Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Revelation

Dear Diary, Anne is feeling much better and able to walk easier. As a small treat for ourselves, after our almost housebound few days, we decided to go on a shopping trip to town. Not that we need to purchase any particular item, other than a few essentials for our survival ... slippers were high on that list.

I forgot to bring slippers with me; one of the drawbacks of hasty packing! Tomorrow is the first of spring and wouldn't you know it! The shops are full of spring clothes; no slippers worth their name. Oh there was a pair of towelling slip-ons, eminently suitable for the short trip from bathroom to bedroom; but barely comfortable for wearing around the house during the day. A trip out the back door to the garden for a few flowers would see them reduced to a messy blob. While I was not rude or nasty to the shop assistant I did query why shops filled their shelves and racks with summery garments when it was raining outdoors. Evidently this practice is common place. I did express my disapproval, and walked out empty handed.

As we wandered along the street a craft shop caught my attention. An idea slipped into mind. Purposely we walked into the interior of this Aladdin's Cave of crafty wonders; I found a pattern for knitted slippers, purchased needles and wool. Dear Diary, there are more than one way to skin a cat! I will make a pair of slippers, and while they too will not stand the outdoors, at least they will be all my own effort.

Anne's ankle began to throb. Lunchtime was nigh. The heady aroma of coffee poured out of a busy cafe, and as the lunch crowd had not yet left offices and work places, an early lunch made a lot of sense. A seat in the corner beckoned; after seating Anne and ascertaining what she fancied I headed up to the counter to order toasted sandwiches and flat whites. While Anne hadn't mentioned sweets my roving eye noticed a cabinet of cakes. Not for many years have I bitten into Neenish tarts; we deserved a small treat; Neenish tarts fitted into the treat category. A lovely waitress offered to carry the tray to the table once the sandwiches were ready. Dear Diary while I was thankful as balancing a tray laden with food and full coffee cups can be a scary exercise, I did wonder if she thought I may be a little dottery and unable to carry the load. In such circumstances it is best to offer effusive thanks and allow the service be carried out.

By the time I rejoined Anne the cafe was filling up. Working folk from nearby businesses and factories pushed through the open door and lined up for coffees and teas. Hot food in the bain-marie appeared extremely popular. Anne whispered that a busy cafe is a good cafe; a statement I wholeheartedly agreed with.

A well-dressed woman stood gazing around the room looking for a suitable place to sit. I stared. Surely this elegant tall slender woman dressed in a trim dress and matching coat, clothes that were seldom seen in this day and age, was Hazel Bottomly? As I leaned to ask Anne, she nudged me. When I looked questioningly Anne nudged me and in a quiet voice said the lady was none other than the widow Richard was interested in. Dear Diary, my thoughts raced!

"Anne," I said, "is that Hazel Bottomly?"

Anne looked dubious. She wasn't sure, in fact didn't know Hazel Bottomly lived in the area.

No sooner had this little exchange taken place, than the lady in question looked our way, a frown crossing her forehead. A sudden recognition registered. As she reached our table she enquired if she could sit with us. Anne and I nodded. By then Dear Diary I was agog with curiosity.

Offering my hand I introduced myself, and Anne. A small laugh escaped the newcomer's lips.

"Alice! It is you!"

"Hazel Bottomly!" I exclaimed, and introduced Anne.

We chatted and caught up with the past decades until our sandwiches arrived. Hazel had ordered, her meal arriving shortly afterwards.

Dear Diary, I was most discreet. Not once did I mention Richard, though I was eager to know how her life was.

Anne broached the subject.

"Hazel," she said, "I am sorry to hear of the death of your husband. Please accept my condolences."

Adding my sympathies I was surprised to see a smile cross Hazel's features. This was the first newly widowed lady I had seen who didn't appear sad.

"Thank you both," Hazel replied. "While my husband and I lived under the same roof, we led separate lives for the last ten years. I actually have a man friend, and once a suitable time has elapsed Derek and I will marry."

Dear Diary, Anne and I stared at each other. Thank goodness neither of us had mentioned Richard. Now we have a lot of questions for that gentleman!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Sighting

Dear Diary, What promised to be a day of indoors and finding ways of enticing excitement to enter into the theme of the day had a strange twist.

