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.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023


A pleasant day. No walk, but some knitting. I’ve finished the left front of Fergus’ sweater and slid the stitches along to be ready to start the other side. Not much, but something.

 I think I’ve pretty well decided to go ahead and pay to have my hip replaced privately. Lying in bed this morning – a moment I often find conducive to productive thought – I remembered an ISA account that ought to cover it. In the general financial upheaval that followed my husband’s death, it got transferred into strange hands and since then has swallowed its own tail (=hasn’t paid interest into the general accounts). Helen’s husband David has spent an heroic day trying to gain access to it. Now I need to ring up our doctor and ask to be referred. I will allow myself two or three weeks in that highly comfortable old folks’ home where I spent a fortnight last May. They’re good on convalescence (physiotherapy, visits from doctors). What is to become of my CATS?

ISA means tax-free, so I don’t need to worry about having more or less forgotten about it. We’re in the midst of income tax this month. I feel rather sorry for Mr Zahawi (a remark unintelligible except to British readers). I, too, have had to pay penalties, after the upheaval mentioned above. And he’s a busy man.

Kirsten, the difficulty at my age when it comes to the "rainy day" issue, is not knowing how much to allow for what could turn out to be years of terminal care. I firmly believe that old folks ought to pay for it if they can, rather than relying on the state. But I would also like to leave (the value of) this house to my children. Inheritance tax is heavy here, but the government makes considerable allowance for a family house passed to direct descendants. It's probably simpler not to think about such things. 


Wordle: I failed. First time this year. Theo and Big Rachel did it in three. Thomas offered me some comfort by scoring six.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

 No knitting, again today. How long will any of you want to go on reading this dreary chronicle?


Tuesday was my bath-and-hair-wash day, so no attempt was made at walking. David and Helen came to see me. He’s got one more day here, and then will be back here again at some point in February, so that’s not too bad. Today is Helen’s actual birthday. She was born just in time to avoid coinciding with Robert Burns.


They delivered much thought and advice about my hip; no decision. David and Helen both seem to think I should spend all my spare cash on it, rather than waiting for the NHS. Is it worth it at my age, is the question. Helen pointed out that a successful operation could mean that I would be able to cook. That's a serious incentive. 


Wordle: my starter words yielded two greens and two browns this morning, and I thought, I’ll score  a three! At last! But I guessed wrong. And then, in line four, guessed wrong again. So I wound up with yet another five. No one else in my little group did that badly. There were lots of threes and fours. Theo and Mark distinguished themselves with twos. Theo’s starter word gave him one brown. He seems to have lept from there straight to the solution.

Monday, January 23, 2023


We had a lovely birthday party for Helen yesterday. I got home far too tired to write, as I hoped you guessed. There was no one there except the five members of her immediate family, me, and an old friend whom I think perhaps both Helen and David knew in Cairo before they met each other. Something like that.


Mungo cooked a meal of restaurant quality.  Fergus was sous-chef and Archie washed up. We started with an interesting soup which I think was based on chestnuts. Then toast, with something amusing and delicious to spread on it. The main course was pilaf accompanied by a superb aubergine-based something. I think perhaps he said it was an Ottolenghi recipe. The old friend had brought two puddings, one of them Eton Mess, but I was too tired and too well-fed to stay for more.


And still no knitting. Poor Paradox is in heat – Helen is determined to have her spayed as soon as this is over, and I suppose she’s right. One of the characteristics of that condition is that she picks up my knitting and carries it about the house, with the predictable disastrous results. Daniela rescued it this morning, and has wound the loose yarn around the ball far too tightly. So I should have knit at least that much today, but didn’t Tomorrow, I hope.


Helen came, and we walked as far as the garden. It was a grey day, with a breath of spring.


Wordle: I’m not having a very distinguished month – 6 yesterday, 5 today. At least, no failures so far. Today’s word is tough but fair. Ketki and Theo joined me with five. Otherwise it was fours all around except for Mark’s brilliant three.



