Friday, March 24, 2023

 It has been a grey, wet day. We’ve been needing the wet – February was most unusually dry. But such weather doesn’t tempt me to even think of trying to get out. My hip is undoubtedly deteriorating. I’m not altogether sure I could get across the road to the garden, even on a fine day.


But I can knit. I have proceeded without incident attaching edging to the Shetland shawl. The first corner draws closer.


I saw Helen briefly this morning. I had conceived the idea that if we could come to some decision about how to deal with the Things in this house, it would be easier to think of how to deal with me, but she thought that would be All Too Much and we will have to leave the house ticking over for the time being. That is a strong reason for staying in it. It is getting on for a century ago, when my husband’s father died and his widow moved from a biggish house into a pleasant cottage nearby, in rural Sussex. She put a lot of furniture into store. She died without a will, in the early ‘50s. My husband took the things in store, his sister, who had been living with their mother and looking after her, the cottage and its contents.


A lot of what was in store is  big, brown furniture, all still with us. But some of it is more interesting – a Japanese clock here, a painted cabinet there. And there are books of some interest from the 1920’s. And the pictures my husband bought with a good eye over a long life. Are we to pack it all off to an auctioneer?  My four children must decide. I hope somebody will keep something, but they may not be able to afford to.


How fortunate we are in technology. My email won’t change wherever I go. We can still get together with Zoom. And I can take all the books I will ever want to read along in my iPad.


Wordle: My starters gave me a green and three browns. Oh, dear. I don’t like anagrams.  But I thought of a qualifying word quite soon. It’s not one that trips off the tongue very often. I typed it in not expecting much – but it was right. So, three for me. That was early in the morning. I thought maybe the slight oddity of the word would mean the others would struggle for longer, and I was encouraged in that thought when the next post, a four, came in from Thomas. But no – there were lots of threes, including the Americans, father and son. And Mark blew us all out of the water with a two. Alexander scored four like his son Thomas. That was some comfort.



Thursday, March 23, 2023

 It has been a lovely – chilly – spring day, I sat out on the step for a bit, while Helen trimmed my roses. We’ll have an expedition to a garden center soon after she returns from next week’s visit to Greece, which should be at its most wonderful. And also, of course, we have a visit to a care home already scheduled for that week.


Knitting has progressed well.  I’m knitting and attaching edging to the Shetland hap, and am currently half way along the first side. Maybe I will have it finished in time to hand to Rachel to take back to London after all. I have about a fortnight, I think, before she and her husband are here. And my careful counting and slight adjustment of stitch numbers has paid off, on this first side, at least. It’s going to come out right.


Thank you, again, for your helpful comments about my future. Lisa, Helen’s house doesn’t have a full bathroom on the ground floor – but getting in and out of the bathtub here is getting more precarious every week and I’m sure Daniella would be able to switch to an efficient sponge bath. Like all British householders, I want to be able to leave the value of this flat to my children. There is a special inheritance tax allowance for a family house left to descendants, and I think it applies even if the house has been sold under circumstances like mine, but that would have to be carefully investigated. On the other hand, Helen’s career in mosaics is blooming, and the burden on her would be heavy if this house had to be cleared and sold. Will be heavy, when I die. It’ll have to be done one day.


On the other hand again, we’ve got Daniella, strong and intelligent and willing. The house can be left ticking over expensively on its own when I first leave, in case I want to come back. But not forever. I think a family conference involving Rachel’s cool intelligence could be useful, as mentioned yesterday.


Wordle: I’ve remembered what I wanted to say from yesterday! My starter words are TRAIN and HOUSE. You’re welcome to them, with my blessing. And the principle I have adopted is, whenever those starters reveal a brown U  (as they did yesterday) (or even a green one), to explore the possibility of QU. Yesterday I had T and U and E as starter-browns, and I put QUIET as my third line. It couldn’t have been right, because “I” had already been eliminated, but it was very useful like many a Jean-word before it. I now had ???, U, ???, E, T and from there to DUVET was but a small step.


Today was a quick-and-easy three. I do like the days when I don’t have to leave Wordle behind for a while and go on to the morning papers. And it looked as if Mark and I, the early birds, were going to be the only threes, but when dawn reached the Eastern Seaboard, Theo logged in with another. Fours elsewhere, but Ketki needed five and daughter-Rachel the whole six.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Today’s news is nothing to do with cats or even with knitting. If you go to and look for Helen Miles, you will find her new mosaic book. It won’t be published for a few days yet, and she hasn’t even got copies herself, but there it is on Amazon.


Otherwise there is little to report. I have made some progress with the hap shawl edging – I’m not far along enough yet to begin to get forgetful. I’ve memorised it – it’s very simple – and that speeds things forwards a bit. And I finished a ball of yarn this morning – that’s always an achievement in this yarn-y house.


Thank you for your comments, especially yours, Shandy, which makes a lot of sense: to move in with Helen and plan regular respite sessions in expensive nursing homes. I did enjoy, when I was in one last summer, the sense that help was available all night every night, right there. And much of the time these days, Helen’s household consists of herself and Archie, so I wouldn’t be too much of a crowd. And Daniela could still come to us there. And the cats could come with me to Helen’s house, but not into a nursing home. The thought of actually moving out of here is appalling. Maybe when Rachel and Ed are here next month and have observed me tottering about for a couple of days, we could have some sort of a conference.


Wordle: (to turn to a more cheerful subject) I had three browns this morning, two vowels and a consonant. I deliberately put in a Jean word for line three – it re-used a letter already eliminated. It was wrong, of course, but very useful. I scored four. So did most others, but Ketki and Mark had threes.  I’ll try to remember tomorrow to tell you the principle that guided me to that Jean-word.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Paradox has been carried off to the vet for her post-operative check-up, protesting mightily. She’s fine, and shouldn’t be gone long. If only my hip could be so briskly and successfully dealt with.


