Sunday, April 30, 2023

 The Mileses have gone out for a Chinese, with their son Alistair.


We had another nice day. C. brought me back here after Mass, and she and James had a happy time with family photographs she had brought along. Heterosexuality seems very strange at moments like that – that, although closely related to James, I wasn’t related to any of the people in the pictures. James and C. are first cousins, so they were very much her relatives too. Then we all had a jolly lunch which Cathy had gone up to Marks and Spencer to fetch. Helen was with us, in good form. She has since driven off to Kirkmichael, for yet another confrontation with our neighbour.


I didn’t do more than a few stitches of knitting. I’ve finished the 13th pattern repeat in the centre of the new shawl. One more is required, and then some rows of garter st. The first skein of yarn will clearly be enough. I’m moving forward.


I keep meaning to tell you that I am reading “The Secrets of Wishtide”  by Kate Saunders. Her obituary was in the Times last week. My husband and I sometimes picked up interesting reading books by reading obituaries, and this is another one. It is a representative of genre I particularly dislike – historical detective. But I’m greatly enjoying this one. I’m having a bit of difficulty keeping the characters straight, but that’s where Kindle scores. I can (and do) stop and look them up and refresh my memory.


But the main book news is that I have pre-ordered (at considerable expense) Annemor Sundbo’s “Norway’s Knitted Heritage”. Meg was positively apoplectic with enthusiasm. But – oh! I fear this is so frequent and so sad a story – Amazon proved to be cheaper, and of course the book wouldn’t have to cross the sea and come back again,  I ordered from them. Will I ever knit Norwegian again? Still, it sounds as if this one belongs in my library.


Wordle: I was again among the Dunces of the Day: five – and I needed help from Cathy to achieve that. Thomas and Rachel joined me with that unimpressive score. Fours elsewhere – there were no threes. Cathy isn’t a Wordle-doer. I think she would enjoy it. She fears its too competitive.







Saturday, April 29, 2023


James and Cathy got in all right last night (of course), and we have been having a nice day. They are out, just now, walking about Edinburgh with their son Alistair and his girlfriend Amy.


I’ve even done a certain amount of knitting. Just about to finish off repeat no. 13 (of 14) in the centre of the new shawl.


Thanks for the messages yesterday about Fosamax. The procedure is exactly what I had to do, however many years ago when I was taking my bone-strengthener. First thing in the morning, sitting upright for half an hour. Mary Lou, if you can rejoice that your health problems are mostly confined to your mouth, you must have very good teeth. I read somewhere that the old Chinese suggestion for toothache is to shoot off one of your toes, in the hopes that the pain will be enough worse to distract you.


There’s yet another neighbour-story in this morning’s newspaper, involving a well-known British actor, Martin Clunes. So far they’re not in court – it’s just a matter of planning permission. Neighbours are squatting beside his driveway, and have applied for planning permission to make the squat permanent. Martin Clunes has engaged a barrister. They’re expensive.


Wordle: A relatively easy one today. I scored four, an improvement on recent days. My starters gave me three browns, two vowels and a consonant. I thought of a fully qualifying word for line three (that's essential). It was wrong, but produced three greens, one of them a new consonant. Line four – the right answer – was easy. Rachel, Alexander, Mark and Theo were today’s threes. Fours elsewhere.

Friday, April 28, 2023

 Another grey and chill day.


James and Cathy are due here later on. I am busy worrying about how they will get in. They are both competent, professional people in the prime of life (or at any rate not much beyond). They know the code to the key safe. Or they could ring the doorbell. Or they could ring me up – I keep both a land-line and my mobile phone beside the bed, and I don’t think I sleep very soundly. So there is nothing to worry about. But...


Helen was here this morning. She thinks I am sufficiently lame that I ought to move in with them until I have this famous surgery. It’s a thought, and a noble one on her part. I hope I can stay here. I think she thinks that the surgeon’s scalpel will rejuvenate me. But I’ll still be 90, and recovery will take some time.


Comments: Chloe, I looked up Fosamax. It sounds like something I was once prescribed for osteoporosis, after two broken arms. I eventually stopped taking it when the bones were stronger and it (the drug) was suspected of causing indigestion. That was quite a while ago. And – that’s not me, in the new header. That’s Rachel, with two of her grandchildren.


The story of our house and the neighbours and easements and right-of-access is a long and troubled one. We now have a permanent heritable servitude (I love that phrase) across the edge of their field. It cost us blood, sweat and tears and a lot of money. BUT they have planted leylandii in a strip of land  next to it, and just beyond that is a ditch which needs to be cleared every two or three years if it is not to flood the driveway. These are inconveniences which can be endured when the house is occupied only occasionally; not if Helen and David are to live there.


No, Mary Lou, it’s not money. Helen and David long ago offered to buy the strip of land containing the wretched trees and the ditch beyond them. Which is well out of sight of their house, because the land rises beyond, and of no use to anybody. The Troublesome Neighbour (in his 70’s) is the only boy in a substantial family of girls. (We have been neighbours for a long, long time.) He was/is severely dyslexic, so writing emails full of sweet reasonableness doesn’t cut much mustard. Helen’s husband David is himself a lawyer, although rustic disputes about driveways are not his speciality.


And, hey – knitting went well today. I have finished a pattern repeat (12? – I’m not going to hobble through to the sitting room to check) in the centre of the new shawl, and made good progress with the next one.


Wordle: Six for me. I’m not having a good month Theo and Roger (the DC contingent) also struggled: five for both. Thomas and Mark scored three. Four elsewhere.




Thursday, April 27, 2023


Another grey, chill day.