Saturday, January 21, 2023


I’m sorry about yesterday. All is essentially well – Helen is safely back from Perthshire, is the main thing. She found it pretty cold. Her husband David is here from Thessaloniki. Tomorrow is the slightly premature 60th birthday celebration. I have still done no knitting, but I sincerely hope that once I have assumed my festive costume tomorrow morning, I will sit and knit while I wait for my chauffeur. Archie and Mungo and Fergus are responsible for the lunch.


David and I share a birthday, and – almost better yet – he is 30 years younger than I am. So my 90th, in August, will be his 60th. Madhur Jaffrey, a favourite cook, shares my birthday, year as well as month and day.


Kate Davies has produced a brilliant essay on the colour green for the “Allover” club. Green has unfortunate associations because of the poisons once used to produce it. When I was young and carefree (never), sharing a flat in Glasgow with an Irish girl in the mid-50’s, I knit a small garment in green for Oberlin friends back in the US, and Anne told me that green was regarded as bad luck to knit for a baby. This seemed to me at the time an odd superstition for an Irishwoman. But it fits right in with KD’s essay. I have long since lost touch with those friends, alas, so I don’t know what became of the baby.


Wordle: I scored three yesterday and somewhat recovered self-respect. Everybody else did pretty well too. Today, we were all over the place again. I scored an undistinguished five in which I was joined by Little Rachel. Thomas – and he’s clever – needed six, which made me feel better. A scattering of fours. Ketki, Mark, and Big Rachel were today’s stars with threes.


Thursday, January 19, 2023

 Another cold day – and another one of non-achievement. I haven’t heard yet that Helen is safely home, but there hasn’t been any great fall of snow in central Perthshire. That’s something. JennyS (comment yesterday) – it’s wonderful that you remember the Blairgowrie telephone box which figured in yesterday’s anecdote. It was set somewhat back from the pavement, with benches on either side I think. On one of which was sitting the drunk woman who was involved in the events which followed.


Many years later, that dear cat died in Kirkmichael. My husband and I sat with her while it happened, and he buried her on the brae behind the house.


But non-achievement includes no knitting. What’s the matter with me? I feel pretty well, except for the blasted hip. I couldn’t help sympathising somewhat with Mr Nadal, whose left hip took him out of the Australian Open yesterday. I’m sorry they wasted the Radecanu-Gough pairing on the second round – Wimbledon would have managed to avoid doing that – but I’m glad Gough won. I love her.


I have been fighting midwinter gloom by reading Wodehouse. My husband and I read aloud at bedtime for all of our long life together. Rather, I read. I couldn’t stay awake otherwise. We got through a lot, from Tolstoy to J.K. Rowling via a lot of Trollope, but Wodehouse was a failure. One couldn’t avoid laughing aloud, and that isn’t conducive to subsequent sleep. Our great success was Ulysses. It’s meant to be read aloud.


Wordle: I was the class dunce again today. I got stuck with grn, grn, ??, ??, grn, and managed to guess wrong three times. Mercifully, I got it on the sixth row. Threes and fours elsewhere. My ambition is to get my percentage-wins up from 89 to 90 before my 90th birthday. I could set myself to do the arithmetic and figure out how many more wins that would require, but I haven’t done it yet.




Wednesday, January 18, 2023


A good day. A cold one. Helen has proceeded to Kirkmichael despite my misgivings, and emailed me of her successful arrival, as I asked her to. So that’s all right, so far. She’s planning to come back tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever opened the house in winter by myself.


But she has. There was a memorable, cold Christmas holiday when James and I drove up together. Helen was already there. I don’t know where Alexander and my husband were – although the latter was within reach, as you will see before I finish the anecdote.


James was waiting to hear whether he had an Oxford place, so we had to keep stopping at public telephones. When we did that in Blairgowrie – at the one on the High Street, near the Bank of Scotland – we got involved with a drunk woman who wanted to be taken to the cottage hospital along the road. So we did that – they had often seen her before – and then discovered that the cat was no longer in the car. We sought long and hard, but finally had to drive on to Kirkmichael without her, and ring up my husband and tell him we had lost his cat. He loved that cat.