At last, some knitting news to report. I’ve finished the borders of the Shetland hap, and embarked – not without difficulty – on the edging. I’ve done this often enough before, but found myself sitting there in some confusion, with three sets of live stitches: the ones I had just cast on to a short DP, and the two ends of the circular needle on which I had been knitting the borders. Things weren’t helped by the fact that the text of the Craftsy instructions said clearly not to break the yarn, whereas Gudrun in the video said the opposite, and demonstrated it.


However, after some struggle, and a pause for lunch and nap, I’ve got it, and have knit two whole scallops. It’s a very simple edging. I think I remember from past projects that the main difficulty is going to be the mind wandering. I have become one of Franklin’s patrons. He offered us a Victorian edging today, very pretty. I was tempted for 30 seconds or so, maybe less. I don’t need a complication, and that edging was too fancy for a basic hap.


Comments: Anonymous, yesterday: I don’t think I have ever heard of “feidenkrasis”, and will look it up. I have actually got osteonecrosis, meaning that some of the bone is worn away: they all tell me that no treatment other than surgery, or series of exercises,  will help although it is a good idea to keep up with exercises anyway. Sarah in Manhattan, those stairs are tremendously good for you, as I’m sure you know. I hope you’ll stick it out for awhile.


I keep thinking about my own future, and getting nowhere. There’s much to be said on one side (moving in with Helen) and on the other (an up-market nursing home). Maybe I should just stay here until the next crisis forces a choice.


Wordle: I was glad you had CREDO, Sarah. I was worried at the news that the Wordle word might not be the same worldwide. Still a puzzle, but at least there’s your testimony to an American CREDO. We all found today’s word pretty easy: all threes and fours – I was a three – except for Mark, who trumped us all with a two.

Paradox is home, and well, and cross. I must go feed her.



Monday, March 20, 2023

 Paradox usually sleeps at the foot of my bed, on a folded blanket placed there for the purpose. Last night, she curled up next to me, at waist height. It was nice to be able to stretch out a hand in the darkness and find Soft. It was awkward, however, getting up in the night to pee, as I often do, and worse, getting back into bed without disturbing the cat. My hip is getting worse. Finding a comfortable position for it in bed is not altogether easy. A sleeping cat in mid-bed doesn’t help.

I think quite a lot these days about whether the time is coming when I should move into care, or in-with-Helen. Especially now that the hope of being made mobile by surgery has receded.  Much to be said on both sides. 

Otherwise, there is little to report. Knitting has advanced to the decrease round. I was getting on fine with the first side when the lunchtime excitement began – a friend, a Mindful Chef delivery, the need to cook lunch after the friend left. I hope to do some more this evening.

 Wordle: KayT, comment yesterday, I didn’t like CREDO because I don’t regard it as an English word. CREED would have been fine.

 Four for me today, not the worst score. My starters gave me a green and a brown, both vowels. My starters include five very common consonants, but there is a pair of consonants I’m rather fond of which aren’t eliminated so when it is possible, I start out in line three by trying to include them. So I did today. The answer was wrong – but it gave me ???, grn, grn, grn, grn which was good enough to be going on with.

 Rachel was today’s star, with the only three. Fours for me and Thomas and Alexander. Five for Mark and Ketki 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

 Perdita continues to mend. She spent last night with me, as usual. Her appetite, never entirely lacking, has improved enormously. I continue to succeed at grinding up a cat-antibiotic and administering it to her. Helen also brought home a cat-painkiller and wants me to administer that, too – but I’m sure Paradox would tell me is she were in pain, and I’m sure I speak cat well enough to understand if she did. She must go back to the vet for a check-up on Tuesday. She won’t like that.


 I was pleased to find that veterinary science has moved on to the point where she wasn’t sent home with one of those funnel-shaped plastic neck braces. Perdita was, seven years ago. She took it off the first night. I told Helen this time to ask how to take it off, if they insisted on inflicting one on Paradox, but they didn’t. Nor has she shewn any interest in in messing with her wound.

[Microsoft Word's spelling checker accepts "shewn" -- well done, Mr. Gates. Blogger's doesn't like it.}


I wish I could report so well of my knitting, but alas, no. I’ve done some. The rounds are enormous. I’ve got one and one-half more to do.


Ireland beat England at rugby, and thus won a Grand Slam – they beat every one of the rest of us this year. I learned – a propos my reference yesterday to the English team singing their national anthem in Dublin – that 50 years ago, before I was interested in rugby, during the Troubles, Scotland and Wales were scared and stayed away from Dublin, but England went, and were applauded by the Irish crowd as they took the field. They lost. Their captain remarked afterwards that they weren’t very good, but at least they turned up. That’s sort of heart-warming but I still don’t like shamrocks and St. Patrick.


Wordle: the nearest small town to Kirkmichael, over the hills past the new wind farm, is Alyth. I had a brown T and A and H from my starters yesterday, but Wordle wouldn’t allow ALYTH. Their loss.


Today was another struggle, and again I don’t entirely approve of the answer. I scored five, joined there by Alexander and Mark. Theo needed six. My five is not disgraceful in such company, and nobody shamed us with a three. Fours elsewhere.

Saturday, March 18, 2023


Perdita continues well – at least, the last time I saw her. She spent part of last night with me, and ate an antibiotic with her breakfast this morning. But now – late afternoon – I don’t know where she is.


Today is the last day of this year’s Six Nations rugby. Scotland beat Italy in the early match – it was a Hollywood-type thriller at the end. France beat Wales handily – I didn’t watch that one. And soon England will play Ireland in Dublin. I’m going to have to cheer for England, although it goes against the grain. They’re very much the underdog – that helps. Franklin has solved our St Patrick’s Day problem, by the way. Trust him! The feast day is shared by Ste Gertrude of Nivelles, who is patroness of cats. I’ve checked it out– he’s right, of course.


I’ve got the iPad showing the match here at my elbow, and am very glad to report that history has moved on to the point where the English team is able to sing their national anthem in Dublin. Very recently, that wasn’t possible.


Not much knitting, but I hope for a bit more during the rugby. Three rounds to go, I think.


Wordle: Two for Alexander and Ketki – remarkable! Three for Mark, four for the rest of us.