And an uncomfortable one. My hip gave me a bad night. My sister and my daughter—we might call them Big Helen and Little Helen – both warn me that things might get much worse suddenly, when the hip collapses. My sister is a doctor. My daughter says she heard this from one of the orthopaedic surgeons we consulted, although I don’t remember it. But the thought has made me miserable all day, after the restless night. I made myself a Mindful Chef lunch. That involves tottering around the kitchen a good deal, which I usually regard as healthy exercise.  But today it made me wonder if I was hastening disaster. My sister says that my condition – osteo-necrosis – is very unusual. That’s a boost, anyway.


Not much knitting, either. I struck a bad patch last night, after I wrote to you, and again, sensibly, laid it aside until this morning. Everything is straightened out now – but the trouble was that something was wrong in the pattern row before the one I was knitting last night, and I certainly wasn’t going back to fix that. Kirsten, thank you for your comment (yesterday). That’s absolutely it. I’ve done half a pattern repeat today, and will attempt a bit more (cautiously) later on.

Helen was here this morning. She says that my plan won't work -- of making a driveway out through the sheep field (see yesterday) -- because there is too steep a gradient at the far end, and because there is a length of track, between our field and the public road, which probably belongs to the neighbours. You can see why disputes like this so often appear in the newspapers, and why lawyers are so prosperous. 


Wordle: Another five for me. Alexander had one too, but he was being a bit silly with his line 4. Mark and Thomas did it in three. Fours elsewhere.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

 A bit warmer today. It was a better day in general. I was feeling sorry for myself because no comments had shown up, as they usually do, in the Social section of my emails. But I went and looked at the blog itself just now, and there they are. I am very grateful. They mean a lot to me.


The knitting is fine, I think. I put in two successive plain-vanilla knit rows, to balance the two successive pattern rows mistakenly knit yesterday. Never mind the galloping horse: I don’t think I could find them myself, on foot. There is something to be said for garter stitch. I’ve now finished 11 of the 14 pattern repeats for the centre of this shawl. And I am now pretty sure that this first ball of yarn will be enough to finish the centre. I’ll then switch to one of the slightly brighter skeins for the borders.


Grandson Joe sent me this picture of his mother Rachel with his son my great-grandson Freddie, in his shawl.


Comments yesterday: Southern Gal, it might just be possible to make a new driveway across a field of sheep which has the merit of being a field we own. I’ll see what Helen thinks of the idea. It’s all the fault of the lawyer who acted for us when we bought Burnside in 1963, the year Helen was born. He should have made sure we had iron-clad access.


Chloe, I think the NHS is in a bad way – it’s not just me and my hip. I also think that the private surgeon I consulted so expensively recently, may have moved me up the waiting list by several months, by attaching my name to his. (He also works for the NHS.) And I further think that falling and breaking a hip and having emergency surgery (like Dame Edna) is probably more dangerous than a scheduled operation. The private surgeon warned us that when that happens, it’s more often than not the good hip that gets broken.


Wordle: Mary Lou (comment Monday): you mentioned getting four with a word you didn’t think was a real word. Was that DITTO? If so, Archie was here that day and he looked it up on his telephone and it goes back to Venice in whatever century it was (sixteenth?) when they were launching the idea of  printing. That doesn’t make it an English word, of course.


I was today’s dunce, with five. Mark was the star, with two. Threes and fours elsewhere. I had four browns from my two starter words, and moved too fast on the vital line three. I typed in what I soon saw was a Jean-word: one of the browns hadn’t changed position, and so the word couldn’t be right. I might have scored four had I been more cautious.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


Cold again -- I put the heating on. And a sort of eventful and depressing day. Not least the prospect of next year’s presidential election being a re=run of 2020. Well, perhaps that is the least of my woes, but still depressing. I’ve already got a tee-shirt saying “None of the above” which must be from 2016. It’s hard to see what else CafePress can come up with for next year.


Helen is making no progress with our wretched neighbours over the problem of access to our house in Kirkmichael, and it distresses her, reasonably enough. She wants to live there.


And I have knit two successive pattern rows into the centre of my shawl. I think I am going to try knitting two successive knit rows, to keep the row-count right. Ii’s garter stitch – even I could scarcely have omitted a whole wrong-side row if it were st st.


Thank you for your comments yesterday about my hip. I hope, when my number comes up, that we’ll start with another consultation and not plunge directly into blood counts. Helen thinks the man we saw privately said that the hip might sort of collapse into considerable pain. I don’t remember that, but it is obviously a consideration, if so. It is getting worse – slowly. It's uncomfortable but not terribly painful. I take paracetemol at night. If I lost mobility altogether, I could get a self-propelled wheelchair since we’re all on one level and have generous doorways. I haven’t got much life left, at my age, and begrudge giving some of that little over to terror and (assuming all goes well) convalescence, just so that I can walk across to Drummond Place Garden. But it would, on the other hand, be nice to be able to do that, and to cook.


Wordle: Never such a day! I was very glad to scrape home with a six. Rachel, Ketki, and Alexander all failed! The stars were Mark, with a four, and Theo, with a five. No news from Roger yet. Thomas scored six, like me. Every single one of us, except Theo – the failures and the scrapers-home alike --  got stuck with ???, grn, ???, grn, grn. There were simply too many possible words.





Monday, April 24, 2023

 It’s cold. Now that I’ve stopped putting the heat on when I get up in the morning, I have managed not to start again. But I may not be able to resist much longer if it goes on like this.


Life is back in full swing. TGIM has long been my battle-cry. The Japanese clock man is back at work in the dining room. Archie came, in between shifts (he is acting as companion and support to autistic men), and we cooked a Mindful Chef lunch, me chopping, he stirring. It’s fun. I hope I can do it again with my sister when she and Roger are here at the end of June.


