Wednesday, February 01, 2023


Another good day, although again without much movement. I now have an appt (in six weeks’ time) to talk to a private surgeon. I trust the actual event (hip replacement) will follow shortly thereafter. I am terrified. Some things are best dealt with by not thinking about them.


The Calcutta Cup: the match is on Saturday. Alexander and Ketki (and perhaps some of their dependents) propose to come and watch it with me. (The match is in London this year.) That should be fun. England has a new coach – in the last few days – and a couple of their players are injured, and we’ve been doing rather well lately, so I suppose the case isn’t hopeless, as it usually is when we play in London. I won’t be totally devastated if we lose, because it will ease the pressure on knitting. But winning would be nice, too. Fight fiercely, Harvard!


I have progressed with the hap, although I am beyond the point when an hour’s knitting registers much if any discernible progress.


Wordle: All threes and fours today, except for poor Theo who got stuck on grn, grn, grn, ???, ??? and just managed to scrape home with six. I was one of the fours, and was perfectly happy with that. At the risk of giving something away – which I usually try to avoid – I will say that I entered SCOBY on my line three and Wordle rejected it. It is a familiar word to anyone who has dabbled in fermentation. A quick Google search confirms it as a perfectly real word. It wouldn’t have made much difference to my eventual result.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

 A fairly satisfactory day. No out – I had my Tuesday bath. Helen struggled mightily with the problem of speaking to a doctor, and has succeeded in getting me referred to someone for a replacement hip. More struggles tomorrow may reveal more details. I am hoping to go back to that posh nursing home where I was for a fortnight last summer, for a fortnight’s convalescence. The cost which Helen learned today is, as they say, eye-watering. I don’t know whether it’s a general increase, or the specific cost of post-operative care. Probably a bit of both. I've seen them in action -- one of the women at our table had just had a hip operation -- and am confident I'll be looked after.


And I knit happily on with the new great-grandchild's hap. That’s something. Gudrun’s instructions are to proceed in this peaceful fashion until there are 144 stitches – no fiddling about with a tape measure. I’ve marked off 80 stitches to avoid countless recounts, and there are probably another ten at either end, so I’m making progress.


My knitting technique (very poor) is self-taught. I’ve had various tries at self-improvement, including the Portuguese technique discussed in comments yesterday, with the yarn around your neck. That’s one of my Craftsy classes, indeed. I’ve never made much progress. That probably means, I’ve never stuck to any system for long enough. Indeed, I was rather gratified once to discover that my technique – drop-and-throw – has a name of its own. I’m not the only one!


I had a delivery from Mindful Chef yesterday – one of those companies that provides recipes and ingredients. I used to eat with them a lot, and then not at all for quite a while. I’m stronger now, except for this blasted hip, so I ordered four meals this week. I  quite enjoy devoting half the morning to the cooking of lunch. It involves a fair amount of exercise, or at any rate a lot of standing up and sitting down again. I allow myself a few pages of my book after slicing the garlic and grating the ginger. Today’s lunch was a considerable success.


Wordle: Three for me today! My two starter words gave me two greens and a brown, and I then typed in the first qualifying word I thought of. There’s an awful lot of luck involved. Ketki had grn, grn, ???, grn, ??? from her starter word, but guessed wrong twice and wound up with four. Alexander and his sister Big Rachel and Roger were the other scorers of three. Poor Thomas needed six – he got stuck on grn, grn, grn, ???, ??? and guessed wrong three times. Five for Theo, four for the small remainder.

Monday, January 30, 2023


Again, I didn’t go out. Otherwise it was a more productive day. I unearthed a motley collection of Shetland yarn from stash and started that hap.


It begins with the central square, knit corner to corner which of course produces the illusion at first that one is making rapid progress. Every row begins with a YO, producing a set of dear little loops which will eventually be picked up to form the basis of the borders. The borders are then knit round and round, all four, increasing at the corners. That means that alternate rounds have to be purled, to maintain garter stitch. There are other ways of configuring a Shetland shawl in which that isn’t required. The last time I did one – for wee Hamish, above – I worried in advance about all that purling but in fact didn’t find it as bad as I expected.


The colours available in stash were pretty boring – I think my taste runs to the dull – but there are a few bright balls and I hope they might liven the whole if tastefully deployed in the feather-and-fan section.


Meanwhile Helen and I set ourselves to phone the doctor. Not to be lightly undertaken, these days. We eventually got through to the surgery. The man I want to speak to doesn’t have a telephone-conversation-appointment slot available for the next fortnight, but if we can get thought first thing tomorrow we might be able to speak to him tomorrow. Helen will try. (It’s no wonder a&e departments are overburdened these days.) Otherwise I’ll have to speak to one of the others. If I can.


Wordle: A wide range today, and I wasn’t the worst! Little Rachel needed six – she got grn, grn, grn, ??, grn and guessed wrong twice. Theo and his father Roger both needed five. Big Rachel and I were the fours, while the Loch Fyne Mileses – Alexander, Ketki, and Thomas – all scored three, as did their dear friend Mark.





Sunday, January 29, 2023


A pleasant, windy day. This was the first day on which I could say with assurance, the light is coming back. I usually expect that on Groundhog Day, Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification. The American groundhog is a secularisation of an older British superstition. And it makes more sense here, with our uncertain weather. Groundhog Day used to puzzle me slightly when I was young (in Detroit, the Jersey shore, and Ohio). Of course there was plenty more winter to come, whatever that silly rodent supposed.


