Tuesday, May 31, 2022

 Guess what? A quiet day. But a good one. Physiotherapy again. I feel I have inched forward. If I can just set myself a program and stick to it at home as I have here. Likewise with eating. Mealtime conversation is a good deal less than scintillating here, but I think it is good for me to sit down at regular hours and eat decent food.(I do the latter at home; not always the former.)

C. came to see me. Tomorrow a couple whom we met on our first joint cruise, a year ago, are coming, inspired by C. who has kept in touch with them.

Knitting went well. Mostly I seemed to clutch the needles inertly while I read another few pages, or watched another game or two of the French Open tennis. But I must have done a bit better than that, as it — the body of Kate Davies’ Lilias Day — now measures 11”. Three to go!

Thank you very much indeed for your comments and messages about Life and Old Age. There’s no easy answer. Rachel said during our Zoom conference on Sunday that she has two elderly friends who strenuously rejected live-in care but when it was forced upon them rapidly became best friends with their carers. I don’t   think it would be so with me, and my house would need a certain amount of (expensive) adaptation to make it suitable for someone else to live there. The spare room is fine for a friend for a few nights.

And, Janet in Seattle, you mention in your recent comment, the gravest problem of all. Never mind the shower in the downstairs lavatory — what about MY CATS? 

Wordle: two of the people in our little group — there are five of us altogether, counting me — did a tad worse than I did today. That doesn’t often happen. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

 Quiet, you won’t be surprised to hear. 

C. came to see me with her nephew (sister’s son) who is staying with her for a few days. He is a thoroughly nice youth, training to be a nurse, like Archie, by means of a university course. They are each other’s second cousins, I think: I love that sort of thing. Helen will come tomorrow on her way home from the mosaic course she has been teaching near Kirkmichael — if she tests negative.

The knitting went well. The body of the Lilias Day is now 10” if I smooth it down a bit. I’ll try to do a couple more rounds before bedtime to consolidate the measurement. 

Today’s Wordle word is a bit New York Times-y again. Yesterday’s was “bayou” which defeated me and baffled many. Today mine is the worst score in the group, but that often happens. At least I got it.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

 Another quiet day. Old friends from Birmingham are staying in my house and feeding my cats. They came to see me today with some much-needed shirts. They will be away tomorrow, though, and I can go back to worrying.

Knitting went well. The body of the sweater now measures 8 1/2”. I remain on target to finish it (to the armholes) (14”) by the time I leave here on Saturday. 

 We had a family Zoom meeting today largely on the subject of what to do with me. Some, at least, think I should stay here another week while they organise live-in care for Drummond Place. I don’t think we’ve quite reached that extremity, but it is certainly a comfort here, at night, to know that help is so near if needed. And Helen is certainly carrying a heavy load.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

 What happened today? Nothing, as usual. C. came to see me, with the friend who drove us to and from Oban for our cruises last year. 

Kirsten, I adopted your suggestion for the knitting and put in a marker at the start of play. It helps a lot. I’ll have to move it tomorrow, alas, but meanwhile it is a stern reminder of what I have actually accomplished. I think the side-seam markers had been luring me into a false sense of achievement. 7 1/4” so far. The first ball of yarn should certainly expire tomorrow — and since I wound two for the cast-on, as recently discussed, I can continue without a pause.

Beverly, yes, (comment yesterday): our new co-resident, Mary, from Harris, spoke nothing but Gaelic until she started school. 

There is an article in the Financial Times today about those automatic feeding gadgets you can buy for cats. The fanciest one of all has “Fort Knox-like security levels [which] keep moisture out and kibble fresh  for two-odd weeks…..But please don’t leave your cat alone that long.”

That’s what I’ve done. They’re not alone-alone, but they’re without me.

Friday, May 27, 2022

 Janet, no, I wouldn’t quite say that the time is flying by — but here is a whole week accomplished, so maybe you’re right.