And I’m back on track with the knitting, after yesterday’s lapse. I should finish the ninth repeat (of fourteen) this evening, in the centre of the new baby shawl.


Archie and I talked a bit about hip surgery. I fear it as I do death itself, and he had some interesting observations to make. The conversation in itself was helpful. Helen rang the hospital this morning, and I seem to have moved up the list. It might be as soon as July.


Wordle: Four for me today. My starters gave me three browns, and I very quickly thought of a qualifying word, despite my aversion to anagrams – but it was wrong. All it did was turn one of the browns, green. I got the answer not much later, after a bit of a struggle. I was the first to post, and for a while it looked as if everybody was going to get four today which would have been rather fun. But poor Thomas needed five and Theo, blast him, posted a three

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Grey and chilly. Shakespeare’s birthday, and my father’s.


Every Sunday, these days, I wake up feeling that Mass-going is too much for me, and every Sunday, so far, I have managed to get dressed and brush my hair, and C has come early and managed all the rest, and I have hugely enjoyed the outing. We had an interesting sermon this morning, too, about predestination.


I have spent the rest of the day in blissful idleness. Perhaps a bit of knitting this evening?


Ella Gordon has written a message? blog entry? which starts off pleasantly enough about puffins – they are smaller than I thought, according to her – but goes on to say that a huge windfarm is-being installed in the centre of the Shetland mainland. We have a small one on the hills between Kirkmichael and Alyth (if you drive over the hills instead of going around by the road). Small, in that the windmills are relatively few in number. Each one is huge and I find them terrifying. Like “North by Northwest”. It is dreadful to think of Shetland being covered with such things.


My great-grandson is named Freddie Robert Edward Ogden. “Edward” of course is Rachel’s husband’s name, and since Freddie is almost certain to be the only one to carry the Ogden name forward another generation, it’s nice that he’s named Edward, too.


Wordle: I had a tough time this morning, and scraped home with six. I was the first one to post, of our little group, and was just about to add a note to my grid saying that I thought it was a toughie, when Mark logged in with a three. So I kept silent. Not everybody did as well as Mark. Roger, Alexander and Ketki needed five. Theo was another three. There were fours elsewhere. I couldn’t think of a qualifying word for the vital line three – I had a green vowel, and two browns, from my starters – so I gave up and entered a Jean-word. That’s always a mistake.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

 Gloomy news: Dame Edna Everage has died from complications arising from a hip replacement. He was just my age, too. I don’t suppose the newspapers will tell me what went wrong. I don’t suppose it matters. The operation was the result of a fall.


A grey, chill day.


Knitting continues to move forward nicely. I’ve finished the eighth pattern repeat for the centre of my new shawl. Fourteen are required. I think I should manage some more this evening. It stubbornly refuses to get much easier.


I’ve found “Brideshead”, and largely re-read it. It is one of my desert island books, the other being “Il Gattopardo”. I also located “Black Mischief” in another pile, so the Waugh shelf is somewhat replenished.


Wordle: I got KAYAK in time. My little winning streak is intact. I agree with you about the trickiness of repeated consonants (comments yesterday). I wish I could remember the progress of yesterday’s struggle. My two starters gave me only a brown A. I found a legitimate word for line three. It added a brown Y. At some point during the morning Rachel rang up to tell me about her new grandson. She had already solved it, and she said something which, when compared with her successful grid, told me that the A was in second place. (Cheating?) My word for the fourth line gave me AY green in slots two and three. I wish I could remember that word – it may have been a Jean-word, that is, not a possible answer. That’s where I was when I wrote to you yesterday. When I went back to it again, despite nap-less-ness, the answer was easy. It always seems easy, once you've got it. 


Four for me today. We were all threes and fours on this side of the pond: Alexander and Ketki were the threes.  The USofA fared less well: five for both Theo and Roger.

Friday, April 21, 2023

 It’s been a nice day out there, not involving me. A man has been here working on our Japanese clock. He thinks he can get it to work. I wish my husband could be here to see it happen. But it has meant my not having a nap, and I am weary. Daniella’s husband is soon to come to give us an estimate for restoring the shower in the room we call the Downstairs Lavatory (although everything, in fact, is on one level). Then I must try to eat something, and then I can go to bed.


Rachel rang up this morning. She has met her grandson and says he is very masculine-looking. Joe and Becca really did manage not to know his sex before he was born, something of an achievement these days, and fully expected a girl since that’s what babies are, in their experience.  So he really doesn’t have a name. Rachel told me his girl-name, which I have forgotten. He hasn’t got his Calcutta Cup shawl yet.


I got a fair amount of knitting done today, what with all this non-napping. I’ve passed the halfway point for the centre square of the new shawl. I am still finding it extremely difficult. I went back to it after blog-writing yesterday evening but soon found myself struggling with a mistake and (sensibly) left the problem to be solved this morning. All has gone well today. Why is it so hard? It’s only a 12-stitch repeat.


Wordle: I haven’t solved it. I’ve got two green vowels. I’ve used four lines. I’ve got several hours left, but I doubt if much is possible in my nap-less state. Alexander and Mark scored three, Thomas four, Ketki and Theo and Rachel five. Roger, like me, hasn’t posted anything yet. Mark and Ketki lept from one brown (in his case) and from two (in hers) to the right answer. As far as I am concerned at the moment, there is no word in the language which has my two vowels in those positions, and doesn’t use any of the useful consonants I have eliminated.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

 It’s a boy!