Friday, March 17, 2023


Paradox seems well, and has consumed at least some of the pills I have ground up for her today. She didn’t sleep with me last night, though, as is her normal practice.


Not much knitting (why not?), but some. I somehow thought that knitting garter stitch by means of all these agonizing purl rounds exempted me from some of life’s other problems, and as a result I find that I have a round of purl bumps on the right side, where I most recently switched colours. Lucy Neatby has a Craftsy class on how knitting works. I suspect I ought to run through it again.


Helen was here this morning. We have booked ourselves a tour of a nursing home near here. Edinburgh seems full of posh nursing homes – they weren’t here eight or nine years ago when we were wondering if my husband should go to one. (He was bed-blocking at the Western Infirmary near here. They have a whole purpose-built block for such patients. I couldn’t cope at home until we had a “care package” in place. Eventually we got one, and he spent his last months here, and died here. He didn’t fancy going into a nursing home so we didn’t pursue the idea.) This one – that Helen and I are going to visit – is very slightly cheaper than the place where I was for a fortnight last summer, and sounds comparable. Its nearness to Drummond Place is an advantage.

American holidays are creeping in here, wherever there is money to be made. Mother's Day and Halloween are big business now. Both were quiet, unobtrusive, native holidays once. For many years, however, St Patrick confined himself to Ireland and the USofA. St Andrew stays at home in Scotland (neeps and haggis), and I have even seen a Welshman wearing a leek. But St Patrick is making progress, I am afraid. Something to do with the Good Friday Agreement.

Will Biden really visit Ireland next month, and stay away from the Coronation?


Wordle: A spread of results again today.  My starters gave me two vowels, one green, one brown. I scored five, after two Jean-words, and regard today’s answer as something of a toughie. Roger was the star – his first line was a green and two browns, and he lept from there to the answer. Impossible! Ketki had five like me. The threes were Thomas and Mark. Fours elsewhere.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

 Poor Paradox is still at the vet’s, recovering, I hope, from being spayed. Helen will bring her home soon, if all is well. Perdita has much enjoyed being The Cat again, and has even stopped looking anxiously over her shoulder. And I am feeling rather drained, after Monday’s ordeal, and suffering in anticipation for Paradox.


But knitting has progressed somewhat in the midst of all this. The lacy rounds on the borders of the Shetland hap shawl are now finished. There are four or five plain rounds to be done – including two or three purl rounds – and then I’m set fair. There’ll be lots of counting, and a decrease round of all things, and then only the edging to be knit on, which I love.


Rachel and Ed will be here in early-ish April – the baby is due in late-ish April. It would be nice to have the shawl finished and blocked for them to take back to London with them, but I don’t think that will quite work and I hate knitting to a deadline so I won’t think about it.


….Paradox is home, active and agitated. I’ve got antibiotic pills which I am to administer from tomorrow morning, grinding them up in a mortar and pestle. And also a painkiller. That one is liquid and has to be injected, so to speak, into cat food. A long life led in close conjunction with cats suggests that administering medicaments can’t be done, but I’ll try.  


Wordle: widely differing scores today. Alexander and Mark were the stars, with three. I had five, Roger six, poor daughter-Rachel failed, with no fewer than four unsuccessful attempts at ???, grn, grn, grn, grn. I can only think of two possible words from that position, apart from the correct one. Fours elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


I’m terribly sorry – and thank you profoundly for nudging me. What follows is what I wrote for you, and saved, but somehow failed to post, on Monday evening:


I had a nice time at the Murrayfield Hospital this morning. We have decided not to proceed. (“On one point rather sore, but on the whole, delighted.”) The surgeon we met didn’t think I was a very good bet because of old age, a history of pulmonary embolisms (years ago, but I still take blood thinners) and perhaps cider-drinking. He was doubtful from the beginning, when I arrived by wheelchair. It would be safer to wait until my number comes up at the NHS, he said, because they are better equipped to deal with the things that might go wrong. He put the chances of going-wrong at about one in ten. Helen was horrified.


He has given us a secret Royal Infirmary telephone number which we can ring up to find out how I am progressing on the waiting list, but we’re not to tell them where we got it.


There is a danger that the hip could quite suddenly become very painful. It’s only slightly ache-y now. I sometimes take paracetamol at night.


The experience left me very tired. I had a nice long nap. But little knitting has been done. I was wrong, I think: the colours on my hap are all right. The normal thing for hap colpurs is to segue from dark to light and back again. But Gudrun’s pattern said that each of the colours employed requires more than one 25gr ball, and I didn’t have more than one ball of anything. So I have simply been knitting them in six-round stripes, which simplifies things considerably because the lacy round is every sixth.


So at the moment I am knitting the last of my colours, and the penultimate lacy round. I think I will go back to the bright colour I started with. I’m pretty sure there won’t be enough to finish a six-round stripe. I’ll switch to the main colour when I run out.


Wordle: Four was the score today, although Daughter Rachel, Thomas, and Roger had three. The pattern was interesting: most of us, including me,  lost a guess on ???,grn,grn,grn,grn but Ketki and Roger had grn,grn,grn,???,grn instead.


That’s it. Little or nothing to add. I now see that I got as far as copying it to Blogger: it's stored here as a draft. 

I continue to feel unusually feeble. And Helen continues horrified at the Murrayfield surgeon’s summing up of me, and wonders if I am fit to be left to live here alone. I'm not sure about that either. 


Wordle: Mary Lou, I agree with you about EMAIL. It’s an abbreviation. At least I got it, unlike DEBUG which I also disapproved of, on shakier ground, perhaps.


My two starters gave me two browns this morning, one vowel, one consonant. From that weak start, I nearly got it: grn, ???, grn, grn, grn. The fourth guess was right. And a score of four was common today. Thomas and Mark got three. Roger needed five.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

 Big news today: my granddaughter Lizzie, youngest of the four children of my daughter Rachel, rang up this morning to say – not that she was about to get married, as I expected from the lift in her voice – but that she and her long-term partner Dan are expecting a baby in September.  I hope they will get married – I think it probably helps in the tough patches with which all lives are invested, and there are various legal advantages. Maybe they are against it in principle. And meanwhile, I’ve got another great=grandchild to knit for. They are getting to be as common as Calcutta Cup victories.