I find it hard to believe that Richard, who is purported to be chasing a widow, is truly enamoured with this lady, whom I have not yet had the pleasure of even setting eyes upon. Anne assures me she is a quiet lady known for keeping to herself. It seems rather unusual that Richard, who is fancy free, and as they say, carries little baggage, doesn't just telephone the woman and invite her out. Rather he comes along to Anne and prattles on and on and on. Quite frankly I find the man a trifle boring, though today Dear Diary he broke that boring mould.

Anne and I were sitting relaxing with a second coffee, accompanied by a chocolate mint biscuit, which I will confess as being one of my favourite biscuits, if biscuits are not home made. There is a rather delicious slice, chocolate with cornflakes to add a crunch, iced firstly with a peppermint icing, and topped with a thick chocolate icing; very decadent! The packet biscuits run a close second in flavour, and far excel the slice in the battle to maintain the waistline.

Richard knocked and walked in. I am still surprised that he has the temerity to waltz in and out as he sees fit. In my day it was considered manners, and manners maketh a man Dear Diary, to knock and wait, patiently, until the door was opened and one was invited in. I am not sure if I altogether like the casualness of today, but I digress. His excitement showed! Anne graciously offered him a coffee and thrust the biscuit plate towards him. He seemed oblivious to her courtesy; ordered the pair of us to put on shoes and come with him.

With a quizzical glance at Anne I wondered if he had perhaps lost the plot. After all full moon had just passed. However as we had nothing planned we could hardly make excuses. I helped Anne out to Richard's up-market, pale blue, convertible Volvo quietly wondering the total accumulation of Richard's assets. Did his arrogance stem from wealth? However as we sped along the street heading to the outskirts of town it was a matter of holding onto one's hair. The wind whistling past was exhilarating. Soon we were travelling along a quiet country lane. Richard stopped, opened the doors for us to disembark, and whispering to us to walk quietly and not talk, ushered us to the edge of a small coppice. He pointed upwards. There in a straggly gum tree sat an owl, wide-awake observing our every movement.

Anne and I were awestruck. Such a beautiful bird! We were not certain as to which species of owl it belonged, but did consider this owl to be a youngster. Maybe it had not long been sent out to explore new territory and make its own way in the world? Thankfully, and I must retract some of my comments about him, Richard had brought a camera with him. Not exactly brought it with him he confessed. He always carried a camera in the car, as he never knew when an opportunity would arise for a masterpiece.

We stayed for some moments, staring upwards, enthralled with this sighting. Not only had Anne and I never seen an owl at night, apart from a glimpse of a ghostly apparition and a whirr of wings many years ago when camping out, we had certainly never been close enough to notice its bright eyes inquisitively following our every move.

Impulsively I hugged Richard for showing us the owl; this sighting is a memory neither Anne nor I will ever forget.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Scrapbook

Dear Diary, It seems that once we are part of a family those ties are seldom loosened. Not that I mind that fact, but sometimes it would be rather nice to have a holiday from the rat race that is Home.

Anne assured me she felt much better, that statement belied her limp and the nasty bruise showing blue and yellow on her shin. I insisted she rest for the day. Anne revealed that after my previous visit she had taken photos and had ideas of making a scrapbook to record the wonderful time we shared. I smiled in agreement. This little project could fill in much of the day and wouldn't entail too much movement on Anne's part.

Anne directed me to a large cardboard box, covered with signs signifying its contents had once been the slow cooker that turns out a wonderful curry. Hauling the box out from behind the couch I carefully placed it on the table where we intended to begin our project. [Dear Diary, I found Anne's secret hiding place! The small space between couch and wall is home to other cardboard boxes, several of which are decorated with fabrics and other with brightly coloured paper. Anne does not believe in plastic storage boxes!] A large envelope filled with photos of my previous visit fell to the floor scattering its contents across the carpet. A moment of bending exercise on my part restored them to their rightful packet. I peered into the depths of the box, which revealed a veritable treasure cove. Lovely scrapbooking papers, paints and embellishments; more than enough to create a masterpiece.

As I was a relative new hand to scrapbooking Anne cheerfully acted as tutor. Soon we were engrossed in our work, ideas flowed as we cut and held photos to the card with double-sided tape that had a disconcerting habit of turning on itself at the critical moment. Dear Diary, the difficult part was actually choosing which photos to use. Deciding to have a two-page spread on the one theme it took a short time to sort enough photos to fill the small album Anne had in the bottom of the container. Time flew by. We laughed as we reminisced over the photos, wondered why some were posed and terribly artificial looking.

