Finishing Law School

Finishing Law School

0 comment Thursday, August 21, 2014 |
My son just asked me if he could grow peas in the garden. He tried them at school apparently and like them very much.
My son is asking for a vegetable. This is such an event it requires its own entry.
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I got my DLA paperwork today, three weeks after the award notice. I would be happy about the backpayment if the man I had spoken to three weeks ago hadn't refused to take my new bank details, said he'd "try to remember to post a note" to send me a form in the post to change the details (which never came) and that was that. I have discovered that even with my phonecall and telling them under NO account to send my money to the old account - I am currently filing under a DRO for that account - they did it anyway. End result? Last week, almost �800 deposited, and I was only about to get �350. The rest has been absorbed by the bank and there is "nothing the DLA can do".
I tried to close the door to the study so my son couldn't hear me sobbing, but he did anyway. I was "together" enough Monday to just get angry about the stupid administrative error that cost me over �400 and I transferred to customer service. Again "nothing they could do" supposedly but I was able to give a date and time on the call, so they'll be able to track who was on that day and I hope they get a good talking to. As for the rest, I don't know, but I'll give another ring this week. If owt else, they'll have to do something to just get me to shut up. As that was my son's room decor fund, I'm now set back a fair bit. Still, it will get done.

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0 comment Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |
This is a very tiring week for me; I've slept for hours and hours and hours, and it never seems as if I've been getting enough. The trip out yesterday to Lacock was lovely but absolutely exhausting. Beautiful place, awesome bakewell cake and I've renewed my National Heritage card as well for even cheaper days out - my friend and I have decided we're going to draw a circle round our area and visit every single National Heritage site within the radius, which should be fun! But at the same time, we were out for six hours and at about hour four, I was starting to drift off in the car! The day before, I slept for six hours once I got home from shopping, and I was honestly barely capable of keeping it together in the store. I'm a bit worried as I've got so much on this week which needs to get done, but I sincerely question my ability to do it. I've not got many spoons today and I'm anxious due to sending my only ID I have to the DLA office to confirm my indefinite leave. I'm always in mortal terror of it getting lost in the post - and unfortunately to the incredibly draconian and not-very-pro-human-rights rules which came into effect in the US post Sept-11, getting my passport renewed is a two year process which, last I checked, requires me to leave my son here and go back to the States to first "prove" I'm not a terrorist. Seriously.
In any event, I've had a not-so-restful sleep tonight and I'm facing a day of bustle and errands at the hospital, followed by a bit more shopping and purchasing of reams of paper so I can print out details for the lawyer tomorrow. Food is the furthest thing from my mind (I haven't been eating much, though I try to get a meal in a day), and the garden desperately needs a weed and a mow. But I am getting out there and pottering a bit while energy allows. Yesterday, I planted some chocolate mint in what is about to become a rambling, wild bit of violets and mints toward the side of my garden path. I can never get enough mint, really.
Landscaping with herbs is something I really enjoy doing; herbs have their own bit of charm, I think and they can fill in rather quickly and add loads of interest to a garden. I have a bit dedicated to chamomile, sage, lavender, mallow and bergamot right now - it needs a weed and more soil, but I'll cultivate it and see how it goes. The goat's rue is doing nicely in a patch of weeds which have such lovely, pretty little blooms my son has insisted I leave them alone; and so I shall. The grass is growing in SO thick now after all the rain that most of the bindweed is being choked out of the lawn, and I'll keep cutting and tending as I can do.
I'm moving more slowly than I wish to, but at least I can do a bit of potter here and there and reap some rewards on the efforts. Harvested the last of my tatties and now returning the soil they were in to the compost - compost I hope to put on my beds in a few months' time. The squash is finally starting to flower, hopefully in time to make some fruits for me. The asters are starting to bring forth heads of flowers and I can't wait to see what they look like! Things progress even if I'm not quite fast enough to keep up. I have to admit now I'd be mad to try and do much work at the moment, my exhaustion is so overwhelming even putting dishes in the dishwasher is a massive accomplishment for me.
Now, to gather myself up best I can and get ready to start at least a few errands. I don't know how far I'll get but I'm going to try.

