attempted to teach me Canasta, from where I can stroll out into the garden or wander further to the shade house where tomatoes, basil, and other herbs grow abundantly. The patio is sheltered from the prevailing winds that sometimes whistle through, as they journey from the interior towards the coast.

I have a bedroom with deep recessed windows with a window seat covered in delicate blue and pink and cream flowery cushions. It is in this spot I sit and read, or watch the myriad of birdlife that flock to the trees bounding the garden. My bed is gracious; a four-poster with cream drapes that are hooked back with blue ties; the quilt covering the Queen Size bed is in similar shades to the cushions. It is at this point I must applaud Niece's considerable efforts in her decor ... she crafted the cushions, and the quilt, and they are magnificent.

Off the bedroom lies a small bathroom, and a huge walk-in wardrobe with a twin-drawer dresser along one side. There is ample space for me, and my treasures.

Confidentially Dear Diary, as I lie awake in those long hours after mid-night, when my mind twirls and swirls with the deeds of the day, and the past, I do sometimes wonder why a banker and his wife found it essential to offer such luxury to a maid. Rumours, which I hasten to say are barely akin to gossip, have it that the only son of banker and wife, is in fact the son of banker and the maid. Of course one should hold no credence to rumours, but you know the old saying, 'where there is smoke, there is fire'.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Antics in the Bedroom

Dear Diary ... I hardly know where to begin. I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any!

Well, Harold followed me along the passage way that Niece has decorated to resemble a Portrait Gallery; not of long dead relatives, but of her endless forays into gardening. She has had a cacti garden; a water garden which came to a quick end ... the sprinkler system switched itself off whilst we were all away on a two-month visit to my sister, Niece's Mother, in the 'old country'. Nothing but dry wizened plants on our return! She dabbled in roses, decided the thorns were too brutal to tender hands; she turned her hand to orchids; and even planted out a vegetable garden after watching a re-run of The Good Life on TV. The whole effect is overwhelming; gardens of all varieties the length of the passageway!

Harold and I sat down comfortably. I was in half a mind whether to show him the old photos, or whether we should simply play Scrabble, though that idea I quickly relegated to the back of my mind when that word 'Canasta' flitted across my half closed eyes like a flickering old black and white movie. Harold began a long rambling conversation about a car he had owned when a teenager. Dear Diary, I know nothing about cars. I do actually ... they take one from Point A to Point B.

My mind was wandering to the long country drives I had with Darling Bobby, and I was smiling to myself as I recalled how we stopped to picnic in a secluded glade, where I suspect Bobby Junior was conceived ... I could feel the blush rising to my cheeks and hurriedly changed the pathway of my thinking. My eyes were closed. It is easier to travel into the past when the present is not visible.

Suddenly I felt something on my arm. In the beginning I assumed it was Harold trying to be amorous ... he has embarked on strange conversations regarding loneliness, and how lovely it would be to have a companion to live with. I ignore those comments! The tickling began again, but it did not feel like a human hand. My eyes shot open. I screamed. There, running down the front of my cardigan sleeve was a mouse. I screamed again ... loud and long! Harold jumped up, and upon noticing my distress, climbed onto the bed in an effort to dodge the mouse.

Dear Diary ... until this moment I considered Harold a gentleman, a gentleman who would rush to the aid of a lady in distress. Dear Diary Harold is a wimp!

In chorus we let out an ear-splitting scream, Niece ran into the room, noticed the cause of our agitation, and grabbing a nearby broom proceeded to chase the mouse out of the room. Whew! Dear Diary, I badly need another cup of tea!

A Surprise Visit

Dear Diary, There was a gentle knock on the front door around mid-morning; Niece, who was busy making a doll for a small relative for an upcoming birthday, hurriedly placed her work on the work table to see who was visiting. To my amazement I heard her ushering the guest in before she called to me to come into the kitchen for a cuppa. Obviously this guest was someone whom Niece knew well! It has been her habit to invite guests into the dining room, where she sets the table with bone china cups, and lays a spread of crackers and cheese, sweet biscuits, and invariably a home-made cake, though that man of hers often raids the cake tin on his way to the office ... he has a sweet tooth.

Hurrying along the passage it was possible to hear the conversation being held. Harold had popped in! Seems that he feels guilty about his sudden departure the other day, and there was I thinking I had been a little strident after the mishap with poor Greensmith and Redshaw. [Hearing that little tidbit gave me a clue as to how to react when I walked into the room. Forewarned is forearmed!]

I tapped at the kitchen door, in a show of genteelism; and ladylike, walked in.

"Harold, my dear!" I gushed. "How lovely to see you." I place a kiss on his cheek, noticing he had used Old Spice aftershave before leaving home.