Lizzie has been assigned a midwife named, I think, Norman. Her mother Rachel was concerned, and told her to insist on being transferred to a woman if she felt at all uneasy at the first encounter. However, it turns out that Norman is the mother of two, and Lizzie liked him a lot on first meeting, so that’s all right. It’s a funny old world.


My first thought is to go for another hap, but this time a lacier one. Jamieson and Smith sell lots of (what I suspect are mostly Gladys Amedro) lace-weight patterns with yarn. You may be sure that I’m not going to get involved with purl rounds again. I think I’ve picked one out, but there’s no hurry. I must finish the current one first, and I can trust J&S to fill the order quickly when I’m ready.


Meanwhile the knitting moves slowly forward on the hap for the great-grandchild which is almost with us. There’s nothing wrong with the colours at all.


Wordle: my starters gave me three browns today: a vowel and two consonants. I struggled mightily, but finally gave up and put in what might well be classed as a Jean-word: it fully qualified, but it was plural, and Wordle (so far) doesn’t do that. However, like many a Jean-word before it, it was very useful. I now had three greens and a brown, which is as good as having four greens since there was only one place for that brown to go. So I got it in four. Three for Daughter-Rachel, Mark, and Roger; five for Thomas. Fours elsewhere.


I lost my stats when I was lured into subscribing to the Times, you may remember. My new fours bar is way out in front of my fives (which wasn’t true before).



Sunday, March 12, 2023


France beat England yesterday, roundly. The match was in London (I was wrong) and England had never in the history of rugby football lost at home by so wide a margin. Ireland beat Scotland today. And since watching England lose is a good deal more amusing than doing the same for Scotland, I am feeling less than cheerful this evening. Here is a link (I hope) to a Six Nations ad which was never shown on the BBC because they decided it was “anti-English”.


I got quite a bit of plain knitting done both yesterday and today, but now I find that something is slightly off with the row count. Have I short-changed one of the stripes? Done four rounds where I should have done six? I’ll do a bit of counting and calculating before I go to bed. I don’t really like garter stitch, despite EZ’s enthusiasm for it.


My appt with the surgeon is early tomorrow. I am anxious and apprehensive. I have re-read the letter from the man we (=Helen and I) saw on the NHS some weeks ago. It is more balanced than I had remembered between the options of operating and not-operating, given my age and “co-morbidities”. I must not let myself be rushed into anything. Paradox will be spayed on Thursday. The poor beast is at least spared some anxiety and apprehension.


C. came and took me to Mass this morning, always pleasant. She is just back from London where she stayed with Rachel and Ed and had a good time and saw a lot.


Wordle: Alexander claims that the late postings of his Wordle score are because he has changed his daily routine. Why on earth?


Three, I think, was our majority score today, including me. My starters gave me four browns. I hate anagrams, but the first qualifying word I thought of was right. It turned out that my four browns were the four last letters, and that there were at least two other possibilities for that first position. Mark (six) and Daughter Rachel (five) both fell victim to that unfortunate configuration. Alexander, who didn’t, needed five.

Saturday, March 11, 2023


I must keep my eye on the clock – there’s rugby to watch soon: France-England, in Paris I think. I cheer for France. Scotland will play Ireland here in Edinburgh tomorrow. Ireland are sweeping all before them this year, but Scotland are not doing too badly and will have what they call Home Advantage.


Helen came this morning and we walked out, briefly. It was cold but bright and wonderful and vernal. I was taken aback at how feeble I am. The hip is somewhat worse, I know; nights are sometimes uncomfortable. But is that all? Helen thinks total rejuvenation is possible if I do more exercises. There is an obituary in today’s Times of a doctor, distinguished for his work in pharmaceuticals, who drank and smoked and didn’t do his hip exercises. He scooted around the kitchen on an office chair. I hadn’t thought of that.


I got back into Craftsy with ease this morning. The I-am-not-a-robot test came up instantly and was embarrassingly easy. I feel sure yesterday’s difficulty was their fault and not mine. I’ve finished the lacy round. There will be two more, I think. I may be able to knit a bit during today’s rugby.


Wordle: Ketki was late today; Alexander hasn’t been heard from yet. I’ve emailed to ask what’s up. They could still be in India, for all I know.


The rest of us were somewhat spread about today. Roger was worst, with five. Mark was best, with a brilliant two. His starter word provided one brown, and he lept from there to an unlikely win. Three for Thomas, fours for the rest of us, including me.  


Friday, March 10, 2023


Thank you for comments; especially yours, Chloe. I feel irrationally guilty (as well as terrified) about Spending the Kids’ Inheritance on private surgery. It’s the surgeon who should feel guilty. I am reducing the NHS waiting list by one, at considerable cost to myself. I did this once before, with cataracts, and didn’t feel guilty at all. I wasn’t safe to drive. My husband had given up driving. It was go-private or no-Kirkmichael all summer. That time – it was quite a while ago – I don’t suppose I jumped the queue by more than three or four months, at the worst. And paying meant that I could stay in the private hospital overnight: that was welcome. This hip thing will be in the same place.


Helen will go with me on Monday, I could scarcely get there without her. But you’re right, I’ll need her as a witness.


I continue to read Jeeves-and-Wooster, and it’s wonderfully soothing. Bertie has problems, even worse than my problems. Jeeves solves them. My problem today is this: I knit steadily on, and have reached the next lace row. I know the basic pattern, but the configuration at the ends of each side (I’m knitting the borders) changes a bit because stitches are added at each corner every knit round. I haven’t printed the pattern out this time. I just nip in to Craftsy whenever I reach a lace row.


And today, I can’t get in. After email address and password, you have to attest that you are not a robot, and answer questions based on that irritating grid. Today, the grid won’t come up. The little circle just keeps going around. (Having written that, I tried on this leptop computer, and got in – they took my word for it that I wasn’t a robot. So all is well, I guess.) I’ll have to sit in here in the catalogue room if I want to knit that lace round this evening.)