My grandson Joe rang up at lunchtime. I’ve got seven great-granddaughters, and now I’ve got a great-grandson too.  Joe claims not to know his name yet, although some preliminary thought must have been given to this question. But all is well. It was a Caesarian, as I told you a few days ago. Becca was tucking into lunch, her husband said. This is the baby for whom the Calcutta Cup shawl was destined. I hope we’ll have a picture soon of him wrapped in it.


There is little else to report, inevitably. Helen came early today, and bustled me out of the house. But, as I keep saying, I’ve lost ground lately. I got down the six steps (tremendous effort) and then could only sit there for awhile on my walking machine while Helen put in some nasturtium seeds. We then walked a few steps and admired plants in the areas of the nearest neighbours. I suppose that’s better than not making the effort.


And the knitting progresses. I have now finished six repeats of the lace pattern in the centre of the current shawl. Fourteen are required, and I mean to do some more this evening. It’s much easier to do so, now that the light is back. So I should pass the halfway point tomorrow. That feels like progress. That, indeed, is progress.


Wordle: an easy three today, making my threes and fours equal. Everybody else had a fairly easy ride as well: fours for Thomas, Ketki, and Theo. Alexander and Mark shared my three. The stars were Rachel and Roger, with two.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

 Another pleasant day. Again I didn’t get out. I was going to quote for you a sentence about Lord Marchmain – he didn’t get out either, during his last summer. But the Book Thief has taken even Brideshead Revisited from its place on the shelf.


Knitting continues well. I’ve now finished five of the necessary fourteen pattern repeats in the centre square of the current shawl. I think maybe I’ve devised a better way for myself of thinking about the pattern as I knit it – but for today, I still couldn’t listen to anything (audiobook, podcast). I needed all my diminishing powers to be concentrated on those ssk’s and k2togs.


Comments: Matthew, thank you for your thanks – but that very useful mnemonic “I’ll be right back, I left the front door open” comes from Stephen West, I think in a Craftsy class. He deserves all the credit. My only other piece of knitting lore – the very useful fact that the stitch the needle enters first winds up on top, in any decrease – comes from Margaret Stove, verbatim.


Wordle: four today, maddening, because that puts fours ahead of threes in the new scheme the NYT reduced me to when it stripped me of my statistics. I thought I had it: the first four letters were green, but I had to try again for Letter Number Five. Roger, Theo, Ketki and Mark fell into the same trap, although Roger and Ketki got there by a more leisurely route and scored five. Rachel was today’s star with three. Fours elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

 A pleasant, sunny afternoon. I’ve almost given up hope of getting out. April is a tough month to miss. Soon, however, it will be warm enough to sit out, at least, even though I can't walk. 


However, life is back to normal. Daniella was here and I had my Tuesday bath. David is back in Thessaloniki. Helen dropped by.


And I got a fair amount of knitting done. The dreaded mistake has happened. I’m not quite sure what it consisted of – perhaps substituting yo, ssk, yo, ssk for k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo across half of a row. That puts holes in the wrong places but doesn’t disturb the tessellation and I think it’ll just scape by when the galloping horse test is applied. I didn’t discover it until the following pattern row, and certainly wasn’t going to tink back.


Chloe, you’re right about entertainment while knitting. When my husband was alive, we watched a lot of television and I got a lot of knitting done. Now I listen to podcasts sometimes, and watch Fruity knitting as you suggest, and knit much less. But I think I could do more with audio books. Amazon says that I have potential free ones stored up for myself in heaven. When I was several decades younger, the majority of audio books seemed to be based on abbreviated texts, of which I disapproved. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more. Why don’t I start with Cloud Atlas? I have begun reading it: so far, so good.


Mary Lou, you’re right (as so often) about Malabrigo colours. I think I just took the first one out of the package and started in. Two of the three others seem substantially more vernal. I think the one I have started with, will do most if not all of the centre. Switching for the borders should be painless. I could switch again for the edging.


Wordle: I need to figure out how to post grids here. Ketki’s is a thing of beauty today: five blanks in line one, five greens in line two. I had an easy three – my starter words did it for me. Rachel, Thomas and Roger were the other threes. Alexander and his friend Mark needed four. Poor Theo got stuck with one of those first-letter-could-be-anything situations and scored six. One of my starters had given me the first letter.

Monday, April 17, 2023

 I’ve survived my second consecutive day without Daniela. She should be back tomorrow. Helen and David came this morning and did some useful things, washing dishes and putting the rubbish out. They were on their way to the airport, alas, because David was on his way back to Thessaloniki.


I got some knitting done. I’ve now finished two repeats of the centre-square lace pattern on my new shawl. It’s a 12-row pattern, to be repeated 14 times, I think. It’s really only a six-row pattern, offset for the following six rows. It’s awfully easy, dangerously so, but so far so good. I’m getting fonder and fonder of the yarn. I’ll take a picture for you the next time the sun shines. My object in life, at the moment, is to finish a pattern repeat per day. A modest objective.


I’ve finished The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It’s very short. Beth, I’ll make a note to look for Cloud Atlas.


Wordle: Lots of fours today, including mine – but then Alexander and Theo logged in with threes. Alexander thinks that Mark and I (and you, Mary Lou) got six yesterday for the look of the numbers. It was Wordle No. 666, and our scores were 6/6.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

 It has been a grey day: peerless April temporarily submerged. C. and I got to Mass. (=C. got me to Mass.) It’s getting harder every week, but she’s good at it. Then Helen and David came and planted my doorstep.  No knitting. I hope for some this evening. My purchases yesterday rather ran towards vegetables. I must order some pelargoniums (=geraniums) in an emphatic red. I also bought some nasturtium seeds. I’ll be fine if they succeed.