Harold blushed at my effusive welcome, though restrained himself enough not to kiss me back. I had hoped he would; Niece would have had something to tell that man of hers after work when I was safely ensconced in my room.

Niece played Mother, pouring tea, offering milk and sugar, and passed around the well-laden cake plates. Give Harold his due; he must have come out without eating breakfast as he sampled every offering, praising Niece for her wonderful baking.

It was obvious that I wouldn't get a word in this morning; Niece and Harold were deep in conversation while I gazed around the room looking for a means of escape.

"Harold," cooed Niece, " how long have you lived in Newtown? Are you a widower? How do you fill in the days of your retirement?"

I sat, waiting anxiously for the question 'How much money do you have in the bank?' Niece did display some decorum as she enquired of Harold if he read much. I breathed a sigh of relief. This morning tea was becoming an inquisition. There had to be some way to divert Harold's attention.

"Oh Harold," I said, "Would you like to come and see how Greensmith and Redshaw have settled in after their upset the other day?"

Harold grasped the opportunity to leave the conversation that had become too personal, and together we headed to my room where the goldfish awaited inspection.

Dear Diary, you have to admit that inspecting goldfish is an improvement on the old line, come upstairs and view my etchings!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Dear Diary, Life has settled down again ~ thank goodness. All the excitement of the past few days left me breathless, which is not a good state for a lady of a genteel nature to be in. For one thing, if I am breathless I am unable to communicate; by speaking. A quiet Aunt Alice is a rarity!

In an effort to keep myself quietly occupied I searched the bottom of the wardrobe for the tins of photos. I really must take scrapbooking classes and learn how to store photos of not only my childhood, but also photos of great grandparents. Once Niece asked me about family history, but when I began relating what is a rather long genealogical line her eyes became glazed over; I quietly ran the conversation to an end without telling her any of the exciting events prior to either of our births.

She has yet to learn that great, several times over, grandfather, was a whaler and sealer, how his parents were Australian convicts; she does not know the trials and tribulations other ancestors had after leaving the hills of Scotland to embark on a life as farmers on farms that were not broken in. How their lives slowly became better, how their crops and animals held the family on the land, nor of how they carved a niche for themselves in a foreign land.

Perhaps I could make a scrapbook relating some of these fascinating stories, and include photos that are stored in the old biscuit tins in the bottom of the wardrobe?

Dear Diary, I wonder how the women managed with no shops? They would have sewed garments by hand, they grew gardens, and raised large families by today's standards. Some lived to an old age, which I guess does show that hard work never killed anyone. Then again, maybe I won't mention that last fact to Niece ... she might take that as an invitation for me to consider helping around the house!

Harold hasn't been in touch since yesterday's fiasco Dear Diary. In fact the day is dragging. I am beginning to wonder if I prefer a life of excitement to the sedate life of an elderly lady, not that I am that elderly, but I am a Lady.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Over-abundance of Water

Dear Diary, Harold and I sat out on my little patio where I was being educated in the rudiments of Canasta. I fear my life education is sadly lacking. Cards never played a part in my formative years; in fact my parents looked down their noses at 'others who gambled', and that included cards. Hearing Harold speak in such glowing terms of what he considers a social activity, I allowed myself to be persuaded to learn Canasta. What a difficult game it is! I found the hand of cards he dealt me almost too large to hold, and as for fanning them out ... I have a lot to learn. Frankly Dear Diary I prefer Scrabble, but to humour Harold I will persevere for another day or two.

We we sitting out on the little patio, a teapot nearby, when I heard Niece entering my room. I had, wrongly I now know, assumed that my room was MY ROOM. She was poking around, moving my treasures ... I know the sound of my Lladro ballet dancer being slid across the shiny wooden surface of my display shelf ... that particular figurine was a present from an admirer over 20 years ago.

Not being pleased at an invasion I flung open the door with its stained glass picture of a red rose on its upper half; frightening Niece in the process. She dropped the ballet dancer, which thankfully didn't break. It did knock against the aquarium that I inadvertently had balanced too close to the edge of the table underneath the display shelf, and sent the aquarium crashing to the floor. Poor Greensmith and Redshaw! They lay, gasping out of water, on the carpet, which was dripping wet in the vicinity of the accident.

Horrified, forgetting to read the riot act to Niece for her unwarranted intrusion, I bent down to retrieve my dear goldfish. Niece look suitably subdued! Serves her right! She set about mopping up the water before I reminded her that my fish were without a home. Chastened she hurried out of the room, and bringing back a bucket of water, filled the tank enabling me to return Greensmith and Redshaw to their rightful home.

Perhaps Niece will keep to her own domain in future. Harold departed rather promptly as the incident progressed. I do hope I wasn't too strident in my retorts to Niece!