Thank you for your sympathy about the knitting. I read the Harlot’s post — but her problem isn’t quite the same. It is obvious from the pictures that her knitting is relieved by frequent stripes of a different (=non-st-st) texture. All she has to do is count them, to measure progress. Whereas I knit and knit all day, round and round, with nothing to measure progress against except the disappointing evening session with the tape measure.

Six inches this evening. Nothing. My only ambition now is to be somewhere near 14” when I go home a week tomorrow. The sleeves won’t be quite so endless, being smaller of circumference, and the yoke should actually be fun.

I have been supplanted as the “newby”. I don’t know how this place works, except that a lot of people eat in their rooms. Even so, our little dining room couldn’t be all. We were joined at lunch today by Mary, from Harris in the Hebrides, here for two or three weeks recovering from a hip replacement. The operation was a week ago today and she is already striding about briskly on two sticks. She is clear-headed and sound  of hearing, a welcome addition to the table.

Everybody did Wordle in three today, including Rachel in London.  It was rather a difficult one, or so I found it, but there was nothing for it but to get it right or give up altogether.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

 Helen is now in Kirkmichael. The responsibility for my dear cats is being passed from hand to hand. The weather is cold and blowy.

All continues peaceful here. I got bounced to the hairdresser this morning — in the sense that I hadn’t intended to go, or made an appointment. He has done a good job. I didn’t go to the knitting class — it was in the middle of my naptime. A physiotherapist turned up and we went through another set of exercises. 

Despite a day’s hard knitting, Lilias Day is only five inches long. Impossible! I have made serious inroads on the first ball of yarn — that’s something. And Ooskit (if that’s what it’s called) comes in 100-gram skeins.  There are only three shades of it, all natural greys. Rather unexpectedly it makes a lovely soft fabric. The only way to go is on.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

 Helen came to see me on Tuesday but tested positive before they let her in the door, so that was exciting. We managed a brief visit through my bedroom window. C. came today, and she passed. 

Life continues to follow its tranquil course. C. brought me some salad dressing which is going to be very useful. And the knitting continues well. Three inches altogether, so far. Fourteen are required to the underarm, if I resist the temptation KD offers to knit a cropped version. Perhaps I should set myself a target of 3” a day. Tomorrow there is a “knitting class” on the schedule. I’ll have to turn out for that.

I had a physiotherapy class on Tuesday and continue to do the exercises I have been set. I haven’t much hope of a miraculous transformation. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

 Things continue quiet. Time goes very slowly and I am determined to put that factor to good use by getting lots of knitting done. I made the acquaintance of a physiotherapist this morning. She assessed me and has promised some exercises. What this place needs is a layer of fit and keen 75-80 year olds. Mercifully, old and feeble as we are, we can sneak off to the Cinema Room in the afternoon and watch the French Open tennis while reflecting on the superiority of Wimbledon. (Grass. White clothes. Order.)

The food is good but not quite brilliant. I was looking forward to serious good brewed coffee. No. It’s fully as instant as in Drummond Place if not more so. And, oddly, they don’t know about salad dressing. They make nice little salads with a variety of leaves, and onion slices, and little tomatoes, and serve them completely undressed.

I have finished the k1b, p1 ribbing at the beginning of Lilias Day. The temptation is to sit back now and let it knit itself.  Alas, that doesn’t entirely work. I don’t think I’ve ever employed twisted stitch before except in Bavarian-type designs, which I love. I very much like the effect here, too. Firm and unobtrusive.

I continue with my little Wordle group, although I haven’t done very well lately. This morning we all scored three, coming at the problem each with his own different starter word. 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

 Well here I am.

This place is as comfortable as advertised. The staff is very attentive and very inclined to go the extra mile — or two. I fear it is also true that almost all the residents are too old and infirm to enjoy it. When I first visited my mother at Meadow Lakes in NJ, she was still driving, and enjoying the group outings to the Princeton theatre. Nothing like that here. I don’t thing much will happen tomorrow for those of us disinclined for the service at Cramond Kirk. Things may liven up on Monday.