He told us to go back to Blairgowrie the next morning before first light. Helen (who was already there: see above) came with me. James stayed in bed. She took one side of the High Street, I the other, calling kitty, kitty, kitty. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard Helen’s cry of joy. She had found the cat in the Bank of Scotland car park.


That night it snowed and snowed and snowed. We couldn’t have driven to Blairgowrie the next day.


So I hope it doesn’t do that tonight.


I got a bit of knitting d0ne – I have divided the front for the neck shaping, and done the neck shaping, and am now very short of the shoulder on the first side.

And we had a very nice lunch together, C. and I and Joy.


Wordle: Oh, dear, I don’t want to go back to the kitchen and get the iPad to tell you the details. I scored six – not distinguished. It was one of those Wordle specials: I got a green and one or two browns with my starter words. My line three was brilliant – but wrong. It gave me three greens in the middle of the word. In both line four and line five, the picture was grn, grn, grn, grn, ?? In line six, at last, I guessed right.


Thomas also had a six. I remember that. He's very clever, so I felt better. 54][3;']#I think Big Rachel did it in three. I’ll have to confirm that for you tomorrow. I suspect I am doing an injustice to others.



Tuesday, January 17, 2023


It’s cold. Helen has just been here. She’s going to Kirkmichael tomorrow, to see a man about the driveway. I worry about icy roads.


Again, a day of not much. Daniela administered a much-needed bath this morning, and I feel the better for it. She was wearing the hat. I did a bit of knitting. The radio mentioned this morning how soon this year’ Calcutta Cup match will be. Any minute now (=early Feb.). I have no hope of finishing Fergus’ sweater in time, especially at my current leisurely pace. I might as well give up and stop worrying.


I can’t see any difference in the advance of daylight in the mornings. Helen says there is a marked change in the arrival of darkness in the afternoons. And I do at least feel that it isn’t getting darker any more.


C. is coming to lunch tomorrow, along with a friend she met on the first of our cruises together in 2021. C. is very good at friendship. Best of all, she is bringing the lunch. I remember Joy, of course, and it will be good to see her again.


Wordle: I was today’s dunce, with five. Threes and fours elsewhere.

Monday, January 16, 2023


I have very little to report. Some knitting, not much. I cooked the last of the Mindful Chef recipes: not much of a success. Lots of healthy ingredients – beetroot, lentils, spinach, apple, but they didn’t combine into much of anything. Daniella is back, and has brought me some soup which I will have for supper. The hat was well received. I never did photograph it. It's time I got it into the side bar, at least.


Patty Lyons’ book of Knitting Tricks has turned up. I hope to report soon.


A nice man who knows about Japanese clocks came around this morning to see ours, along with Helen who had somehow made his acquaintance. Maybe it was the unusual effort of sociability which has left me weary and depressed.


Wordle:Alexander was today’s star, with two. Big Rachel and Mark got three. Four for everybody else (including me) except Theo, who needed an uncharacteristic five. My starter words gave me a green consonant and a brown vowel. I stuck to my good resolutions, and found a qualifying word (surprisingly difficult) for line three. It turned my initial brown green, and gave me another brown. That was enough.



Sunday, January 15, 2023

 A good, constructive day. C. came and got me, and we went to the early Mass. Then, back here, she did the washing up from Archie’s cooking yesterday (since nobody professional comes in to help on Sundays). Not long after she left, I got to work on the third package in my Mindful Chef order, and finished it, slowly and laboriously. Mindful Chef meals are terribly healthy – lots of veggies, no refined carbohydrates (brown rice, brown pasta, very few white potatoes). And after my lunch, so constituted, and a nap, I did some knitting.


The more significant for being done in the afternoon. Not much was achieved, but I did finish a skein and wind and attach the next one. In recent months, I've knit only in the morning, despite frequent resolutions to do better.