Daniela won’t be here tomorrow. She’s celebrating the Orthodox Easter. I miss her already. My life hinges on Daniela.


There was a note in the parish newsletter this morning to say that the Book Group was about to embark on The Bridge of San Luis Rey. That should be interesting for them theologically. C. doesn’t know it, and I was astonished when I tried to get it for her to find that Amazon, at least, doesn’t have a Penguin Classic edition or something similar. There has been a movie – I didn’t know that – and there were plenty of DVD’s available, and audible versions, and notes for students. I even found a Kindle edition for 50p which I am very happily re-reading myself. Do read it if you haven’t. Or even if, like me, you have. Thornton Wilder.


Wordle: I had a terrible time this morning, and finally slid home with a six, and glad to get it. Mark fared as ill. The usual fours predominated elsewhere, except that Rachel needed five and Ketki had a distinguished three.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

 It has been another peerless April day. David and Helen and I had a grand time at the garden centre (Hopetoun) –an abundance of cheerful, healthy plants and helpful, friendly staff. One of those days when you can’t help believing that everything, this year, is going to grow and prosper and so you might as well spend too much on it. David and Helen are going to come back tomorrow and plant up my doorstep.


My hip is undoubtedly worse. I wonder if I will ever get across to the garden again under my own power. The discomfort is not too bad, when I'm sitting down. Bed rest is increasingly uncomfortable. 


I’ve knit a bit more. The shawl I have embarked on is, in layout, like the hap: a centre square, four trapezoidal borders, a lacy edging. We start with the centre again, only this time it has a simple lace pattern whereas the hap had pure garter stitch. The yarn really is splendid in its quiet way. I wouldn’t be surprised if I forgave it in the end for being brown.


I read the Times and the Telegraph. Both have printed articles about President Biden in recent days more hostile than anything you’ve read here.


Wordle: threes and fours today. I was a four. Theo was the only outlier, with five.

Friday, April 14, 2023

 Everybody has gone away. I’ve had a wonderful time. I’ve met all sorts of great-granddaughters, and they’re all delightful. And they have met their third cousins, Hamish (above) and Quinn. It’s not often you meet a third cousin.


And we remembered to unpin the Shetland hap this morning and send it off to London. Joe’s wife Becca is going to have a scheduled Caesarean, any minute now, because she had a terrible time with her first labour which ended with an emergency one. So Rachel knows the Probable Date of Birth, but she wasn’t telling us.


And the Malabrigo sock yarn called Primavera has arrived, and I’ve embarked on the next shawl. It’s wonderful yarn, with many colours splendidly blended in, BUT the overall effect is a darkish brown, not vernal at all. There’s nothing to be done about it – the yarn was too expensive for even me to neglect. I’ve started. The pattern asks for largish needles; the ball band specifies something much smaller. I’ve started off with the needle I’ve just been using for the Shetland hap, which is halfway in between,  and am more than satisfied with the fabric I’m getting. Size doesn’t matter unless it turns out handkerchief-small or curtain-large, and it won’t.


Helen and David and I are going to a garden centre tomorrow to buy plants for the doorstep. This morning they got me out, and pushed me around the garden in my wheelchair – I am that much diminished. Spring has made all sorts of advances since I was last there. We harvested some wild garlic. And, goodness! isn’t April wonderful!


Anonymous: “frot” is written like that to save me the tedium of typing “fraught”, as I’m sure you guessed. I shudder to think what Google thinks it means.


Wordle: what I wanted to tell you – and I have remembered – is that when you have a U in a suitable place, or floating loose, it’s always worth trying a Q with it. I think it was Theo who failed on the day we had QUALM recently. He had the green U in the second position, but never tried Q. Alexander wasn’t entirely satisfied with that word, on the grounds that one never has a single QUALM.


Today we were mostly threes and fours. I was one of the threes. Alexander and Ketki were the fours. Mark blew us all out of the water with his two.


Tuesday, April 11, 2023


A frot afternoon. A nap is (alas) impossible, so here I am.


Amazon has delivered a package (cider). DHL has delivered a package (yarn for the next shawl). I haven’t opened it yet. Mindful Chef is still to come, with four meals. And a friend from the Cathedral who brings me the sacrament and we read a chapter from the bible together – currently Paul to the Colossians. And, of course, Rachel and Ed. Gin and tonic ready and chilled.


The Colossians, I gather, lived somewhere in central Turkey, but nobody has done any serious archaeology there. So says Google.


Wordle Four for me today, We started with a nice run of fours: Ketki, Rachel, me and Mark. But then Alexander and Thomas logged in with threes. We haven’t heard from America yet.


Today’s word brings up an important Jean Rule for Wordle Solving. I’ll try to remember to explain it to you tomorrow.


Since I started writing this, the friend from the Cathedral has turned up. That leaves Mindful Chef and Rachel and Ed. Maybe I can doze for half an hour in my chair.



Monday, April 10, 2023


A pleasant day, but chilly.


Daniella (and I, to some extent) got on fine with the blocking. She particularly enjoyed the bit where she wrapped the shawl in a towel and stamped on it on the kitchen floor. We’ve pinned it out in my husband’s study, a glorious room, sadly underused, but at the moment furnished with big tables so that Helen can make mosaics in there. Perfect. When I was young and adroit, and Perdita a bit o a kitten, she used to like to assist the process by pulling out the pins. I used to be terrified that she would swallow one and die in agony. The job is finished for now, and the door firmly shut.


I’ve sized up Fergus’ Calcutta Cup sweater, and determined where I am in the pattern (I hope), but haven’t actually knit any more of it yet.