Kate Davies’ new book is here, “Allover”. And to my very considerable disappointment, it doesn’t contain any of the interesting essays on colour, by Kate and others, which we have been reading week by week as part of club membership. Are they still on-line somewhere?


Wordle: Alexander turned up at lunchtime today. Curioser and curioser. It was a toughy. He scored six, as did Mark and Theo and I. Ketki and her son Thomas managed fives. My daughter Rachel came home with the only four. I am beginning to feel that she does rather well rather often.

Thursday, March 09, 2023


Helen’s back, and in good form. The project in Perth went well, and all is well in Kirkmichael. The weather forecasts which have been worrying me so much were wrong – the Midlands and the North of England got the snow, Scotland just bitter cold. Here are some of our snowdrops, their shoulders somewhat hunched against the cold:


So the next thing to worry about is the appt with the orthopaedic surgeon on Monday morning. What if I don’t like him? Poor Paradox’ spaying is later next week.

 Thank you for the comments about purling. I wonder if you are right, Kirsten, and it would be easier with a straight needle tucked under an arm? And Tamar, I will certainly try bringing the yarn in over my left shoulder. It will be an incentive to do some more this evening. Two observations: 1) they clearly don’t like purling Fair Isle on Shetland. Avoiding it is the point of all those steeks and cutting. 2) In my adolescent, untutored knitting, I was doing something odd – I have suspected since that I must have been wrapping the yarn the “wrong” way around the needle during the purl rows, because it was markedly easier in the purl rows than in the knit ones, to insert the needle into the stitch. Halfway to combination knitting?

 Wordle: Alexander turned up at 7:30 yesterday evening, with a perfectly satisfactory four. He was late again today, with an even better three. His wife and his best friend Mark were as early as usual. It is hard to think of why Alexander might be away from home without the one, unless he were going to visit the other.

 I got five today, along with Roger and Thomas. Alexander’s wife and sister and best friend joined him with three.


Wednesday, March 08, 2023

 There has been no more news from Perthshire. Helen said she would be back tomorrow. We shall see. Computer weather seems to suggest that Kirkmichael is bitter, bitter cold but dry. A few flakes of snow have fallen in London, sending the nation’s weather-writers into a tizzy of excitement. There has been nothing like that in Edinburgh yet; just much cold.


Again, I didn’t go out. I’ve been exercising conscientiously.


And knitting. If I ever knit one of these haps again – it’s not impossible – I’ll leave one corner open and knit the garter stitch border back and forth. I found myself wondering today, as I toiled through yet another enormous-seeming purl round, why purling seems so uncomfortable. I am self-taught, in early adolescence. My mother didn’t knit, and grandmothers, who both did, were distant. I drop-and-throw. I have many times tried to teach myself a more efficient method, including doing that Craftsy class on Portuguese knitting. No luck. Arne and Carlos offer some hope, perhaps. Anyway, looking at my hands, I don’t see why drop-and-throw purling should be much different, as a physical experience, from drop-and-throw knitting. But it is. And this seems to apply to other forms of purling as well.


Wordle: I allowed myself to be seduced today by the NYTimes’ subscription offer, which would include a commentary on my Wordle technique. The result is that I have lost my stats. It doesn’t really matter much. I know that my percentage was 90. It will probably be better from here on out. And my commonest score was 5. I was hoping to get the 4’s to overtake it. Maybe I can even achieve that. I was more careless in my early days, and used a lot of Jean-words. I try much harder now to make every word, after the two starters, a possible answer.


Today: Silence, so far (6:15 p.m.) from Alexander. That’s most unusual. His wife Ketki is alive, anyway: she and her sister-in-law Rachel both scored three. Mark and I got four. Thomas and Theo, the young generation, needed five.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023


It has been a beautiful, sunny day – but cold, cold out there. I have had a cheerful email from Helen saying that all is well at Burnside, and that our snowdrops are in fine form. They are one of the features of the house. I am still afraid that the weather may take her by surprise and snow her in – the house is downhill from the road, and the forecast grows more sinister later in the week. It’s no use worrying.


I have knit only a little. I hope to do a little more this evening. Today was bath day – stepping into the tub gets harder every week. Getting out is slightly easier. (At my fancy nursing home, if I get there, one sits on a plastic chair under a shower while one's attendants do the work) That’s all I’ve done, apart from exercises and cooking what proved to be a rather unsatisfactory Mindful Chef lunch. They can’t win ‘em all. Cooking even the simplest dish is fairly strenuous when you’re pushing a zimmer frame around the kitchen. The horrors of surgery are worth facing if they offer the possibility of freer movement. Meanwhile Daniella has brought me some lasagne which will do fine for supper.


One of my very favourite Times columnists has just survived surgery, which she dreaded as I do: that’s encouraging. She is Melanie Reid, who is quadriplegic after falling off a horse. Despite the “quad-“ she has quite a lot of function in her right arm – and now she’s got cancer in her right breast, and was worried that the operation would disable the arm. But she has survived, and is well enough to write an article. She has had lots more operations that I have; it’s sort of comforting to know that she was afraid, and that she is alive. I had tonsils and appendix and the removal of a large birthmark from my left shin in childhood, but things have been calmer since, and childhood was a long time ago.  I still make myself aware of that birthmark and its scar if I suddenly need to distinguish left from right.


Wordle: my second starter word handed me the answer today: grn, grn, ???, grn, grn – and I already had the missing letter as a brown from the first starter word. If only I had reversed the order of the starters, I might have scored two. I’ve never had a two. So I got three today. Ketki and her son Thomas, with fours, were the only ones to do even slightly worse.


Tamar, yesterday’s word of which such disapproval was expressed, was PINKY.


Monday, March 06, 2023


Life is back to normal. Daniella restored the house to order, and Archie came for a pleasant hour between assignments. He is working for a charity which may well be called Scottish Autism. Something similar if not. He goes about befriending the people he is assigned to. Sometimes that means cleaning and tidying and even cooking, sometimes just sitting and talking, or going for a walk. 