I neglected to mention the other day that I have become one of Franklin’s patrons after all. He’s in the middle of showing us how to knit a crazy quilt. Of but small interest to me, except that Franklin is always interesting. I’m still a Fruity Knitting patron but don’t rush to watch it the way I used to.


Comments, yesterday: Chloe, “The Moon’s a Balloon” (David Niven's autobiography, which Amazon commentators accuse of name-dropping.) It looks good. I’ll bear it in mind for my next read. My father, early in his journalistic career, was a Hollywood reporter, which might enhance it somewhat. The stars all sent him Christmas cards which my mother forwarded to her brother then in college. I doubt if he kept them. He became a lawyer. Much later in life – they lived in Dallas – his wife, our very dear Aunt Louise, was at the lunch which President Kennedy’s motorcade never reached. I hope she kept the menu.


Elizabeth, I’ll have a serious look at Wiltshire Foods. I agree that it’s very useful to have frozen backups. One can’t hobble around the kitchen chopping onions for an hour and a half every day.


Wordle: four today. I felt – continue to feel – terribly guilty about yesterday. When, today, my starters yielded one green and three browns, I struggled only briefly before submitting a Jean-word – that means, one that can’t be right for one reason or another. In this case, it omitted one of the browns. But I was also saying to God – Look! I’m not cheating! As often, it proved very useful: three greens, and I still had that extra brown up my sleeve.


Everybody else found it relatively easy too. Big Rachel and Theo were the stars, with two each. Roger and Ketki were the laggards with five. Threes and fours elsewhere. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

 Light! In fact, rather brighter than before. Helen came yesterday evening with a new bulb, and inserted it. There is something to be said for age and feebleness – namely, in this case, that no one expects you to do it yourself. In a fitting like this one, where the light hangs down from the ceiling, there is the considerable danger – if it’s a bayonet fitting, as it usually is – that you put the new bulb in and climb down and turn it on, and it falls out with predictable results. When I was young, we didn’t have bayonet fittings in the US – at least, I never saw one. Nowadays?


So when Archie came today, that was already done. I set him to work cooking the longest and most complicated of the Mindful Chef meals I had just bought. I sat at the kitchen table barking instructions. It was fun. He did a good job. I had a tasty lunch, and there is enough left over for another meal.


Elizabeth (comment yesterday) I think I’ve seen ads for Wiltshire Farm Foods but have never considered them closely. I’ll look again. For frozen meals, I order from Cook but their offerings are beginning to seem rather same-y. Under Helen’s influence, perhaps, I am getting more and more pescatarian, although I wish there were another word for that kind of eating. I like cooking-from-fresh, and being made to move around the kitchen, although I didn’t do much of that today.

Enid (comment yesterday), Yes! We are remembering the same film. It is somewhat enhanced, I think, by the fact -- I hope it's a fact -- that David Niven was working in Hollywood when the war started, and went home and signed up. Other English actors did not. I must now contrive somehow to see it again. 


No knitting, alas.


Wordle: my starter words this morning gave me two green vowels. I spent a lot of time over it and could think of no possible word – plenty with four letters, a couple of near-misses, but nothing that actually qualified. I grumbled to Archie (not a Wordler) and he looked it up on a wicked website and told me the first letter. It was easy from there. I’m not sure I would have got it, and I am very sorry (although not surprised) to know that there is such a website. Three’s for Alexander, Thomas, and Mark. Four’s elsewhere. I won’t tell you my score because I cheated; I hope I’ll never do that again.

Friday, January 13, 2023

 Archie is coming tomorrow. He wants to earn some money. I’ve warned him about the light in the catalogue room. When he’s done that, he can cook my lunch – I’ve ordered some meal packages again, the first in a long time. I did the first one for myself today. It’s hard work, in my frail and clumsy state, but fun. I am the original of EZ’s Blind Follower, and love being told what to do, step by step, with all the ingredients to hand. The cook still has to provide salt, pepper, oil, implements and pans. I use Mindful Chef because they’re the only ones who provide meals for one (oddly). Nowadays meals for one are so expensive that I suspect I might as well order for two.

