Thursday, May 21, 2015

I am grateful, again, for all your sympathy and advice. It had already (but only just) occurred to us that some sort of tranquilliser might soften my husband's mood and make life easier for all. Greek Helen is trying to consult the GP – he didn't have a telephone slot available yesterday. She will be here in propria persona this afternoon – that'll be wonderful. Something involving tofu and aubergine, I think, for supper.

I felt greatly strengthened by my day off yesterday, and Alexander reported that the visit wasn't as bad as he expected.

This afternoon someone from a private care firm is coming in to assess us. We had someone else of that sort on Tuesday – but they haven't been able to specify a starting date yet.


Yesterday evening I finally found an Old Maiden Aunt shade in the right yarn which was in stock – and which didn't bat me away when I tried to order two skeins. It's called “Hebridean” I think, and it's on its way. Now I'll have to buy the pattern and knit it!

I'm enjoying Nancy Bush's class. She's lovely, like someone I might have known in college. I like the oatmeal-y yarn she's using for the sample shawl, to the extent that I feel tempted to root around in stash and see if I could find something that might do. That would be ridiculous. I've got more than enough knitting already, with more on the way. The Tokyo shawl moved forward nicely yesterday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yesterday's hospital visit was very tough, despite the comforting and sensible presence of a dear friend. My poor husband, bad-tempered throughout life, has always been able to impose his will in a crisis by upping the bad temper to the top level. This time, no, and the result is distressing for all of us, himself of course included.

A care provider came to assess him while we were there yesterday. They could start functioning in the middle of next week. The NHS may be able to provide a “bridge”, the excellent ward nurse said. My husband was listening to all of this but doesn't seem to grasp that we're on his side and trying as hard as we can to get him out.

Alexander is coming over to visit again today, and I think I will stay away. It will be fully as stressful as going, and I'll pay for it tomorrow,

“Care” at its best will only be five or six hours out of the 24. I'm not much looking forward to the rest of my life. I don't mind changing sheets in the middle of the night. It's the bad temper I dread We shall see.

Somewhere, I feel, in Jane Austen, is the notion that women in that sensible century considered the temper of a man they thought of marrying, much as they might consider that of a horse they were thinking of buying. Not a bad idea. But I can't refer you to the passage.


I am progressing happily with the Tokyo shawl, much helped by my own struggles to help the one of you who wrote to me. I think, if anybody else is currently involved, that the thing is to have the markers separate out the 50-stitch section which has a YO at one end and a k2tog – or k2togtbl – at the other, and leave the 20-stitch stretch in between with no excitement. I had been thinking of it differently – k20, k2tog, k48, yo... No, it's all too confusing.

Old Maiden Aunt is clearly working flat out to dye yarn for Kate Davies' wonderful new Fantoosh shawl. This might have been anticipated, I feel. I'll keep watching. I'm hoping for something in the greeny-grey spectrum but red-ish wouldn't be despised.

I've been spending a certain amount of time with Craftsy recently. I've recently watched Gudrun Johnston's class on the hap shawl all the way through. I don't think I exactly learned anything, but I was greatly attracted by the notion of doing something simple, properly.

I was struck by the fact that in the lessons she was dropping-and-throwing much as I do. Surely she doesn't do that at home in Shetland. Presumably the Craftsy people decided that the proper Shetland way of knitting would be too blazingly fast for us mortals. This is probably the moment when I should watch Hazel Tindall's DVD, bought some time ago.

I am tempted to go on to Nancy Bush's class on Estonian lace. I regard bobbles as against my religion, and regard nupps in the same category. I can do them, well enough, it's just that – no. But Bush of course is something of a world expert in Estonian lace, and Estonian lace means nupps.

I think I'll go ahead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We stagger on. And, indeed, thanks largely to Greek Helen and Ketki, much progress is being made about putting together a private care package. If we wait until the NHS does it, my husband might have to stay in hospital for further weeks. Someone called Angela from a nursing agency is coming to assess him this afternoon, during visiting hours while I am there. Someone else on Thursday.

Visiting remains harrowing. Alexander and Ketki came over from Loch Fyne yesterday. Alexander found it tough going, I think, and he had seen his father only the week before during his first incarceration.