Rachel and Ed will be here on a late afternoon train tomorrow. You may not hear from me for the rest of the week. I’ll do my best.


Wordle: Clever of you to figure out yesterday’s word, Gretchen, without even playing the game. Maybe you'd enjoy doing it? Perhaps Cam gave it away yesterday by saying that it began life as an acronym? Mark never did get it and remains cross. Today we had a perfectly ordinary, instantly forgettable word. Another three for me – also for Mark, Alexander, and Theo. Ketki struggled – she got stuck wth ???, ???, grn, grn, grn and only slid home with six. Fours elsewhere.


Sunday, April 09, 2023

Helen rang up from Kirkmichael this morning, so we were able to exchange the traditional greeting – I’m not going to cast it into the Greek alphabet; too lazy. “Christos anesti” to which the reply is “Aleethos anesti”. (“Christ is risen” “He is risen indeed”) Jesus himself would have understood it, I reflected at some point. He presumably spoke Aramaic to his family and mates, but Greek was the overall language – it must have been used in his conversations with Pilate.


Don’t miss Jenny’s comment yesterday, with link. It is a marvellous example of the difficulties of oral transmission. It must be 50 years ago, give or take a few, when somebody local to Kirkmichael told me that primula denticulata were known as (what I heard as) “curry dumplings”. I think I have always vaguely assumed that it was a corruption of “current dumplings”. Whatever they might be. Whether or no, all our  children have grown up calling them that. But Jenny’s link demonstrates pretty conclusively, I think, that it’s really “Kirrie” dumplings, from Kirriemuir.


We’ve had a bonny Easter, not even very cold. Tamar (comment yesterday), I don’t think your daffodil could have bloomed and fallen in the cold, unless American daffodils are very unlike the locals. Somebody must have picked it. I have always observed that when cold weather –even very cold weather – overtakes daffodils at any stage, they just pull their overcoats up around their ears and wait it out, and go on growing and flowering when the weather improves. Edinburgh was full of them as we drove to Mass this morning.


MetroRebecca (another comment, yesterday): I’m pretty sure you’re right, that a superstition about green will have derived from the one-time toxicity of the dye. That was the sort of information which Kate Davies included in the interesting on-line essays with her recent “Allover” patterns, but omitted, alas, from the subsequent book.


Well, we got to Mass, as mentioned above. Otherwise things have been pretty quiet. I dealt with the last of the ends on the Calcutta Cup shawl. I’m ready for the off, tomorrow morning. I will have to watch the proceedings very closely at the beginning, so that Daniella resists the temptation of wringing water out of the shawl. She will be able to squeeze it pretty effectively, she’s strong, and then my procedure is to wrap it in a towel and stamp on it. And then do that again, with another towel. And then proceed to the pinning. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Wordle: this was an interesting one indeed. I scored the only three, somewhat restoring self-esteem after yesterday’s failure. Ketki and Roger and Rachel had five. It’s a funny word, not of Latin origin, surely an American word. (Big hint; I’m sorry.) But Alexander and his son Thomas got it in four – they’re not American. I think C. said she had a four as well. She’s also not American. Ketki sort-of is, so we can’t count her. But Rachel and Mark, two of our cleverest, got completely stuck this morning, and posted messages of despair to our Signal group before going off to celebrate Easter. Rachel has reappeared to post her five, claiming she only got it because there were no other letters left. (I’ve had that experience, although I can’t remember when.) I hope I’ll have news from Mark for you tomorrow, but there’s nothing yet.


But don’t forget: I got three. 

Saturday, April 08, 2023


It’s been another pleasant-looking day out there. If the weather holds, Rachel will have to get me out next week, even if she has to push me over to the garden in the wheelchair while Ed follows with my outdoor walker. I need to know how our wild garlic patch is getting on.


The knitting of the hap shawl is finished:


I’m very pleased with it, the more so because it’s all from stash.


I’m glad to have an extra day for the ends. It’s almost as bad as a Fair Isle or a Kaffe. Most of the trouble is moth-based, but there are a not inconsiderable number of colour changes too. I’ve done about 2/3rds, and have warned Daniela about what lies in store for us on Monday.


And ordered some Malabrigo sock yarn. No hope for stash here – my sock yarns are all too exciting for a baby. The choice was briefly difficult – no blue, in case the baby is a girl and feels unwanted. No pink, in case it’s a boy who feels his masculinity challenged. No green, because I once shared a flat with an Irish girl who told me that it was unlucky to knit green for a baby. I settled on a shade called Primavera with which I am delighted. (La Primavera, quando Flora da fiori adorna il mondo. I read that in a footnote to something art-historical once.)


Helen sent me this picture of the curry dumplings outside our door in Kirkmichael. They are really  primula denticulata I think.


Wordle: I failed, ending a winning streak of 31. Rachel and Ketki and Mark had five, so at least they didn’t find it entirely easy. Theo was today’s star, with three. Fours elsewhere.





Friday, April 07, 2023

 Good Friday – it has weighed heavily on me this year (as no doubt it should). I don’t remember being so troubled before. Grand weather, although a bit cold.


There’s still one scallop to do on the Shetland shawl. I would hope to polish it off this evening. We’ll have a pic tomorrow. I’ll explain blocking to Daniella tomorrow, and we can tackle the job on Monday. I can see a day looming when I don’t have any knitting – that was careless. I’ll have to resurrect Fergus’ sweater. That will be good for it and good for me.


I’ve thought a lot about a shawl for Lizzie and Dan’s baby. Maybe a fancy-schmancy Amedro is not a good idea. My thots:


1)     My powers are diminishing. I might not be able to achieve fancy-schmancy.