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e bee
Many many thanks to the St Paul's Volunteer group - I was expecting only a few people but instead there was a fair swarm, as well as one young fellow who was a dab hand with a pickaxe! Digging, trimming, cutting, MORE digging, dismantling, digging - did I mention digging? I'm just amazed these people worked for six hours straight for a complete stranger.
And work they did!I now have a patio rather than a mudpit! They left the side on the right open as there will be a digger coming through and they didn't want the tile to get ruined for me, so they'll be back to do more later. They did lay down some small "replacement" tiles as the paving was so bad toward the stairs once they scraped it free of mud they were afraid I'd fall on it - it was a mishmash of broken bricks, spots of tarmac and broken paving all crammed together in a mass. In short, no surprise for this house, really. I've got dirt aplenty to fill in along the side of the hedge and to straight up my roses, so woot there.
Monster triffid rosebush has been removed from the raised bed - and by the look of things it took a huge effort to do so! The rose bush had obviously been planted when the house was built, and I think it is a hybrid rose which was grafted onto a wild rose stem as it's a mad amalgamation of two different types of rose growing from the same stem. However, I wanted to try and keep it, and it has been moved to the side portion of the house. I'm not sure it will actually grow - it might just die, but we'll see.
In the meantime, I have the raised bed now full of all the topsoil from putting the hedge in. They tried to give me a little walkway with raised bits to either side of the raised bed, maybe to plant flowers in, but I think I'll shuffle that over a bit and maybe try to get some more paving laid in there as I need access to the bed.
Can you spot what's missing? Yes! The godawful compost/tip/hazardous dump is now gone! Loads of soil and a few slow worms were moved under the sumac tree, which has been pruned. The soil will hopefully be used to help with the levelling which will happen in a few weeks' time, or for the flower beds - the heap had so much rubbish in it; old carpet, plastic and paint cans that there's no way I'm growing food in that soil, but it will be useful for growing other stuff. The bramble is also gone, as well as a ash sapling which was trying to grow its way through the fence from the neighbour's yard. It's amazing how having that compost thing gone really opens up the garden space, but I'm not sure sprog will be so happy the "jungle" has been tamed a bit. Still, there's loads of dirt for digging and they even removed all the metal and glass from it, so he can dig aplenty.
And, of course, there's good news fo sproggo - there was enough sand left over that he can have that sand pit he's been asking for; it's builder's sand but sprog won't mind, he'll play with it for now, even though it's a bit sharp. We just have to build him a proper sand pit and then figure out how to cover it, but all in due time. Until that point, I'll rig up a temporary one for him to use during the holidays.
There's still a fair bit to do, but the transformation is indeed taking place, and I'm once again humbled and grateful for the people who have been willing to blow a Saturday to work, and work hard, at a stranger's house - all the people who have donated seeds, all the cuttings, and all the advocacy certainly starts to stack up to form a cohesive whole.
So awesome, I really wish the weather would hold off a bit, I want to have breakfast with my son on the patio.

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0 comment Tuesday, August 19, 2014 |
My trip into the very local market today to search for very local produce paid off; even though I've known one of the co-owners of Angel Cottage Farm for years (he works at the local Neal's Yard) I had no idea he had a smallholding, and even less of a clue that he was raising chicken and lamb. Good grief, I've known him since before there was a sprog and never thought to ask about endeavours. But, he's now in production and I purchased a very hefty (and expensive, true) free range chicken which he processed only last week; it's had a chance to hang a bit and honestly it a massive bird. The meat was even better than the barn-raised stuff I've been having recently and I'm really chuffed with the quality. I'll be happy to be alternating the lamb with the rare breed lamb supplier from Langley Chase. That's our lamb and chicken now sorted, and we tend to eat that the most! I also stopped by for some local sausages from another local producer, but I'm still casting about for more pork (though we don't eat it often).
In addition, the autumn raspberries are in and the last of the strawberries too, so after visiting another local stall I scored not only these fruits but also - joy of joys - some onion squash. My hunt for squash was not in vain! So very chuffed, me; so I'm looking forward to my first squash of the fall, gently roasted with olive oil, cracked pepper, sea salt, sage from my garden and some local bacon (still had a bit left).
I had a lot of errand-running today and sorted out some overdue issues, though I'm still behind on getting my physio figured out. However, I won't really be able to start till September when sprog is back in school, so maybe that's well and good enough. I'm getting there.
Sprog is still on holiday with his dad in Yorkshire, and so I'm revelling in the quiet! I love Sproggo, truly I do, but he is a LOT of work, and on days like I've had on Monday, sometimes it's a good thing that I don't have an extra issue to deal with! However I have awesome friends; and while they clean my house, I cook for them. It works! We've been trading produce from our respective gardens since the crops have come in, and soon it will be apple trading from our respective trees and a fair bit of baking on my part to be sure we're all well catered for during the winter.
So I've now pretty much done all my major energy-requiring tasks for the day. It's now a cosy up on the daybed, have some tea, consider doing a bit more sewing on the Impractical Coat and then a movie and early bed. Sprog will be home before I know it so I'm racking up the extra hours of kip whilst I can!