Chloe, that is a good idea about weights. I have a couple. My husband used to tie them on his ankles when he was doing exercises similar to the ones I am doing now – sitting in a chair, lifting first one leg and then the other, holding it out with the knee straight for five seconds or so. Never did him much good. I am getting on pretty well, and thought I might try it with weights. I set Daniella to finding them. She can find anything. I’ve also got stretchy bands for exercising the arms, left for me by the personal trainer I used to have, who went off to Orkney. Daniella has located them, too.


I very much hope that I can spend two or three weeks in the fancy care home where I was last summer, after this operation. Their physiotherapy is good, and they should be able to advise on a future programme as well as dealing with the immediate situation.


Knitting continues, slow but steady. I have done a fourth lace round. There are three more to come, with many a plain knit or purl round in between. 


Wordle: I don’t entirely approve of today’s word. I hope that isn’t too much of a hint. I scored five, today’s highest score, so maybe that is sour grapes speaking. Granddaughter Rachel – we haven’t heard from her for a while – was another five; some comfort.  Today’s stars were Thomas, Theo, and Roger with threes. Fours elsewhere. Alexander and Ketki both posted their scores at about 7:15. That might mean that they’re home from the subcontinent.

Sunday, March 05, 2023


I have quite enjoyed my unsupervised day, but I won’t be sorry to see Daniella tomorrow morning. I depend on her much as Bertie Wooster depends on Jeeves (my current reading matter). Daniella never says “Yes, Madam”, and there is no reason to suspect that Jeeves could speak a word of Rumanian or Modern Greek, but both are indispensable and of high intelligence. Daniella will be able to figure out a way to block the shawl.


 The knitting goes forward somewhat slowly, but steadily. The Calcutta Cup panel is useful as a constant quick reminder as to which is the right side. I did my exercises, all unsupervised. Walking would be impossible without someone to help me get my walking machine down the six steps at the front door and anyway it was rather cold. 


I saw Helen briefly this morning as she swept in to gather up some mosaic materials on her way north. She assures me she won’t get snowed in at Burnside. I’m not entirely convinced. It has turned cold, and the forecast is gloomy.


She taught an on-line class yesterday and was full of enthusiasm for the system. Gone the tedious hours setting out materials for the students and tidying up after them. And it’s possible to teach more of them at a time on-line, and therefore earn more money,


Wordle: Four for me today, the majority score. Thomas and Theo needed five. Theo’s father Roger scored a distinguished three. The pattern into which a lot of us fell today, including me, was grn, grn, ???, grn, grn.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

 A fairly successful day. The knitting moves forward – two and a half rounds so far today, and I hope for more. I am adding eight stitches every other round as I move outwards from the centre, and they are beginning to tell.


C. has gone to London where she is staying with her cousin Big Rachel. Helen is teaching mosaics in Perth next week, staying in the Kirkmichael house, apprehensive of the forecast cold weather. And Daniela has Sunday off as ush. I am on my own (except for cats) until Monday morning. I m very lucky that such solitude is unusual.


I keep meaning to say that I am glad the lab-leak theory is back near the top of the list to explain the origin of Covid. I am a great fan of William of Occam. His principle, known as Occam’s Razor, is (roughly translated) that the simplest explanation is likely to be the right one. There are wet markets selling strange creatures all over China. There are not many world-class virology labs.


Wordle: I scored a quick and easy three this morning. It was a common score. The only outliers were Thomas, with five; and Big Rachel, with an impressive two.


Yesterday my starter words gave me a green vowel, U, in position 3; and three further browns. I wish I could remember what I entered on line three – I wasn’t at all sure that it was a word, but Wordle accepted it. It wasn’t right but it helped, and I scored four. However, what I wanted to tell you is that when you know you have a U it is always worth trying a Q with it. It’s a letter that (understandably) tends to get forgotten about otherwise. If I had done that yesterday, I might have found the solution – SQUAT – in three. I had all the other letters, as browns.  I kept trying to find something that would let me keep ST together.


Surely someone left a comment about the loss of a tremendous winning-streak. I can’t find it to salute you by name, but you have all my sympathy. My best is a pretty undistinguished 59. Currently it stands at seven. I missed both DEBUG and FIFTY in February.



Friday, March 03, 2023

 An eventful day, in its quiet way. Four for Wordle – that comes later. Helen arrived and got me reinstated with on-line banking at the Bank of Scotland. I also have an account at the Royal Bank – long, boring story – which I use most days. I had forgotten my BofS details -- they must be recorded here somewhere. But my hip-replacement money was meant to go into the BofS, and when Helen finished getting me set up, there it was! 

My hope is that it is enough for the surgery and two or three weeks of recuperation at that fancy place I went to for a fortnight last summer – and perhaps an item or two from as if I were going on a cruise. It would help me to anticipate surgery with less dread, to have some cruise clothes to look forward to. But I’d probably better wait until I meet the surgeon and find out what he actually costs before I start emailing Toast.


And after all that, my iPad suddenly discovered that it couldn’t hear the Internet. I have succeeded, after a struggle, in re-booting it and all is now well. But I feel this sort of crisis is arising too often.


The knitting continues well.


Mary Lou (comment yesterday), my husband’s father was born Church of Scotland to a respectable Edinburgh family. He was 20 in 1914 and must have been of independent mind to resist the temptation to march off and get slaughtered. I don’t know how Quaker he was, other than that he was in on the beginning of the Ambulance Brigade. After the war, but I don’t even know when, he became a Roman Catholic. I look forward to meeting him in heaven and getting all this straight. He died of a brain tumour not long before WW2, long before I met his son.


Wordle: Threes for Ketki, Alexander, daughter-Rachel, and Mark. Roger was with me on four, and then we go up to five for Theo and Thomas. I think I might have had a three, had I remembered to apply a principle of Wordle-solving which I hope I will tell you about tomorrow except of course one forgets. I save the actual answers in my iPad notebook, but that doesn’t cover the preliminary struggle. My starters gave me one green vowel and three further browns today.