Before we knew it lunch time had ticked around. Neither felt like cooking, neither felt like taking too much time over food. Instead I raided the refrigerator finding yoghurt and fruit; strawberries that were first for the season. Coffee or tea would have ruined a lunch like that. Anne confessed she had a bottle of homemade crab apple wine in the cupboard in the hallway; and with a guilty look wondered if it were too early in the day to sample it.

Dear Diary, Anne couldn't have been more wrong! Not that I needed a wine at lunch, but Anne had a sore leg and sorely needed perking up. Before she had time to change her mind I found the bottle, opened it with much aplomb, and poured the clear golden liquid into Anne's best crystal glasses. After all if one is going to partake of crab apple wine, homemade, at lunch, it should be served in the best glassware, not in a washed out Vegemite glass.

The afternoon flew. The album grew, and by late afternoon the photos and the accompanying journaling expressed a true account of the adventure of two elderly ladies at the seaside.

Goodnight Dear Diary ... This day has been rather wonderful!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sand and Rocks

Dear Diary, The sun shone from a clear blue sky, the birds whistling a morning chorus louder and sweeter in spring, and as Anne and I had no particular plans in mind our breakfast table discussion centred on how to fill in the day. Not that there isn't enough to occupy two elderly ladies. Spring is in the air, our spirits soared, an outing seemed a wonderful way to enjoy the day.

Where to go? Well Dear Diary, Anne lives but a hop and a step from the beach. The waves slid onto the sandy shore, leaving a smattering of foam resembling the washing machine before the first load is placed in. There was no need to go further. Gathering together a couple of small towels, a flask of tea, two ham and mustard sandwiches on thinly sliced bread, because Dear Diary today we intended acting like the ladies we are, and secreted into a small container placed carefully in the basket were two pieces of Anne's delightful shortbread. We had enough sustenance to allow us several hours wandering along the tide mark.

The seagulls strode along the sand, convinced they had the sole rights to the beach. How I wished for a dog at that moment! We picked up shells, some delicate after their arduous journey from the deep, others split and cracked with age. That these shells add to the sand on the shoreline was obvious; some were closer to sand than shells. I carried a piece of stick, partly as a walking aid, and partly to poke amongst the seaweed lying in untidy heaps at the high tide mark. I like to think that one day I will find some ambergris or some other treasure; perhaps a letter in a bottle even! Ambergris looks such a ho-hum substance, but its worth as a fixative in perfumes is exceptional. I wonder if the rich and famous who dab their pressure points with expensive perfume realise part of that dabbing comes from the intestine of a sperm whale. As Anne and I discussed the connection between sperm whales and perfume we burst into fits of laughter. What a scenario!

We wandered across to a rocky outcrop where small pools glistened in the morning sun. Cockabullies darted between the jutting edges, and a star fish appeared to be lying on a ledge enjoying the warmth from the sun. So much life in those rock pools if we sit and watch. A large wave crashed closer sending us scuttling towards the relative safety of the sand.

As we hopped down from the last rock Anne slipped landing in a bundle on the damp sand. As I attempted to help her to her feet she groaned in pain clutching her ankle, which was caught under her body in an awkward way. It did not look good Dear Diary, and in a kind of panic I peered up and down the beach for a good Samaritan.

A gentleman rushed over and offered to help. As I began to thank him Anne exclaimed, "Richard! What are you doing here?"

Dear Diary, the knight in non-shining armour was indeed Richard. I didn't care what he was doing there! Instead between us we managed to haul Anne to her feet and using my stick with Richard and I on either side, we managed to get her to Richard's car, which was parked nearby. Anne rested for a while. We tried desperately to persuade her to go to Outpatients at the hospital, but she was insistent she was alright, in spite of the yellow/blue bruise makings itself obvious on her ankle.

As she kept on refusing to go for medical help, there was no option for us but to take her home.

After a short while she professed to be much better, and could indeed manage to walk with the aid of the stick. We agreed to review the situation the tomorrow.

I rustled up some more sandwiches, raided the tin for shortbread, and made a pot of tea. Richard stayed for a short while, but after drinking two cups of tea left ... he had chores to attend to. Anne gave me a wicked wink as he murmured his apologies and goodbye's ... she knows where his interests lie!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baking up a Storm?