2)     I would really prefer to knit something more useful, for carrying a small person about in an under-heated house and serving as an aid to modesty while breast-feeding.

3)     I think Elizabeth Lovick’s “Easy Baby Shawl” in her book “Shetland Lace Shawls” might do nicely – fancy enough to show that I tried, not so fancy that it’s likely to bog me down.

4)     And Malabrigo sock yarn might do nicely, too – pure wool, but machine washable. And a baby shawl wouldn’t have to be washed terribly often.

I’ll think about this overnight, and maybe order yarn tomorrow.


Daniella and I looked at all the books on that lower shelf (see yesterday) this morning. No Amedro. And I should have two copies. There are too many missing books around here – the Knitter’s Almanac should be on an upper shelf in that same bookcase, but it’s not there. I had been thinking about it, and contemplating the possibility of knitting the Pi Shawl – I’ve never done it. And I can’t find my beloved copy of Horace’s Odes, either – I’ve had it since my freshman year at Oberlin. It should never be anywhere but on the chair beside my bed, but it’s not there.


Wordle: Something of a struggle, again. For line 3, all I could think of was a Latin word. I didn’t expect Wordle to accept it, but it did. And, like many a Jean-word before, it was very useful. So, four for me. The early posters were all fours likewise – Rachel, Thomas, and Mark. But then Alexander and Ketki spoiled things with threes. Roger was another three, his son Theo another four.

Thursday, April 06, 2023


Another pleasant day, weather-wise. Helen has embarked on a strenuous move of boys and dog to Kirkmichael, then halfway back, to Perth, to teach mosaic-making, then the rest of the way back, to fetch David from the airport. Or something like that. I was invited to join them, but preferred a quiet (and warm) Easter with Mass-going and C.


I knit three scallops today – there are three to go. That means I need the next knitting PDQ, for Lizzie’s baby’s shawl (another great-grandchild). One of my problems is that I’d like to have a look at Amedro’s “Shetland Lace”, and it is, or ought to be, on a bottom shelf. I know it would be unwise to get down there to have a look myself. Is Daniella’s English up to searching for me? Maybe I’ll just have to take something from Jamieson and Smith’s generous offerings. One of the problems of arthritic old age which the books don’t mention.


The great thing about Amedro, as I remember her, is that she isn’t afraid of st st. Her square shawls are often, I think, knit round and round regardless. I’m certainly not going to embark on long purl rounds in lace-weight. I could always, of course, knit a shawl in st st even if the designer says not to.


But before all that, I have the blocking problem to solve for my current knitting. It’s going to be an exciting weekend.


There’s a nice picture about somewhere in cyber-space of an imam leading Ramadan prayers with a cat on his shoulder. Today I happened upon a brief clip – posted by Larry the Downing Street cat – of the cat climbing up the imam and taking its place there. They were clearly familiar with each other, and fond.


Wordle: A real toughie today. I was lucky not to break my winning streak. I was the class dunce, with six.  Alexander, Thomas, Theo and Roger all needed five. The star was not Mark, for once – he got four – but my daughter Rachel, with three. Ketki also had four. I think that’s everybody – Granddaughter Rachel seems to have dropped out.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023


Another very pleasant day – but not much knitting.


Helen and I did out care-home visiting. It was perfectly suitable. We put my name on a waiting list (clearly Edinburgh was ready for expensive care homes). But it didn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm.


However, Helen has come up with an idea which might well serve. She and David are planning to make Burnside, in Kirkmichael, their forever home (as cat-adoption websites have it). Alterations will have to be made, beginning with a suitable and water-tight agreement with the neighbours about access. Why don’t they move in here in the meantime?


I’ve certainly got lots of excess space. Helen proposes to leave me my sitting room (with stash cupboard off) and bedroom – they are adjacent, with a connecting door – and take over the rest. She would want to make some changes. She’s brilliant at that. And meanwhile here I would be with my knitting and my cats and someone to shout to at night. It’s certainly a thought, and so far no one has thought of a drawback.  Helen is a great one for taking life by the scruff of the neck, so it might happen.


Meanwhile Mungo and Fergus came to (and cooked) lunch. Mungo had just heard that he has got a scholarship to spend a year in Cairo perfecting his spoken Arabic. He thinks he might like to proceed from there to Georgetown for an advanced degree. So that’s exciting. Americans (me) and his half-American cousins cry out to him to beware the IRS, but he is young and has no money yet and isn't worried. 


In the midst of all this I have knit one (1) scallop. I might or might not get a second one done this evening. So the prospects for completion of the Shetland shawl have to be moved back a day.

KayT: thank you for your gentle reproof (comment yesterday) about my hostility to President Biden. I couldn't explain it, and I'll make things worse if I try. Truman, Reagan, and of course Obama are the presidents I have genuinely liked, in my adult life. Reagan once said to someone when a crisis was impending, "If ?????? happens, wake me up, even if I'm at a cabinet meeting." You've got to love that man.


Wordle: Four for me today. After line three I had ???, ???, grn, grn, grn. A very tempting knitting-related word suggested itself, but it would have been a Jean-word as one of the necessary letters had already been eliminated. I persevered, and got my four. We were spread out, today. There was no other four (could that be right?). Roger, Theo, Ketki, and Rachel needed five. Thomas, Alexander, and Mark skated home with three.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

 It has been another quite pleasant-looking day out there. Again, I stayed in. But Helen came to see me, safely home from Greece. Her husband David will follow on Thursday, and they will all decamp to Strathardle for Easter.