If iPad crises continue and I have to have a new one, how to I get my iPad stats to transfer over? Will I have to subscribe to the NYT?

Thursday, March 02, 2023


I’m sorry about yesterday. I had what constitutes for me a busy afternoon – no nap. And when events finally quieted down I was too tired to eat (or blog), and that left me flat this morning. I think I’m back on track now. Now that the mobile telephone problem has been solved (see previous) we are face to face with the problem of cashing in one of my ISA’s to pay for the hip replacement. It is proving something of a struggle, but I think we are making progress.


And the knitting progresses, as well. It's a long way around, especially on the purl rounds. But I'm close to halfway through the feather-and-fan border. 


Small World Dep’t: Friends of Helen’s from Greece are staying with her at the moment. Her friend’s grandfather and my father-in-law – who is Helen’s grandfather; maybe it’s neater to express it that way – were colleagues in the foundation and operation of the Friends Ambulance Service in the First World War.


Wordle: yesterday (MOOSE) my second starter word – which is HOUSE – gave me ???, grn, ???, grn, grn. And so it remained, through lines three, four, and five. I got it, on line six. It made a nice grid of which I was rather proud. No browns at all.


I hoped this morning that I could report that it was Ladies’ Day. Ketki and I scored three; all the chaps came in higher. But daughter Rachel spoiled my little plan  with a five.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023


It has been a fairly inert day, but not without its small achievements. The main one was persuading my mobile telephone to work. I don’t use it much. I depend utterly upon my iPad, and communicate with the world by email. But I like to have a functioning mobile telephone to hand at night for emergencies. And I seemed to have signed up for a system that kept running out without warning me. That has been put right, but it involved a new sim card and the authentication thereof and bank details and wasn’t straightforward. It defeated even Daniela. Helen – who is working here again today – eventually cracked it. Except that I have a new mobile telephone number which threatens to complicate other aspects to life. 


The knitting progressed well. I’ve done another lace round and am beginning to feel slightly more confident. And the m**hs  have continued to eschew the current yarn. That makes things pleasanter. Gudrun shows us in the Craftsy course how to make sure that the lace is lining up with previous lace rounds. She doesn’t give any hints about how to start fudging if it doesn’t. She just looks severe and says that something is wrong. I’ve had a couple of those and think I’ve fudged successfully.


Tamar: (comment yesterday) Our neighbours’ attitude to that ditch is very odd. It has no function in their sheep field. It is out of sight of their house. Why won’t they sell it to us? Why did they plant those leylandii, other than to inconvenience us? They seem reasonable at the moment but years of struggle have made us mistrustful.


I forgot to say yesterday: a week of skulking indoors made Mass-going last Sunday more than ordinarily exciting, as spring was found to have advanced amid the pots on my doorstep. Some things are blooming, and a clematis that I thought Daniela had dealt too harshly with has sent up strong shoots.


Wordle: my starter words yielded two vowels this morning, one green, one brown. As often in similar situations, it was very difficult to think of any qualifying word, but when I did it was a good one, and very Wordle-y. I typed it in with confidence and it was wrong, although now both vowels were green. I struggled on and finally thought of another word, a most unlikely one, T thought, but it qualified. And it was right. So I got four, which was the majority score today. Alexander and Theo got three.


Monday, February 27, 2023


Helen has been here today, mosaic’ing in my husband’s study. It’s a wonderful big room, down at the end of the house. It’s the room, indeed, that sold the house to me. I had been around all the rest, thinking that this might do, and when the owner opened that door and I saw the study, I knew that it would do. It’s a shame that I haven’t had the energy to do anything with it since he died, but it’s nice, at least, that Helen can use it occasionally. And it's been nice to have her here today.


She took poor Paradox down to the vet this afternoon for a preliminary inspection before her spaying. Poor beast.


No rugby today, so a fair amount of knitting. I’ve advanced to the next colour which, so far, appears to have been less inviting to m**ths.


Helen seems to think that the accountant she recently found for me also works for Kate Davies. She (KD) lived very near here, before she went to her current location. It’s entirely possible.


Driveway: We have a Permanent Heritable Servitude over the route of our present driveway. It cost a lot in blood, sweat, and tears (and money). It runs along the side of our neighbours’ field until it reaches our paddock. On the left of the driveway is the field, with sheep. On the right there is a narrow strip of land, belonging of course to the neighbours, and just beyond that – slightly above the level of the driveway – a ditch. At the point where the driveway enters the paddock, the ditch runs under it, and proceeds happily around the edge of the paddock down to the burn.


In that narrow strip of land, the neighbour has planted some leylandii: true to their reputation, fast-growing. But the ditch needs to be cleaned from time to time, or else it overflows onto the driveway. When my husband and I were strong enough, it was our autumn chore. Really rather fun, in good weather. Helen and David are more inclined to get a Man In, with a machine. But the leylandii, as things stand, make that impossible. And they are also big enough, by now, to begin to narrow the driveway.


Helen and David talked to the neighbour and his wife on site on Saturday. I gather the conference went well.


Wordle: We were all over the place today. Alexander and I did it in three, and we were the only threes. Given that today is his birthday, that seemed rather appropriate, even poetic. Thomas needed six, and Roger failed. Fours elsewhere.





Sunday, February 26, 2023


France won. It was a thrilling match.


Tomorrow is Alexander’s sixty-somethingth birthday. I’m sure I tell you every year that he was born in a Leap Year. If he had held out for another 48 hours, as I very much hoped he would – his official “due date” wasn’t until March 4 or 5, I think – he would only be 15 ¾, and we could have named him Frederick, after the hero of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”.


Not much knitting today. The m**hs have been in my new colour and solutions would have been too fiddly to combine with the rugby. I’m still doing the second pattern round of Old Shale in the centre of my hap. The end is in sight, and the stitch count is pretty good. Each of the four sides works separately, so to speak. So if something is off in one of them, it doesn’t mean that there’ll be trouble in the next one.