Dear Diary, How lovely it is to share one's day with a friend.

Anne and I have been extremely busy after I expressed the desire to make an apron. Sadly I forgot to pop my rather elderly pinny into my bag in my rush to pack, and as we have been baking [shortbread and orange cake ... simply scrumptious], plus gathering vegetables from Anne's garden, my clothes were beginning to need washing almost every day.

Anne has a rather large trunk in her back room that we hauled into the kitchen where we tipped the contents onto the floor. While the appearance of chaos was almost evident we did find some surprises. I was not aware Anne was a closet stitcher! She had small pieces of many fabrics, large pieces of a small number of fabrics and cottons in almost every colours of the rainbow. Where to begin?

Aprons can be useful, or they can be decorative, or better still, they can be decorative and useful. That is the type of apron I like best! Anne also has a rather large collection of craft magazines. How she ever thinks she will make one article from each magazine is beyond my belief, but, as a good friend who wishes to preserve that status, I never uttered a word. [In fact Dear Diary, I managed to secret a bundle to my room to peruse at my leisure.]

One particular pattern captured our attention almost simultaneously. So easy to make a choice when we both preferred the one pattern! We measured, we cut, and we sewed a couple of aprons. One was very pretty featuring a cup cake fabric, but this was hardly practical for daily wearing in a busy kitchen, such as Anne's kitchen promises to become.

The second one we decided to use a pretty fabric in a plain salmon pink, combined with a print featuring pink buds, and pale gold chrysanthemums on a background of black and white stripes. In a frivolous moment I added some wide black ric rac braid, and commented how it would suit Niece. Anne burst into a fit of giggles. I looked at her wondering if perhaps she had lost part of her mind. Still laughing she said she thought the apron would more suit a tart. Dear Diary I was shocked! After taking a second, longer look, I could see where Anne was coming from. No ... Hester would not appreciate that apron. Pity though!

Changing tack and thinking along serious lines we decided upon using the same black and white fabric with the pink and gold flowers, but backing it with serviceable green gingham, and using the same gingham for ties, pockets, and a bottom trim. Anne thought a little white ric rac would be a pleasing addition, and not too tarty.

Dear Diary, the baking was successful. As the warm aroma drifted outdoors a tap, tap at the kitchen door alerted us to an impending visitor. Anne whispered to me it was probably Richard. I stared at Anne. Did she have a man friend? Who was this Richard? Was I to call him Richard or Dick? Before I had time to form a query an older gent walked into the kitchen.

Anne greeted him warmly and introduced me as her best friend, which I must admit made me feel rather proud.

We sat down to a slice of still warm orange cake accompanied by a cup of Earl Grey. Dear Diary, I resisted the temptation to hold out my little finger as we sipped from the bone china cups, part of a tea set that I assumed Anne kept only for show. Conversation flowed quickly. Richard is a great talker. His main topic of conversation included the name Hope. Hope this and Hope that. In the beginning I wondered if he had a crush on Hope, though had no idea who Hope was. Anne smiled a lot. The whole scenario was puzzling.

Later Richard thanked Anne for the conversation, cake and cuppa, and took his leave.

Dear Diary, it took me less than two minutes to quiz Anne. It turns out Richard has his sights set on a newly widowed lady a few streets away. He hasn't asked her out, indeed hasn't spoken to her, but feeds his fantasy by talking to Anne. Anne is such a kind person she plays along. I am not sure I could be bothered!

I must say that already in the few days I have been here at the seaside with Anne have been relaxing; I find laughter bubbles close to the surface regularly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Up and Away

Dear Diary, If things need doing, 'tis best to do them fast! Maybe that is not the exact quote my Father used, but very close to it. Not that he ever decided a course of action quickly. It was his way to think, consider, think again, and then and only then, if the idea appeared to be suitable for the occasion, he acted. The fact that some of these actions took place months, or even years later was beside the point. A lesson told is a lesson learned.

Well things needed doing. Arrangements needed making. Actions were taken.

Dear Diary, here I am at the seaside home of my friend Anne, who was delighted to have me share her life for a time. At the moment no time limit has been placed on my visit; Anne is indeed a dear friend who understands the necessity I felt for getting away from the shambles at Niece's place.