 I resumed knitting Fergus’ sweater, and figured out where I was without much difficulty. Still haven’t photographed that hat.

 KD’s latest essay is about Technicolor, and is very interesting indeed. She writes largely about a 1940’s film called “A Matter of Life and Death”. I think I’ve seen it only in its American form, “Stairway to Heaven”, which KD says to avoid. How could I find it? It switches back and forth from colour to black and white, like “Wizard of Oz” but more adventurously. The essay also includes “Tiger in the Smoke” with London wrapped in fog – my very favourite thriller of them all.

 Wordle: most of us scored three today. I’ve rarely seen such unanimity. The exceptions were the two Rachels,  aunt and niece, a.k.a. Big and Little. They both scored five. But then in the afternoon Roger somewhat spoiled the symmetry of the whole with a four.

Thursday, January 12, 2023


And now the last of Thursday’s light. What is to be done about this? The dead light hangs from above, and ceilings are high around here. Maybe the next time Archie is here…


I’ve finished off the loose ends of the hat. Haven’t photographed it. Haven’t knit on.


KD’s Allover club has produced an interesting essay by Janine Bajus, the “Feral Knitter”, on colour choices. The technique of choosing a colour scheme from nature has, however,  already been well-explored by Jamieson and Smith, who regularly post pictures of Shetland along with a choice of their own yarns.


I’ve finished Prince Harry’s book. It’s very sad. The only mild surprise is the one mentioned yesterday, the fondness expressed for his father the King in contrast to the hostility to his brother. There is an interesting article in the Times this morning by one of my favourite columnists (James Marriott) about how the real threat to the Monarchy may be the increasing unwillingness of people born into it to lift and carry the burden throughout life. Like Harry. Despite – slightly to paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan – the guarantee of as much as you want to eat.

Wordle: another five for me, another day when we were spread about everywhere. Big Rachel, Alexander, Thomas and Theo distinguished themselves with three. There’s a comment I want to make about the word, but I’ll have forgotten by tomorrow. My line four was brn, brn, brn, brn, grn. I don’t think that’s ever happened before — a complete anagram. And I think my answer for line four was better than the real answer, but I often think that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Here I am in the catalogue room in the very last of Wednesday afternoon’s light. We’ll see how I get on.


Helen and I repeated yesterday’s little walk, and it didn’t flatten me quite so flat as yesterday. I hope I can get out tomorrow. Here are the promised snowdrops:


No knitting, although I hope for a bit once I give up on daylight. On Helen’s suggestion, I wore the hat for our walk.


I’ve read resolutely on, in Prince Harry’s book. It’s skilfully done, and sends one away feeling very sympathetic towards him. The military, so far, is clearly the best thing that happened to him. I’ve just reached Meghan. That may change my opinion a bit. So far, the tone is affectionate towards his father but frostier towards his brother and sister-in-law and stepmother.


Wordle: Three for me today – self-respect restored. Big Rachel rang up this morning, and at that point she and I congratulated each other on having the only three’s. But then Theo scored a brilliant two, and his father Roger three. Fours and fives elsewhere. Mark (a four) feels that it is an Americocentric word.


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

I’m struggling to write this on the iPad in the kitchen — the overhead light has gone out in the catalogue room where my laptop lives. I had composed a few simple paragraphs there by the light of the computer, but they vanished when I tried to edit and extend them here.

I got out this morning, with C. We got to the garden. 2023 is well underway over there. Snowdrops are blooming, and I saw a gentleman pigeon following a lady pigeon with a gleam in his eye. Here follows a picture of some snowdrops, but that will have to wait until I get back to the laptop. I hadn’t been out for a walk for some weeks. The effort flattened me.

I finished that hat, too. Tomorrow I will deal with the ends and decide what to do about blocking and photograph it for you. And then get back to Fergus’s sweater. The hat fits on my own head, rather snugly. My head is on the large side, as heads go.