C. and I went to Mass, always satisfactory. But no knitting. I wonder if I should face the fact that I’m a bit stuck here, and start thinking about that great-grandchild due in April. In fact, I did a bit of that today.


And what I thought about was Gudrun Johnson’s hap. I’ve knit it at least twice. And this raises a question. I knit it from her Craftsy pattern. I didn’t devote much time to the problem today, but I couldn’t see a way to log in to Craftsy. I thought the courses I had bought – and there are quite a few of them, knitting and cooking – were mine forever. The pattern can be bought on Ravelry for not too much. Or I could figure it out for myself. But how do you get in to Craftsy these days? is the question.


Thank you for comments yesterday, especially yours, Shandy and Chloe, about hip replacement. Tomorrow’s job is to phone the GP again and try to persuade them to let me speak to him. Today after Mass I chatted with an acquaintance who is almost as old as I am – 90 in October. She stood comfortably throughout the conversation, while I sat on my outdoor walking machine. (My mother was in good form at 90. There was worse to come.) At any rate, my mind is made up; I have but to forge ahead.


Wordle: I’ve left the iPad in the kitchen – carrying anything is difficult with a walker, and I am always afraid that it will slip from under my arm. Can I remember today’s results? I scored an undistinguished five, I’m sure of that, in which I was joined only by Mark. He (alone) had the same configuration as I did for the penultimate line: ???, grn, grn, grn, grn. Otherwise threes and fours all round. Alexander, Big Rachel, and Theo were the threes. I may be forgetting somebody there.

Saturday, January 28, 2023


Oh, dear. Again, no knitting. Nor much of anything else, either. I’m reading a book about the history of genetics, but that hardly counts as activity. What a lot was going on, all unbeknownst to me – principally but by no means entirely, the discovery of the double helix – during the seven years of my adult independence, four at Oberlin, three in Glasgow. Then marriage, motherhood, and here I am.


Wordle: Yesterday’s word was WORRY. (I’ve already forgotten today’s -- other Wordlers agree with me that each day’s word, once solved, is strangely difficult to remember.) My preceding line had been LORRY. Another possibility – except that my starters had eliminated S – would have been SORRY. Those are the three I mentioned yesterday in which, I think, the vowel is pronounced differently each time. 

We all got threes and fours today.  Alexander, his wife Ketki,  his sister Big Rachel, and his friend Mark all got three. So did my brother-in-law Roger. Thomas and Theo shared four with me.



Friday, January 27, 2023


A slightly better day, perhaps, activity-wise. No walking (it was cold), but I have nearly finished the other side of the front neck of Fergus’ sweater. Did I mention that, sitting across the table from him at Helen’s delicious birthday lunch on Sunday, I thought again that his shoulders have become too broad to fit into the sweater as presently constituted?


Thank you very much indeed for comments on health care yesterday. Anonymous, we are in the perhaps unusual position, these days, of having a GP we’ve known for years. When I talked to him about my hip some months ago, he was keen on the idea of having it done privately, one of the advantages being that he could refer me to a specific surgeon he knew. I want to speak to him again as I go ahead with the idea, no matter how long it takes to get hold of him. And I must make sure that the luxurious nursing home where I spent a fortnight last summer has room to take me in when a date for surgery is fixed. If one can concentrate on the minor problems one can to some extent forget how one fears and dreads surgery.


I made Cullen skink for my lunch yesterday – easy, delicious, nourishing. I tried to think – but it is impossible to calculate – how much easier it would be if I could walk. Easier, of course, to move around the kitchen. But I’ll still be 90 years old.


Wordle: we’re all back on form today, with a rush of fours, including mine. Alexander thoroughly redeemed himself with a three, and Theo needed five. I had ??.grn,grn,grn,grn in line three. It occurred to me – I’m not absolutely sure this is true – that the word I had entered in that line, and the subsequent one which was right, and another possibility which I couldn’t use because I had already eliminated that letter – all three of those words are pronounced (very slightly) differently.

Thursday, January 26, 2023


Another pleasant day. Again, I didn’t go out – or knit. Helen came, and we dealt with some business, fairly successfully. We pursued the matter of getting my money out of that ISA account. There are some papers to be filled out, which are being sent. We rang up my doctor, who has got to refer me to a hip surgeon – but he’s away on holiday. Try again on Monday. I'm sure anyone in the practice could do it, bot I want to talk to him again. Helen had been to the bank and instructed them to pay my enormous income tax bill – so enormous that when I went on line just now, I wasn’t allowed to pay either Daniella or the accountant. The one will have to wait until tomorrow, the other until Monday. Pretty ridiculous. Helen and Alexander have power of attorney.


Thank you for your comments yesterday, about care costs and cats. Yes, Elizabeth, care seems to be free here in Scotland – if you can get it. Towards the end of my husband’s life, he was in what might be described as a holding facility at the Western General. A whole building devoted to the people we hear so much about these days – well enough to be discharged from hospital, but needing care. Eventually he got his care package – two carers, four times a day, all free. He was able, thanks to them, to be at home for the last months of his life, and to die here. And in the holding facility, he had his own room with en suite facilities. He didn’t like it much. I don’t know what the Scottish government does about care in care homes.


Wordle: A welcome relief, today, to have something to think about other than arthritic hips and income tax.. It was another tough word. I was very happy to scrape home in six. Alexander failed. Four was the basic score today. Five for Ketki.