I’ve cast on Lilias Day and hope to make substantial progress with the ribbing tomorrow. It’s a twisted rib, which slows things down a bit. After that, it’s full steam ahead until the yoke. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

 Again, no walk, but this time it was because Daniela and I devoted some of her last day to packing. I’m all set, except for the last-minute i-pad-charger, kitchen-radio, batteries sort of thing. Tumbrils at ten.

Comments: Anonymous, yours is easiest to deal with, so I’ll start there.

The long-tail cast on for an adult sweater in the round involves a lot of stitches. And if you get it wrong, too short a long-tail, there’s nothing for it but to rip them all out and start again. Been there, done that. But if you cast on using two identical balls, you just cut one of them off at the end.

Anonymous,  we’ve paid all our lives all right, but the problem right now is that the state doesn’t provide social care until all your money is gone.. That will have to be straightened out in the next few years. Scotland is better than England (relying on its English subsidy).

Thank you very much for your comments about elderly care, especially yours, Jenny. We investigated somewhat when my husband was at this stage of life. By then, it would have been too late for a retirement community. I think I may have fallen into the trap of assuming that what we have in Edinburgh goes for the nation. Tomorrow’s luxurious destination wasn’t even open then. I clearly don’t know much about it. I know that we’re big business, we geriatrics. No doubt things will go on changing. I was particularly happy to hear about your mother-in-law’s council-run accommodation in Glasgow. I’m particularly fond of Glasgow.




Thursday, May 19, 2022


Not too bad, again. Again, we didn’t get out, this time because a nurse came to take my blood pressure. It was low, as is the norm these days.


I wound a ball of yarn from Lilias Day – I think I’ll start with that one. Then I gave some thought to casting on – it’s circular, knit bottom up. The only way I have ever heard of to do that efficiently is to use two balls of yarn – so I wound another one.


Care homes: the British have an abundance of purpose-built apartments for the elderly, with grab-rails and someone on duty at night. But no dining room, no gym, no provision for what happens when you need a bit more care. No community, in fact. I considered one in Blairgowrie when my husband died. I’m glad I stayed here.


Mary Lou, I think you have put your finger on the difference I will be investigating: the “hefty original investment.” I think it may be that the British are more devoted to the family house, and more determined to leave it to their children no matter what expense they may impose on the state. I don’t expect to learn much, but I’ll report back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022


I am sorry to have cut you adrift again. All well here, except for this terrible weakness. And today has been slightly better than yesterday. Daniela and I might even venture out tomorrow.


The End is approaching, in the sense that I will be going into my care home on Saturday morning (and Daniela to Romania on Monday). Things are slowly and vaguely getting done. I am interested in discovering why the British don’t have retirement communities all over the place, the way the Americans do. My mother lived in one, my sister and her husband are in another now. Don’t believe Richard Osman, who has recently written two rather good thrillers set in a British one. There may be one or two Down Souff, but it’s nothing like America. I used to think it was because we had the NHS, but I have abandoned that hypothesis. And Cramond House probably isn’t the place to explore my new hypothesis since everyone there will be so rich.


Knitting: Crochet66, it’s all your fault. When I wrote to you last, I had ordered Kate Davies’ Mooch pattern for Care Home knitting. Thanks to you, I have also ordered Lilias Day, but with some Ooskit for the background colour as less prone to dirtiness than the specified Schiehallion “crowdie”. Both kits have now arrived. I’ve even wound some yarn. Now all I have to do is knit.


More soon, I hope.

Friday, May 13, 2022


Very feeble today. 