Knitting went well. I did my final scallop yesterday evening, and am in the same position today: one to go. When I achieve it, I’ll be halfway along the fourth (and final) side of the shawl.


Archie’s younger brothers Mungo and Fergus are coming to see me tomorrow, to cook a Mindful Chef package (somewhat augmented) for our lunch. That will be fun. Mungo read Arabic at Oxford and is employed in London in some way that makes use of that language. Fergus is coming up to his last few weeks at Bristol University. I gather the ordeal of Final Exams is not what it was in my day. Archie can’t come tomorrow because his job assisting and supporting autistic people involves a shift at an inconvenient time.


Helen and I are going to visit a care home tomorrow morning, somewhat closer and slightly cheaper than the one where I spent a tranquil fortnight last May. We are trying to set up a family conference ( me, Helen, Rachel, Ketki) in Easter week, to discuss My Future.


Biden: Lynda kindly sent me a link to an article in the Washington Post about Biden’s non-appearance at the Coronation, “hewing to precedent”. It was interesting to read about it with an American slant. What a curious situation it is: America rich and powerful and deeply divided, stuck in the 18th century. Britain impoverished and diminished, trying to move into the 21st. Whatever Biden’s reasons for staying away, it still seems to me a most unfortunate coincidence that he is able to prance about a part of the King’s realm only a couple of weeks beforehand. I was glad to learn that Clinton will be part of the Good Friday Agreement party.


Wordle: my starters served me well today. I had an easy three. Alexander and Theo were the other threes. Roger was the only five. Fours elsewhere.

Monday, April 03, 2023


A lovely sunny day. But I didn’t go out. I feel I am slipping down, notch by notch.


However, Daniella is back, That’s unmitigated good news. And Helen soon will be, insh’Allah. Her youngest son Fergus has recently got his driving license. He’ll go out to the airport to fetch her this evening. We’re going to visit a care home on Wednesday.


Knitting has progressed reasonably well, but I still have one more scallop to do, to finish today’s task. I am confident that I can. Today was much given over to waiting in for packages and then snatching a brief, late nap.


Biden: Anonymous (comment yesterday): “feebleness” wasn’t my idea. Apparently it has been suggested by someone – someone sympathetic – in Washington that two trips to Europe in quick succession would be too taxing for the President. Alas, I have forgotten to whom that opinion was ascribed. And alas, he is both Head of State, as such clearly due at the Coronation, and an Irish-loving politician. I continue to think that my solution (see yesterday) would solve the problem. I think Clinton had some idea of how the Northern Ireland Loyalist community felt about Irish-loving presidents, and kept himself in the background. Maybe I flatter him. He sent over the excellent General Mitchell to chair the negotiations, who began by insisting that all the major participants eat lunch together every day. Clinton would do fine as a presidential stand-in for the anniversary. Biden, indeed, is likely to irritate the Protestants further, and their cooperation is still needed. 


Wordle: I scored three today, but WordleBot was unimpressed. My starters gave me three browns, two vowels and a consonant. As always, my struggle was to think of any word for the next line which fully qualified.  Apparently (according to WordleBot) there were lots of other possibilities so it was just luck that I hit on the right one. Rachel and Thomas did as well. Roger and Theo were the outliers with five. Four elsewhere. The NYT has stripped Mark of his statistics, as they did me.



Sunday, April 02, 2023


Sunny but chill today. We got to Mass. (=C. got me to Mass.) The hip is deteriorating, I think. It was even more of a struggle than in the past, but she’s good at it.


Knitting went well. I’m still one scallop short of the third corner, but may polish it off tonight. If I can keep up a steady production of four a day, I’ll finish on Thursday. I will need a peaceful day to tidy away the loose ends – not only stripes, but moths. That will still leave plenty of time for blocking.


Helen sent me this picture from Thessaloniki. It’s called “Waiting Outside the Taverna”. I suspect the majority are all one litter, perhaps with their mother, but we’ll never know.


What I meant to say yesterday, and it’s just as well I didn’t because I would have lost it, is that I gravely disapprove of Biden’s decision (not absolutely definite yet) to stay away from the Coronation. He’s going to Ireland sometime this month to celebrate the quarter-century of the Good Friday Agreement. The Coronation is in early May. Apparently coming over twice would be too much for his increasing feebleness. But Clinton could do the Good Friday Agreement – he presumably won’t be invited to the Coronation, and he was very instrumental indeed in the making of the Agreement. And then Biden, if he’s so keen on Ireland, could nip over there for as long as he liked after the Coronation. He wouldn’t have to wait around here for the street parties. I hope he’ll change his mind. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime decision, and once you stay away from something your empty seat gets remembered forever. It’s no use saying that Eisenhower didn’t turn up in ’53. The world was different then; travel was harder and much less ordinary..


Wordle: I disgraced myself with a six today. At least not a failure. My starters gave me three browns. I turned them nicely in line three into grn, grn, grn, ???, ???.  And with that configuration I remained for lines four and five. No Jean-words, either. All genuine suggestions.


Not everyone was so dense: Ketki and her son Thomas, Roger and his son Theo – all had threes. So did my daughter Rachel. Alexander struggled like me, but did slightly better – five. Mark blew us all out of the water again with a two. If he weren’t a pillar of the British legal establishment, I would wonder sometimes if he didn’t peek at one of those websites that tell you the answer.


You’ll remember that the NYT set my statistics anew when I subscribed recently. I’m happy to report that I had no failures in March – the most recent was FIFTY  on February 25. My current winning streak is 26 as far as the Times is concerned – obviously it’s better in real life.  My best streak in the old days was fifty-something so I’ve got a way to go.