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I managed to get an attack of food poisoning a few days ago and that has made managing sprog this week rather interesting. I ran out of food selections for him and ended up having to order his favourite; pizza. Enough for several days, but he's really starting to pack on the weight now - he does this in fits and starts and I have to carefully monitor his eating as he's completely unaware of when he's eaten enough. Granted, when summer rolls round sprog tends to eat very little at all - not to mention the shirts I just bought him a few weeks ago are now looking small on him again (wrists now coming somewhere around the forearm). Since my lad is six and those clothes were for 10-12 year olds, I'd say a growth-spurt is kicking in bigtime at the moment. I'll be buying clothing again very soon, maybe this week if I can manage it, though taking sprog for shopping can be difficult.
The half-term is winding down, and so am I - the house inspection for the rental is today, and cleaning during half term when sprog is home is a joke, especially today with it being cold and wet outside and most of the garden has turned into a mudfield. The one benefit of this, however, is that it means we might be able to venture into town and have it all to ourselves as very few other people will be out and about. Less bother and commentary by others as my son zooms around like a whippet on Red Bull, stopping into our habitual stores and playing with habitual toys.
LATER
One thing I did manage to do was let sprog man/child/wump the camera and take photos of some of his plants. He likes closeup shots and attention to extreme detail (it's a bit eerie as that's how my late uncle used to take his award-winning photographs, some things seem to run in the male line). For six years of age, he has a very mature eye.
Leeks are leeking - sprog was fascinated at the wee seeds on the end and tried to get a closeup.
Pots in a row on front windowsill, lavender, thyme, sage, asters, and a few I've forgotten already (good thing they're labelled)
Today we had another surprise; the cherry tree arrived. What makes the tree such a SQUEE is I was expect a maiden whip sort of tree, but this is already pruned. I'm pleasantly surprised. It might even produce fruit for us this year which would be awesome (though possibly wildly optimistic) - this was a gift from a friend, and I am very happy to have this in the garden! It isn't in an ideal place but, as you can probably see from the photo, the back garden lower portion has turned into a mudpit. It will get moved to a more ideal location and I'll tie the branches down to the edge of the pot as gently as I can to give a bit more shape to the tree. So THANK you - next mission: raspberries and a mulberry (though not till next year!)
This mud-flat issue I'm having at the moment will change by the end of March (one hopes!) when the paving will be laid down, and then I can fill my pots and arrange in earnest! Things take shape, and hopefully I will hear back on the grantwork as well.
The urge to be planting everything in the ground right this minute is VERY strong, but it's still too early - besides, planting the cherry tree used up the last of my coir and wormcastings, so further planting will have to wait until I can get new supplies in! However, the compost is ticking over nicely again, and I should be able to keep things nicely topped up through the year.

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0 comment Monday, August 18, 2014 |
I will admit I am not a huge water-drinker. Partly this is due to ayurvedic leanings - there are body types which actually shouldn't drink the obligatory 8+ glasses of water a day, and I am one of them. I find most tap water to be barely palatable, but sadly spring and well water seems to be mostly polluted these days, so there's no joy in that anymore.
So, getting enough fluid during the summer is a bit of a challenge for me. I don't like buying flavoured bottled water as that just seems pointless, and while I like to splurge on my Perrier or Pellegrio once in a while, I just stick to the tapwater and either drink my teas, or just go without.
With all the sun we've been having, however, Nature is providing enough flavouring for different drinks at the moment, and so today - after a huge fresh fruit smoothie and massive breakfast from eggs I purchased out in the country yesterday - I've gone out to gather elderflowers to make my first batch of cordial. Even though sprog is more than happy drinking water, sometimes he needs encouragement, and he really seems to like elderflower cordial - though in the shops it's very expensive. Granted, when the stuff is growing all over the place, I have to wonder why you buy it - but then, with all the brambles everywhere, people still buy blackberries. Go figure. I've made this batch with a teaspoon of citric acid as I want it to keep for a while, and will pour the stuff into sterilised bottles in order to keep it through the summer. The second batch I make, some will be frozen, and we can have it during the fall "dog days."
That hasn't been today's only creation however - I'm a huge fan of all things roses; and I really enjoy foods infused with rose oils, waters, or what have you. Recently, the rosebush in the back garden has been putting forth some HUGE roses, and the fragrance is amazing, very deep and intense. I'm not sure what variety it is, but it's certainly benefitting from sitting next to my compost pile! The blooms are massive this year, and while I usually enjoy flowers right where they are, I haven't been able to resist harvesting these flowers and putting them into a hibiscus cordial I've been drinking lately. The petals lighten in a big way when put into the hot water, and I'm leaving this covered, allowing it to cool, and tomorrow it will get strained into my plastic warm-weather-drink bottle I keep in the fridge.
These aren't difficult to make, essentially just take any elderflower recipe which you fancy most - google search is your friend! - and then substitute lavender, rose, and so on. Just be careful, as some flowers which smell lovely aren't any good to eat or drink (lilac, or butterfly plant, is poisonous, and you shouldn't ever eat elderflowers raw for the same reason). I make at least one floral wine during the year, but as I'm still trying to get several of my long-forgotten roses back into production, I'm holding off till next year when I can encourage even more blooms to get with the programme.
Now is the time of year I love the most: Nature gives forth after loads of hard work, and we reap the benefits. I know I should revel in all seasons, but honestly, when the berries start to come forth is when I feel the height and best part of the year has arrived. I therefore harvest the things in earnest, and get my hands on any and all fresh fruit and veg I can manage. The strawberries have now all been frozen, and this week sproggo and I will happily munch our way through the fresh fruit I purchased from the market. Hopefully in a few weeks' time my own strawberries will be producing, and just when we're sick and tired of those (which is hard to imagine right now), the raspberries will be in, and once again, it will be time to pick more fruit and freeze as much as I can.
Today I'm catching up on tasks and chores which need doing - this is the final six-week school period before I've got a solid five weeks of wumping ahead of me. I've loads of soap to do, laundry to sort out, clothes to mend, and somewhere in there I have to remember to do all the other necessities of doctor appointments, business connections, and - somehow, some way - caring for my own health and well-being so I can push the "unable to walk without a wheelchair in three years" projection to at least five. Yes, I'm afraid that seems to be where it's heading, and fast. But, in a crude but incredibly apt phrase, arthritis chose the wrong bitch. I'll be damned if it's going to be three years without a fight.
So, lots of fruit smoothies and vitamins and as much fresh, local produce as I can manage, lots of sun, and gardening, and managing my day and my energy levels. And having nice things to drink while I go along with that won't be amiss.