However, some progress has been made. I’ve ordered the Mooch kit from Kate Davies, and have then begun to worry, rather seriously, about whether I should have had Lilias Day instead, in a less dirt-prone main shade than she suggests.  Something that offers a lot of plain knitting as I just sit there. This thought was prompted by the fact that I have made a bit of progress with the legwarmer. I continue not to enjoy it. Wouldn’t I be happier just knitting peacefully back and forth? Or, better, round and round?


Thank you for all your helpful comments about Care Home life. Yours was particularly inspiriting, Elizabeth, with its suggestion that one can go into care for a bit and actually emerge. I don’t watch television much these days, but am increasingly addicted to Radio 4. I will certainly follow your advice and take my little radio (and some spare batteries) with me.


Mary Lou, I had been thinking about the similarity to a cruise. Sailing from Oban on the Majestic Line to the outlying Scottish islands (highly recommended), there are only 10 or 12 of you and one behaves from the beginning – at least I did – as a member of the group. Whereas at Cramond there will be old – or old-ish – friendships already established, perhaps unwilling to be disturbed by a temporary newcomer. The brochure makes much of small groups; maybe they’ve thought it all out. In any event, I’ll keep you posted.


And it would be interesting to discover how we have all arrived at the same point: well-to-do Edinburgh now, but where did we start from and how did we get here..



Tuesday, May 10, 2022


I continue to inch forward. Daniela and I got over to the garden this morning. I sat on the nearest bench for a while, and then we went home again. But it’s a start. How the world is transformed! The daffodils are gone, the lilacs out. I


And I knit a round of legwarmer this morning. Just one.


I had hoped that one of you, at least, would share my care home experience, and was especially glad therefore to see your comment yesterday, Janet. I am planning to take my laptop with me and Tell You All About It, day by day. I’ll have the iPad, of course – which means, incidentally, that I don’t need to take any books. They’ll all be in there. We thought about care for my husband, when he was about at the stage of decline where I am now, and did some mild investigations. Nothing ever came of it. In those days wi-fi provision was something to ask about. Nowadays, it can (I hope) be taken for granted.


Helen is slightly afraid that I will just sit in my room knitting for a fortnight. Here I am forced by circumstances to keep moving about, at least somewhat. On the contrary, I am determined to take advantage of all the physiotherapy and exercise classes on offer. They promise good food, too, and wine with your dinner. 


Helen has how departed for this first of her adventures – a trip to Oxford for the Covid-delayed graduation of her second son Mungo.

Monday, May 09, 2022


Here I still am.


Continuing to mend, I think, although with setbacks. I’m still not knitting, although beginning to feel the lack of it in my day. I feel that’s a good sign.


The big excitement around here is that I am going into care next week – temporary, respite care because Daniela is going home to Romania for two months,  and Helen is shooting off higher and yon, teaching mosaic-making in Perthshire and Greece, having a family holiday in Greece. My care home is impossibly grand and expensive, and I am counting on them for some useful rehabilitation. Since I am spending all that money anyway, I am tempted to buy Kate Davies’ Mooch kit to take with me. To protect myself from the finger-painting class, if nothing else.

I'm worried about my cats.


I had a hole-in-one in Wordle last week. It’s no fun at all.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022


I have been very grateful for your messages. I am somewhat better, I think – sad to be pent indoors during this most glorious of months.


How much has Helen told you? Very shortly after James’ withdrawal to his bed, I got sick too. James and Cathy stuck it out until Helen returned from Ravenna, then got themselves home to London(James still testing negative, and still feeling weak). Soon after that I was swept off to hospital where I was found to have not Covid but flu. They announced this with a pride which suggested that I was expected to cry, “Oh! man of learning!” (Carla, that’s for you.) I had to stay there until they were satisfied with my oxygen saturation. In the old days, it was bowels that doctors were devoted to but now it’s oxygen saturation.


I’ve been home for a week now, very feeble but perhaps making progress, and oxygen saturation continues high.


No knitting in any of that time. And I think I worked out yesterday that it’s been four weeks since I walked around the garden.