I am too old to listen to ramblings of a pregnant girl, the rantings of the man who made her pregnant, and the fussing of the mother and her husband. Too much of a good thing!

In my naive innocence I blithely assumed the news of a pregnancy for a young couple, albeit unmarried, but promised, should be exciting and that planning for the arrival would fill the days with pleasure. Dear Diary, I am a fool, an old fool of a woman! Though deep inside I still feel my naive idea is how it should be. This poor child who will be born into a reasonably wealthy family, and therefore not poor in the normal expression of the word, will need to earn a place in the hearts of the parents. Unless of course, common sense rules.

Deciding upon a little subterfuge I announced I was cycling to the shop for the morning paper and disregarded Hester's astonished stare. No doubt she wondered why I needed a newspaper when one was delivered daily to the house. Each morning a cheerful lad tossed a plastic wrapped newspaper onto the lawn, often missing the garden, and sometimes even missing the property; instead loping it into the neighbour's tall tree that overhung our boundary fence. I had no desire to purchase a newspaper. I simply needed to use the public telephone box and blurt my troubles into Anne's sympathetic ear. Halfway through my tale Anne broke in with a suggestion; the suggestion I fervently wished for. And Dear Diary, here I am, at Anne's where life is calm.

Travelling down in the coach I peered out the smudgy window, though the scenery outside that window remained a mystery for much of the journey. My mind was not on the journey; my mind was not on the journey. Tumultuous thoughts tumbled through my mind; and for a moment Dear Diary, I feared for my sanity.

Once I arrived at the seaside Anne's cheerful presence immediately calmed my anxiety. A welcome cup of coffee combined with ham and mustard sandwiches helped ease my apprehension. Gradually a feeling of peace flowed over me, as I relaxed in quiet company. Dear Diary, I am here for I know not how long, but Dear Diary, already I am appreciating the absence of turmoil.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In the Morning

Dear Diary, I have a confession. The 'episode' in the dead of night upset my sleep. I tossed. I turned. Sleep evaded me until dawn when I fell into a fitful sleep punctuated by nightmares.

My life in this household has always been pleasant; small skirmishes quickly resolved, and relative peace reigned for years. The arguing, the midnight niggling, and a feeling that war is about to break out at any moment are upsetting. How Niece is coping is beyond thinking about. Phil will ensure life remains calm; he has a calming influence, but over recent days even Phil has shown signs of impatience. As I lay in bed, my thoughts racing, a headache developed. I did stagger to the bathroom for an Aspirin, which helped the head, and no doubt relaxed me enough to enable the fitful sleep.

As I awoke an idea sprung to mind. Escape! Take a break.

No sooner had the thought surfaced than Karen hurried to the bathroom. This morning sickness is dragging her down.

Dear Diary, I took it upon myself to offer assistance. From the depths of my subconscious a remedy emerged. A cup of sweet tea and a dry biscuit is an unusual combination if you give it any thought, and not one that I knew to be a positive cure. Still, better to try than to ignore the poor girl. By the time she entered the kitchen the 'remedy' was ready. Sitting her down at the table I insisted she try it. Admittedly Milk Arrowroot biscuits, without the addition of butter and honey as I prefer them, is rather boring. However, give Karen her due, she sipped and nibbled. Slowly she recovered, though whether it was the tea and biscuit or just that the sickness had passed I am not sure.

Niece came into the room ... she had set the washing machine going for a load of washing. As we all sat around the table the discussion centred on the row we had inadvertently heard during the night. Karen was apologetic. Jake was not sure he was ready to be a father; Karen desired this baby. The fact they had no home, and now Karen's hopes of finding a job in the short term were lessening by the day, we agreed things were not looking good.

Hester, egged on by an earlier conversation with Phil, enquired how long Karen and Jake would stay in this house.

Karen look shocked. Clearly the idea of moving out in the meantime had not crossed her mind. It appeared to me that a young couple expecting their first child, whether it was 100% welcome this early in the pregnancy, would prefer their own home; a place to raise a child. The look on Karen's face showed otherwise. Oh dear, I fear my nightmare is coming to fruition.

There are arrangements to be made!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Midnight Matters

Dear Diary, My last entry began, 'it almost beggars belief'. Once again that is the only suitable phrase to begin today's entry.