And Prince Harry’s book is here, it’s long. It’s not entirely without interest, even though all the plums have already been pulled out, He represents himself as a desperately unhappy adolescent, because of the death of his mother. Was he happy before? He lets Dodi off very lightly; not so Camilla. Although the grown-up author must know, even if the 12-year-old boy didn’t, that Dodi was the last in a considerable sequence of lovers.

I’ll read on, and continue to report. I can’t guarantee to finish.

Wordle: I thot it was tough again. I was pleased to get away with five. Mark needed six. Big Rachel and Ketki joined me with five. Fours all round otherwise, except that today’s star, Alexander, got it in three. Impossible, I would have thot. 

Monday, January 09, 2023

 I didn’t get out – and it’s a pity, because it looked like a nice day out there. But I did knit, and now the hat lacks only three rounds of completion, and those three all in a single colour. Tomorrow should do it.


It was all due to the intervention of Providence. My iPad had failed to charge overnight, despite being plugged in. After breakfast and Wordle = it had enough oomph for that -- I plugged it in again. That time it “took”. But it left me with nothing to do but knit.


Helen came, but instead of walking we did a trivial but essential chore connected with the Income Tax. It’s That Time of Year again. I’m lucky to have her help.


Prince Harry’s book is promised for tomorrow. Surely I won’t have to miss my nap for that?


Wordle: I thot it was a proper stinker today, but I got it in five. We were all over the track: six for Theo and big Rachel; Mark and my brother-in-law Roger were with me on five. Then a bunch of fours. Thomas was the star of the show with three.


Mark says the NYT have taken his stats away and won’t give them back unless he subscribes. Why hasn’t that happened to me? Perhaps it is triggered by one of one’s columns reaching the right-hand margin. My lately-acquired discipline has slowed my fives-column down to the point where, as you know, the fours have overtaken it. Maybe Mark had a more distinguished run of threes or fours. I think when the Times springs that trap on me, I probably will subscribe, but don’t tell them. But it won’t be much fun without the group. We’ll have to put heads together.

Sunday, January 08, 2023


And still no knitting. I think that was among the symptoms of advancing malaise before the first of my recent hospitalisations – that must have been in the declining months of 2021? I could look back at the blog.


Otherwise a pleasant day. I didn’t attempt Mass because I was expecting Amazon. I knew they wouldn’t turn up early, and they didn’t. but the anxiety would have been too much for me. They came about 4 p.m. -- in time to allow a brief nap.


And C. came to see me this morning, We had a particularly pleasant time. Both were struggling with Wordle, and I eventually failed, ending a winning streak of more than a month. It wasn’t an especially exotic word, and everybody else in our little group (C. isn’t a member) scored three or four, as usual, except for Big Rachel who came in with a triumphant two.


Prince Harry’s book to look forward to this week. Amazon says it will be here on Tuesday. It is a very sad story. As we all know – as the King and Prince Harry must of course know – there have been rumours that he is not the King’s son. I gather that these rumours have been largely discounted, but still they can’t be entirely imagined away. I wonder if the book will mention them.



Saturday, January 07, 2023


No knitting again today. I must take myself in hand, urgently.


Continued reading of Alan Bennett: “I still have the absurd notion that, as with any other ailment, age and infirmity will run its course and I will recover from it.” Absolutely. He was nearly a decade younger than I am -- than we are -- now, when he wrote that. 


However, there has been much knitting-related activity. I went with Helen and David to the Chanel-to-Westwood knitting show at the Dovecot Gallery, as mentioned yesterday. It is very interesting, although the hand-knitting and the machine-based jersey designs don’t mesh very well, exhibition-wise. The latter are often sensational. The other thing that doesn’t mesh very well is viewing from a wheelchair. I would have been better to go with my outdoor walker, which provides a seat for sitting on when required (and also a receptacle for one’s sausages, when required, under the seat).


Their next show is going to be Kaffe.