Old Maiden Aunt rivals the Cheshire Cat – or do I mean the White Queen? Jam yesterday and jam tomorrow. I've been to the website regularly, and both last night and this morning have found stock available in several more-than-acceptable colourways. But, each time, only one skein.

I went back to Kate's original blog post on the subject of the Fantoosh. Maybe one would be enough? I could knit the smaller version? But no, that won't do. I want two skeins. I want envelopment.

A bit of knitting has been going on here, not as much as you might think given the amount of (theoretical) free time. One of you wrote to me the other day about problems with the Tokyo shawl (which everybody else, at least on Ravelry, seems to regard as “mindless”; I was glad to find a friend in misery). And I do believe that in trying to think it through with her, I may have made some discoveries which will make it easier for myself.

I'm nearly halfway through, according to the pattern. You would, indeed, think I might have mastered it by now. One of the Ravelry knitters said she had yarn left over and so decided to lengthen the shawl, and was glad she did. Sounds sensible, and I will remember.


I also log on regularly to Gumtree, looking for kittens. No luck yet.

I think I have come to believe, these last few days, that if I were going to be hanged at 2 p.m. I would find the clock moving towards that moment astonishingly slowly. Whereas one might have expected the opposite. I hope the hypothesis will never be put to the test. I was horrified to learn the other day that Massachusetts – Massachusetts – still has the death penalty.

(If any of you needs persuading on the subject, read Brendan Behan's play The Quare Fellow.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dear Friends,

I have been enormously grateful for your messages of sympathy and encouragement.

After 48 fairly horrendous hours, my husband was taken back into hospital on Friday – not chest-infection this time, but urology. My own diagnosis, for what it's worth, is that the first set of drs sent him forth into the world seriously constipated from which resulted a number of unpleasant consequences. In My Day, drs were passionately concerned about the state of one's bowels no matter which other organ was their primary focus of interest. Nowadays, not so, according to my husband. He says that no questions were asked on that subject at all during his first admission.

James came up from London on Friday for a weekend of visiting and support. Thanks to the miracles of mobile telephony, I was able to intercept him en route and send him directly from the station to the hospital, where he found us sitting around in an assessment bay. We remained there for many hours. The NHS has redefined the meaning of the word “soon” – another observation of my husband's.

He was finally admitted to a ward, with a catheter.

Yesterday James and I found him furious that he was not being released. He is scheduled for discharge on Tuesday – not the end of the world, for heaven's sake. He thought he had agreed that he would stay in overnight, and be let out if the blood tests were no worse than the evening before.

Yesterday's visit was grim. He harangued us on this topic for over an hour. I was very glad that James was there. I phoned our niece C. last night – the daughter of my husband's beloved sister – and she happily agreed to accompany me on today's visit. (She and I went to Greece together recently – she's the one.) Alexander is coming over tomorrow, when C. will be back at work. And on Tuesday he will be released.

So that's where we are. I sort of think we navigated a bend in the river, yesterday. I can't at all say what it looks like downstream. James has gone back to London.


I finished the fifth pocket square on Friday as we sat about in Assessment – and cast on the sixth. Of eight. Serious progress.

I keep logging on to Old Maiden Aunt, but so far I have found no supplies of the yarn needed for Kate Davies' wonderful Fantoosh. When the yarn finally turns up, I'll have to order it, and the pattern, if only to commemorate this crisis in our lives.

From Zite, these knitted cactuses. I'm having a sort of cactus phase at the moment so this is particularly welcome. But I like this sort of knitting in general – although I don't like doing it.

Arne & Carlos have done a “Summer Night” yarn for Regia. Very tempting, but my next purchase of sock yarn is going to be madelinetosh Whiskey Barrel in their new sock-compatible yarn, for my husband.

Zite also had a link to the Future Museum of South West Scotland. That's a link to the knitting section of the website. Here is a much more interesting link to the section on Sanquhar knitting in particular. I've never been to Sanquhar, but I remember the turn-off sign somewhere in the long, desolate stretch between Glasgow and the Border, when we used to drive every so often from Perthshire to Birmingham. I've never attempted any Sanquhar knitting, either.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Things are tough here. We're trying to import some nursing help. I'll resume blogging as soon as I can.

It's great news that Old Maiden Aunt is addressing the problem of providing yarn for Kate Davies' wonderful Fantoosh. Slightly behind the curve, perhaps.