Men! I was flabbergasted to wake in the middle of the night to hear the sound of raised voices and sobbing. Honestly I didn't intend listening, but when no other noises break the darkness, and because the night was not that warm I had no desire to pull the blankets over my head to diminish the sound, I slowly wakened and listened. Dear Diary, I am not proud of that fact, and I implore you not to reveal this distasteful side of my nature, a side that seldom shows, because in all honesty I am nearly always a reasonably respectable quiet natured woman.

As the sounds became clearer it became obvious Karen and Jake were involved in a full-scale quarrel. Poor Karen! A girl in such a delicate situation should take care of her mental health. Sobbing inconsolably is not good. Jake was sounding forth about Karen's pregnancy!

"How!" he demanded, "did Karen manage to get pregnant?"

Dear Diary, I have to confess to smothering an escaping giggle. Did her have no idea at all? Or perhaps he had assumed that Karen was in the same category as the Virgin Mary? Immaculate conception or the like! From snippets of conversations between young school age children I thought everyone today knew about sex. [Sorry Dear Diary, I can find no other word, but I did whisper it.]

Jake was ranting on and on about how it would be impossible for him to support a wife and a child. Yet Dear Diary, I was of the impression the wedding was postponed. Let us hope it isn't cancelled! It struck me as humorous as there were Karen and Jake living with Karen's long lost and only recently found birth mother, and Jake was concerned about supporting others! He had made no effort to find a house for the pair of them, and by the way this conversation was heading it appeared as though a move would not be in the offing!

Just as I had decided to roll over and go back to sleep, closing my mind to the row that was now being carried on in quieter tones, the hallway light switched on.

Phil's voice boomed towards Karen and Jake, demanding they keep the din down, as he had to work in the morning. His last words were, "Things are always better in the light of day!" Wise words Phil! Thankfully Karen and Jake took the hint; their discussion died down; Karen's sobbing diminished. Peace descended upon the household, though heaven only knows what the morning will bring!

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Baby's knuckle?

Dear Diary, It almost beggars belief that a modern miss of today's generation failed to consider pregnancy as a possible reason for her morning sickness. And that this girl's mother also failed to put two and two together. Dear Diary, it appears that some of the older generation do serve a useful purpose in a family! Not that I am suggesting I was on the lookout for a pregnancy, but honestly ... vomiting every morning does, surely, lead one to suspect pregnancy.

All is well now. Karen had a doctor's appointment this morning and arrived home full of smiles. We have left her to make the official announcement to the prospective Dad. It does seem that a wedding will be postponed until after the event. While this is not the solution I would have come up with, it ill behooves me to suggest an immediate wedding. Times have changed! No longer are unwed mothers frowned upon by the rest of society, and thankfully children born before nuptials do not need to be introduced to society as a little brother or sister. There is a lot to be said for today's open acceptance of children arriving into a family.

I did show Karen the lemon knitting wool and she is thrilled to think I am knitting already for the newborn. Frankly, Dear Diary, I would love if after her scan she would drop a hint as to the sex of the babe, but am loathe to suggest that as well. There are sometimes when an older relative should, as the young ones say, 'butt out'.

There is one problem that does cause me some concern. Where will the new arrival sleep? Will Karen and Jake still go house hunting, or will they simply dig in with Niece and Phil? No doubt a solution will be found, and once again I do not consider I should be asking such a question; well not at the moment anyway! Let this exciting piece of information have time to sink in with the others.

I am contemplating suggesting Phil built another bathroom! But hopefully Karen will soon pass this early stage and bloom.

In the meantime, I am sitting on the patio, in a sheltered corner where the sun is shining and the breeze is diverted, knitting the lemon wool.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Time for Needles?

Dear Diary ... Finally the cat is out of the bag, which is of course a simile for a major news announcement.

This morning there was a queue at the bathroom door. Niece explained that Karen wasn't feeling well. I headed for the toilet near the back door, the one those pottering in the garden should use as the floor is easily mopped; but for some reason it seldom sees a soul; the paper only needs changing once in a blue moon, but when nature calls it hardly matters which toilet we use. The moment I turned the corner to the back passage Niece called out not to bother.

"Why ever not?" I queried.

"Phil is in there!"

Oh, not much sense in walking the distance I surmised, and rather than stand in a queue for heaven only knows how long, I wandered outside to check on the garden. Nothing much altered there!