The shop had got in a lot of knitting books for the occasion. I saw a copy of Patty Lyons’ “Knitting Bag of Tricks” and, although I agree that the chosen font is a bit feeble, I found it perfectly readable and look forward keenly to the arrival of my copy. I was also struck with “In the Loop: Knitting Now” by Jessica Hemmings. The one copy at the Dovecot was a bit shopworn. The indifferent girl at the till declined to give us 50p off so I went home and bought it from Amazon for half the price. I will report at greater length about both books when I’ve actually got them.


Wordle: Three’s and four’s again, with myself, again, in the Four camp. Alexander was another four – he had I had identical line three’s: brn, grn, brn, grn, grn. It was just a matter of transposing the two browns. The three’s were Ketki, Mark, Thomas, and Roger.

Friday, January 06, 2023


I would leave the blog unwritten this evening, so inert have I been, except that I want to record Wordle. Tomorrow should be better. Helen and David and I are going to a knitting exhibition at the Dovecot Gallery. I’ve forgotten its nature, but I should be able to tell you tomorrow. Helen says that “Dovecot” in this case is pronounced as spelled; it’s “doocut” elsewhere.


I went on reading Alan Bennett, who continues to be rather depressing. He’s just my age – slightly younger, in fact, but within the year. So when he comments on current affairs, his diary entries might be mine, That doesn’t make them less depressing.


Wordle: Difficult today, although perfectly fair. I was very proud of my four, and nobody did better. My two starters produced two greens, both vowels. Then what? Inspired by your comment, KirstenM, I put in another word. Not a possible winner, because I had to move the green vowels; not one of your interesting suggestions, either, because they all involved too many letters that I had already eliminated. But it worked, in that it gave me two new browns, and from there I solved it. Mark and Thomas and Theo, normally the cleverest, all needed five. Theo’s father Roger scored six. Everybody else four, with me.

Thursday, January 05, 2023


There can rarely have been a day with such a spectacular lack of event to report. Still: Helen and her family are safely back from Cheshire. That’s a comfort. When I go to bed with my mobile telephone on the chair beside me, there’s someone I can phone with it. (I have an alarm system as well.) AND she has spoken to Daniella who says she’ll be back next week. They talk to each other in Greek; I love to listen, uncomprehending..


I didn’t do much hat-knitting today. I have at least embarked on the crown shaping, and employed some dp’s. I didn’t do much of anything today, in fact. . I’m reading Alan Bennett’s “Keep On Keeping On”. He’s amusing, and interesting, and rather depressing.


Wordle: We were all over the place today. My score was an undistinguished five, in which I was joined by Mark and Big Rachel and Thomas. The Americans did better – tour for Theo, three for his father Roger. Ketki and Alexander – who tend to score the same, I think; same starter words? – both came home in three as well. I’m going to risk giving something away: if you find yourself with grn,grn,grn,grn,??, the answer is not the word you think of first, but the other one. Thomas, Big Rachel, Mark and I, and even Roger in his second line, fell into that trap.



Wednesday, January 04, 2023


Thank you for your help with Patty Lyons’ book. I’ve ordered it. It has to come from the USofA apparently, so won’t be here with Amazon’s usual dispatch. I’ll keep you posted.


Another grey day. I need to get out. Warm, though. And the knitting has reached the crown shaping – not long to go.


I spent some time yesterday clicking on dates in the sidebar, more or less at random, and was horrified, in a sense, to see how much I could do eight or ten years ago – looking after my husband in the last months of his life – (that means among other things producing breakfast, lunch, tea and supper daily without fail) --  writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, all while getting a substantial amount of knitting done. No longer.


Wordle: we were all over the place today. My score was an undistinguished five. I was joined there by Thomas, which was some consolation. Alexander scored a brilliant two. Little Rachel failed – she got stuck with ?,grn?,grn,grn and kept guessing wrong, I can’t think of that many words. Everybody else got four.  