Helen and David nipped up to Kirkmichael yesterday, to confer with our neighbour about the state of our driveway which edges a field belonging to them. It sounds as if all will be well. There is no way in or out of our house except over their land. I increasingly feel as the years pass that the solicitor who acted for us when we bought the house in 1964 should have ensured that we had a legal right of way somewhere or other. It would have saved us a lot of money and a lot of anguish in subsequent years. Newspapers are full almost daily of heart-rending tales of people who wind up in court because they can’t agree with their neighbours about driveways or trees or fences or Japanese knotweed.


Wordle: five for me today, the class dunce. I moved too fast. The starter words gave me three browns, a vowel and two consonants. I typed in Jean-words for lines three and four, without meaning to. Line three omitted one of the browns. Line four – really rather a good one, I thought – had all the right letters, but two of them were in places I knew perfectly well they weren’t allowed to occupy.


Threes and fours elsewhere, except for my daughter Rachel who scored a brilliant two. Theo is back: he was one of the threes. He slid in late yesterday – after I had marked him absent – with a five.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

 Time for even less than usual tonight – I’ve been watching rugby, and it’s now time for a can of soup and welcome bed.  England beat Wales. Ireland beat Italy, too, but I didn’t watch that one. We play France tomorrow, in Paris. That’s always a good match.


And I got some knitting done. I think I’ve got my stitch count straightened out. I’ve reached the second pattern round -- they come every six rounds -- and the second colour.


We had a post from Kate Davies this morning, about her depression. I don’t think I knew about that. She’s had tremendous problems, with her stroke, but it sounds as if she has been liable to severe depression even longer.


Wordle: I failed, the climax of a dismal week. Alexander and Roger both needed six, some slight comfort perhaps. Fours elsewhere. Nothing from Theo, who is usually very faithful.

Friday, February 24, 2023

 Another sunny day. I’ll have to get out soon. This won’t do.


I did exercises, though. And knit. I’m now halfway around the first round of Old Shale, and am having trouble with the stitch count. Nothing that can’t be fudged. I should have counted yesterday as well as on Wednesday. It makes me feel awfully old and foolish, though. If I can’t even knit Old Shale – Gudrun says that children are given it to do, on Shetland – I might as well indeed retire to my care home and garter stitch squares.


Thank you for your thoughts on blocking. That’s an interesting idea, Tamar, to do it in halves. I went through all this only three years ago, when I knit a hap from this same pattern for wee Hamish, above, in the colours of the South African flag. The South African flag has a great many colours. I think, in the end, I left one out. I saw the shawl recently, when I went to call on their kittens. It’s in good shape. Blocking was a problem then, too, but I must have been considerably more agile.


The single beds in the spare room aren’t quite big enough, and are separated by furniture I don’t want to get involved in moving – although that’s a possibility. I think in the end I did Hamish's shawl on one of the beds, diagonally, pinning the extra corners down over the sides of the mattress. I’d need too many foam blocking mats. I could do it on the double bed and move into the spare room myself for a night or two. But I don’t want to do that. I’m very fond of my bedroom.


Wordle: I scored six, for the second time this week. I didn’t use any Jean-words, either. I had greens for the first two letters, and each time, after typing in lines three, and four, and five, I had a couple of heartbeats when I thought I’d cracked it. Nobody else had much trouble to speak of. They mostly got fours. Roger and Mark were the stars, with threes. Theo needed five – that’s some comfort.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

 Another nice spring day. Bath, exercises, knitting. I’m now well-launched into the k2tog, yo round, and have made a start, at least, on arranging my colours for the excitement to follow. Yesterday involved a lot of stitch-counting, and so far it would appear that I’ve got everything right. I hope you’re right, Beth, that Old Shale is going to be a treat. I am slightly apprehensive.


What am I going to do about blocking? Teach Daniela how to do it, I suppose. I often block lace by spreading a sheet on the floor over a carpet. I wonder if I would dare get down on my knees and crawl about and at least show Daniela what we’re trying to do. That would depend on her being able to get me to my feet again, and might be a bit risky.


Anonymous, thank you for the Gardam recommendations. I’m currently reading the last of the Old Filth trilogy. Both Filth and his wife were dead by the end of volume two. She’s going on with some local friends, and back into the early history of an important character.


Wordle: Alexander and Ketki logged in early, presumably still from a distant continent. Five for her, four for him, and I thot, Oh, dear, it must be another toughie, and was delighted with myself for scoring three. My starters had produced three vowels, one green, two brown. Delight lasted less than an hour. Both Thomas and Daughter Rachel also got three, and then Mark blew us all out of the water with two. Theo needed five: small comfort.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


A nice day, promising spring. But I didn’t go out. I did my exercises – are they actually becoming slightly easier? And knit successfully, and cooked a rather successful Mindful Chef lunch.


Here are Alexander and Ketki, somewhere in India (probably Gujerat). I knit a sweater for the bride – the daughter of one of Ketki’s sisters – when she was a toddler, but I doubt if I can find that picture.


I’ve embarked on the borders of the hap. Every row of the centre square begins with a YO, and the first thing to do is to slide a needle through each of them. from the front It’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Then knit around – but the stitches are now back to front, so that’s a bit slow. Then a purl round, then one with a lot of increases. That’s where I am at the moment. After another purl round, it’ll be k2tog, YO, all the way around, another purl round, and then we’ll be ready to start the colours and the feather and fan. As I remember, it is not quite as easy in garter stitch as it would be in st st, to ensure that the k2togs (of which there are many) are directly on top of each other.


Wordle: I don’t think there’s ever been a word we all found so difficult. Except for Mark, who scored a perfectly respectable four. There were two possible configurations today. One was grn, grn, ???, grn, grn. I got hung up there three times, and scraped home with six. The other was ???, grn. grn, grn, grn. Both Alexander and Thomas got stuck there, and both scored six. Ketki and Daughter Rachel had my pattern, and managed it in five. Theo and his father Roger over there in DC both failed – that’s never happened before in the history of the world. Roger had three shots at ???, grn, grn, grn, grn but missed them all.