Outside the shed several stacks of timber were beginning to take shape. I remembered the frenzy of the 'boys' at the weekend, and while it still wasn't obvious the exact shape of the finished project it did show signs of being some sort of Gazebo. Mmmm ... A gazebo in the garden! I rather like the idea of that Dear Diary. Perhaps I could sit there in the cool of a summer evening and read a book?

What with Karen 'not feeling well' and spending too much time in the bathroom each morning, I could find myself knitting that lemon baby wool.

A thought entered my previously dim mind. Did Niece have any inkling of why Karen was not feeling well? From her actions and lack of excitement that the knowledge of such an event would normally invoke I feel that she is unaware of the fact she may be a grandmother within a few months. For a moment I contemplated my actions. Should I wait until Karen and Jake made an announcement, or should I drop loaded hints as to the state of affairs as I see it?

In a quandary I wandered back indoors. Thankfully the bathroom was empty. An older lady has a limited bladder capacity!

From the kitchen I heard murmuring voices. It was time for breakfast. Assuming a nonchalant air I strolled into the kitchen and, as is normal for me, reached for the packet of sachet oats that cook in seconds in the microwave oven.

"Anyone for oats?" I asked.

Karen looked pale. Obviously oats and Karen were not on the best of terms at this time of the morning. Niece nodded to me, and suggested I make a pot of porridge, as 'the boys' would be in for breakfast in a moment. One bowl or a pot of porridge makes little difference to me. After adding a little salt I stirred the pot until a nourishing meal was cooked. Dear Diary, I am fully aware one should not have sugar on porridge, but a little brown sugar sprinkled on the top, before pouring cooling milk, is a real treat. There is no better way to start a day than with a treat!

Taking the bull by the horns, literally Dear Diary ... we do not countenance bulls in the kitchen at Hester and Phil's place, I asked Karen how she was feeling. Just one look at her told me.

"Aunt Alice," she mumbled, "I feel awful!"

"Karen, my dear", I replied. "You will feel better in the mornings in a few weeks."

She looked at me astounded.

Dear Diary, the young of today seem to think anyone older than thirty knows nothing about the ways of the world!

"It's alright Karen," I said. "I think I know the reason for your malaise. I suggest you visit your doctor for confirmation."

A little smile crossed Karen's white peaky face.

"Aunt, nothing escapes your eyes does it!"

At this point, Dear Diary, the penny dropped with Niece. Her face was a picture, a movie picture, as expression after expression crossed her features.

"Karen! Karen! You are pregnant?"

Karen smiled; shyly replying she thought she might be.

"Karen," I interjected. "I am certain you are!"

It was a rather emotional moment Dear Diary. I have sorted out some knitting patterns for that lemon wool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Workday Monday

Dear Diary, Mondays are busy days ... it has always been a policy of mine to tackle housework on a Monday, with the thought in mind that Tuesday can be a 'me day'; a day when I can indulge myself and not worry about tidying or cleaning. As I share this house with Niece I consider it my duty to help with the cleaning. Niece is rather pig-headed and tries to insist I keep out of her way.

Not that I would dream of going into the master bedroom! When passing the open door I am often dumbfounded at the state of the floor. Phil is untidy! Perhaps I should qualify that ... Phil is a man who has no idea of tidiness. He has shoes lying all over the floor and how either of them navigate their way to the door is beyond me. Poor Niece; she does try.

My quarters are my domain, and are in keeping with my work ethos. Keep it tidy all the time and no major clean-up is required. Shoes go into their rack at the bottom of the wardrobe; clothes that will do another turn are hung up. It is a simple ethic. Every so often, particularly on a beautiful, almost spring day like today, I undertake a mini spring clean. The bed is changed; the mattress protector washed; the duvet cover washed and hung out in the morning fresh air. Mats are shaken and the carpet swept. The furniture is polished with a wonderful lavender scented polish, and the lace curtains washed and hung out to dry. By mid afternoon everything was dry, bedding back on the bed and the curtains hung on shiny windows. There is a great deal of pleasure to be obtained from such a spring clean!

Tomorrow Dear Diary I will have a day to myself, a day when I can, if I choose, sit in my room, or out on the patio if the day is as lovely as today, and read.

What the rest of the household gets up to is their business. My sense of achievement today overcomes the feeling of tiredness.