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

 I knit very industriously this morning, and am within a cat’s whisker of the crown shaping of that hat – two or three more rounds. Meanwhile Helen and I have started worrying about when/whether Daniela is coming back. Edinburgh schools start up tomorrow. Her elder son surely needs to be here? Her younger one is likely to lose his nursery place? She is at home in Romania to help with the care of her mother-in-law. Clearly, when she left, she would rather have stayed here looking after me. The mother-in-law has lots of other relatives. We can but wait and worry.


What I forgot to mention yesterday is that the winter VK, despite its deficiencies, sent me off in pursuit of Patty Lyons’ new book, “Knitting Bag of Tricks” – illustrated by Franklin Habit, no less. It sounds as if it embodies EZ’s maxim: Look at your knitting. But when I got to Amazon, and started with the one-star recommendations as Archie has taught me to do, I discovered that it is pretty well unreadable because of the wrong type-face on shiny paper. It wasn’t just the one-star reviewers, either. This complaint went right up the chart. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such unanimity. So I didn’t order it. I’d be glad to hear of the experience of any of you who have tried it.


Wordle: not without interest, today. We were three’s and four’s again, and again, I was a four. The three’s were Thomas, Mark, and big Rachel. But what I belatedly discovered today is that it’s not much use entering a name. Wordle will accept it (as it will a plural) – but it won’t be right. My starters gave me three browns and a green this morning. Had I persevered, I might have got it in three.

Monday, January 02, 2023


I was very grateful for your messages yesterday – I’m always afraid, when I drift away like that, that you’ll lose interest and drift away too. But here we are, facing 2013 together. Thanks.


I knit pretty industriously this morning – setting myself repeatedly to finish the round before I allowed myself to drift away to do something more attractive. But I still haven’t quite reached the crown. Tomorrow, surely.


Helen and David and Archie and their dog Farouk looked in, on their way to Cheshire (of cat fame) to see David’s mother. They’ll be back late on Wednesday and then, at last, will take my ailing vacuum cleaner to a Man.


Somewhere in the midst of all this the winter VK has arrived. (It’s called Designer Knitting here.) It’s a stunning disappointment – the issue that should be the best of the year. Thin and dull. Is it about to cease publication again? Norah Gaughan is still listed as editor-in-chief, but I don’t see much sign of her hand here.


Wordle: we were mostly three’s and four’s today. Four for me, it has to be confessed. The three’s were Big Rachel, Theo and Ketki. (Not everybody contributes every day, and the Americans sometimes log in after I have written to you.) Alexander and Ketki’s son Thomas scored five – he’s usually ahead of us all, so it is gratifying to beat him.



Sunday, January 01, 2023


I’ve missed you. I hope you all had a nice time, with lots of food and family and friends; and that 2023 will be kind to us all. I had a good time, but I’m glad it’s over. Here is a picture of my seven great-granddaughters, taken on Christmas day. They are all Big Rachel's granddaughters, and they all had Christmas dinner together.


Knitting has advanced, but I haven’t dashed that hat off as I had hoped. Mary Lou, the Magic Loop has indeed proved to be the solution to the small circumference. Thank you for that. And I’m glad to have learned how to do it. But it’s still not whizzing forward. I’m near the crown, but not there yet.


Sitting across the table from Fergus on Christmas day, it seemed to me that he has broadened in chest and shoulders. No longer the string bean, like his (older) brother Mungo or (younger) cousin Thomas, one or the other of whom may have to be the wearer of the 2012 Calcutta Cup sweater. I must polish off this hat and get back to that problem. Then I want to knit something for the eighth member of the group above, due to join us in April. 


The weather has been dull and grey and often wet, but nothing spectacular. Helen and her family were in Kirkmichael last week where they had a fair amount of snow. I saw her briefly today – we’re ten days past the solstice and she is beginning to share my annual anxiety that whoever is in charge has forgotten to throw the switch.


Wordle: I had a gloomy run of fives, and even a six, at the end of last year, but I started off the New Year this morning with a three. Theo and Mark also scored three; everybody else did it in four.