Less good news is that we have heard nothing back from those kittens. Perhaps the whole litter had been disposed of and they didn't bother taking the ad down.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My husband is coming home from hospital this afternoon. I am seriously apprehensive but we can't go on like this forever. A district nurse will come in twice a day, at least at first, to give him his insulin injections. I'll ring the GP's office soon in the hopes of hearing that arrangement confirmed. An ambulance will bring us home, obviating several problems.

Maybe when he is here I will be able to formulate what sort of “help” and “care” we need, if any. Other than a 24-hour resident daughter or sister or son or friend.

On a more optimistic note, we may have found a cat. There is a website called Gumtree where people advertise cats. The sort of cats which in My Day they were grateful to you for taking away and which now cost silly prices. I had visited the site several times without spotting the kitten Greek Helen saw yesterday. I have emailed the owner and am waiting to hear. It's not old enough to leave its mother yet. It lives in an Edinburgh suburb. It might be possible – on the idea several of you have suggested, of having two indoor cats to keep each other company – to get her sister as well.

Amelia, yours is a very good point, which hadn't occurred to me: that we are old, and today's kitten might well outlive us. I think I can trust our family on this point. Except for Greek Helen who has gone over to the Dark Side and got herself a dog. But it would be a good idea to speak to them specifically on the subject. (James and Cathy, remember, have moved their cat from Beijing to Sydenham at no small expense and inconvenience; they know what's important.)


I did a bit more of that Tokyo shawl stripe yesterday. Once my husband is here we will surely revert to Mindless Television – I have scarcely had the thing on since he left – and more knitting will be done.

A new post from Kate Davies! I thought maybe she was going to offer some advice and comfort to those of us who love her Fantoosh shawl and are frustrated by not being able to buy the yarn. But no! It was about her new raised beds, which are indeed enviable.

The new issue of Knitting magazine has an interesting article about Annette Bugansky who renders knitting in porcelain. I was interested to read about how and why a plaster mould becomes blurred and unusable after a number of pots have been cast from it. I have some china of my mother's, probably wedding presents – and a few of the pieces are noticeably blurred. Presumably she was replacing breakages, and presumably Lenox went on using their moulds for a little too long. It is rather gratifying to find a (possible) explanation for something that had long (slightly) puzzled me.

And, goodness, I'd like one of one of Bugansky's Yarn Ball Yarn Bowls. It probably costs even more than a kitten. The link includes an interesting video of the making of it. The finished object is clearly bigger than one might otherwise think from still photographs. You could probably get two balls of yarn in there. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My husband is much better, and will probably be released into the world today or tomorrow. Alexander and Ketki both turned up yesterday. We saw a (12-year-old) dr who said there was no more medical reason for holding on to him – lungs are as clear as they're going to be, oxygen saturation good. We saw a physiotherapist who was also pleased with him.

I remain confused as to what sort of assessment of our living arrangements will be carried out, if any. One thing we certainly achieved yesterday was to tell the nursing staff to start letting him inject his own insulin. That worries me quite a bit, wondering whether he can still manage it, and is not an issue which can be postponed for even a day.

So we shall see. They can't turn him out until I get there with his trousers.

Moorecat, bless you for yesterday's comment. Yes, I used to knit in the morning, at least during that half-hour after taking the osteoporosis pill (now stopped). One had to take it first thing, eat nothing, remain upright. Lots of people do useful things like ironing or having a shower. I used to knit. And yesterday I did again, and very welcome it was. I'm halfway through the next big stripe on the Tokyo Shawl.

It's supposed to be mindless knitting, but I continue not to find it so. The pattern is very simple: k20, k2tog, k48, yo. Repeat. But alternate stripes are reversed, and I continue to find the switching difficult. There are divagations in what should be the elegant curved lines of eyelets, and a blip or two among the easier decreases. Nothing to worry about, but I am irritated at myself.


Many thanks for comments. We have always had a female cat, and tend to believe that allowing her a couple of litters before being spayed leaves her sharper-witted in middle life. Also it's fun to have a drawer-ful of kittens. But that may be over-ambitious in old age, and the question of who is to father the kittens when we don't plan to let her out is indeed a serious one.

Getting two cats is not a bad idea.

Roman Catholicism and a love of cats were the two points of compatibility my husband and I had established before marriage in 1957 and pretty well remain the only two, 58 years later.