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0 comment Sunday, August 17, 2014 |
Today has been rather manic; lots of shopping and stockpiling so I can get my bake on this week and restock the freezer. I made potstickers and froze them in advance so I can make them whenever I like, and I've got muffins and bread to bake for snacks and treats. Winning Spagbol was made tonight and my son ate a huge plateful, and has asked for the same tomorrow - he has also impressed me by reading his Stage 2 book all by himself (he has shown zero interest in reading, and now suddenly jumped up a level and is reading rather confidently - that's just how he does everything it seems). I still haven't done cleaning, but I got the dishes done and some more laundry - with more tomorrow. I've also wrapped soap - but after 1pm I was doing all these little extra bits like potstickers and soap-wrapping whilst sitting down; there was just no other way.
Sprog has settled quite happily into his garden-watering routine after school, and he isn't overly disturbed by activity from either side of the garden whilst doing so. He is focussed on his own tasks and not consistently pestering for attention from others, so that's certainly helping (though one lad in particular is a bit consternated he can't get the rise out of Sprog like he used to...and serves him right, too). My son is doing very well with taking care of the plants in his rock-garden beds, watering gently and carefully. He understands if he doesn't take care of them, the plants will die, and so he shows considerable responsibility. I am very proud of him.
It's not yet 7:30 however and all the day's activity has caught up. I'm very aware that I've got four days to prepare for this event, and no recovery time afterwards to prepare for the week of half-term time off. The aches and pains are kicking off due to everything I've been up to today, and I've got more of the same tomorrow. I'll try and stick to my four-hour window, however, and I'm a pro at wrapping and labelling, so it won't take too much time.
The fruit is coming in now; English strawberries are on the market tables, and I picked up several punnets. The cherries are starting to show as well, though the glut from Kent will, I hope, be in the next few weeks. The pick-your-own days are coming soon, and since my dishwasher is currently being temperamental, I'm foregoing any more plans for beer or cider, and focussing on getting the wines started for the year - this means I only need a bucket and a glass demijohn, rather than face washing and disinfecting over 40+ bottles! This year's plots and plans are strawberry, maybe raspberry if I can get out to the PYO, and rosepetal. I'm foregoing cherry as it works out as the most expensive - not nearly as expensive as buying it in the store, mind, but these are funds I just don't have at the moment. As it stands, I'm now in between cash flow requirements for sprog's dentistry, painting the Wumpy House (fence will have to wait a bit), and the freezer which I am desperate to get before fall. So if I'm doing wine this year, I've got to do it cheap and well. The rosepetals will be from my own garden plants, for example. Done it before and it was very delicious, so going to try again.
The busy time for me is coming, where I really won't have anything called a "break" until some time in July. So, speaking of wine, as the day cools and the sky threatens rain, I'm going to have myself a cup of rose wine and just....chill.
Cheers.

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