Friday, June 30, 2023

 Here I still am in the Western Infirmary. Release has pretty well been promised for tomorrow. Food will be welcome. My appetite has improved but hospital food hasn’t. The trouble I remember from Cramond is undressed salads, but I have packed a little bottle of salad dressing.

Another thing that has been packed is my knitting. It is time to get started again. I think there’s still time.

The woman in the next bed asked to be taken out for a cigarette, and the first nurse she asked was going to do it. From Respiratory! But wiser councils prevailed. People are extraordinary.

Cats continue as before. Perdita is relaxed and cheerful. Archie was here yesterday and says he is not going to let her go back to Drummond Place where she is bullied and miserable. Poor Paradox would seem to be as sad as ever. I wonder if they are talking to her enough. She’s eating, though.

Wordle: we came closer than ever to a one-score day. We all had fours except Ketki, with five. The trick was four greens and you had to guess the final letter.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

 I have high hopes of escaping to Cramond tomorrow., but uncertainties remain. I’m sure they can look after me there, and I very much hope they can restore some muscle strength. A month ago I could stand up from sitting and walk about the house with my Zimmer frame and dress myself in the morning and put myself to bed at night. I’m depending on Cramond to restore some.of that. It seems miles away.

Perdita is having a splendid time. She has been let out of her Starter Room and joined the family, and has even been for a walk in the garden.Paradox remains miserable. She is eating, but remains in hiding in her room.

I suspect you are right, Anonymous (comment yesterday), that she knows she is unloved and somewhat unwelcome. Whatever her faults, she’s not stupid. My fear is that if they ever do let her out, she’ll pack her furry bags and disappear forever.

 Wordle: Thomas and his mother Ketki both scored four today. Mark needed six, five for Alexander and Rachel. I hoped for several hours that my three would be the best score of the day. But Theo blew me out of the water with two.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

 Well, here I still am in the Western Infirmary being treated for an “atypical pneumonia.” I think I am getting slightly better. Hospital food is a severe test, but I think appetite is improving.

Wafa, alas, has left for her next job. I’ll ring the agency and try to get her back once I can see my future more clearly.

Perdita has gone to Helen in Portobello. She seems to be utterly relaxed and happy (to get away from her sister?). Paradox has gone with Alexander to Loch Fyne. She is miserable, and anxious, and not yet eating., and I am worried about her.

Wordle: an easy one to report. Everybody got three today except me and Ketki. Four for us.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Yes. Here we are. I have to type with one finger on the iPad and it’s tedious. I am indeed in hospital. Well spotted, Shandy. The cats are provided with expensive live-in care (Wafa). They will leave for  their various destinations on Saturday. Wafa will leave for her next assignment on Monday. I will have to stay here until they let me go, while my (even more expensive) accommodation at Cramond sits unused.

I have been poked and prodded, bled and scanned for several days now. They think I have an “atypical pneumonia”, and want to be sure it is responding to an atypical antibiotic before they let me go. I think I am ready for a respiratory ward. Also I have got a catheter and am receiving oxygen — I will have to be weaned of both. We are assuming the hip operation will be cancelled. From my present position, pinned down by tubes and wires,, my previous state is remembered with affection.

I am in an Assessment Ward. I am now the longest-serving inhabitant by some measure. It has been fun working out other people’s diagnoses. We have got an alcoholic who drinks about what I do per day, if she is to be believed, but I know that doctors regularly calculate a fixed proportion in addition. We have also had a fascinating late-middle-aged anorexic,not far from death I would say.

Wordle:a straightforward one today. Threes for me and Ketki and Theo. We had all been provided with the  opening letter by our various starters.  The rest got stuck in a Wordle special with too many possibilities. No fours. Fives for all the others (Thomas, Alexander, Rachel, Mark)

But the big excitement was KAZOO on Monday while I was being taken into hospital. I could never have got it. The perfect day.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

 We called NHS 111 this morning. Two doctors — seems like overkill — came promptly and after much discussion have prescribed another antibiotic. There is a new lung infection. They hope it”s bacterial and not viral. If I’m not better on Monday I must ring my GP. I should have done that yesterday, they said.

And I will have to ring orthopaedics and tell them, since they weren’t keen on the news that I had had a course of Amoxicillin recently. This one is called Doxycycline and lasts only a week.

I think I’m somewhat better this evening but it’s hard to say.

The big news is that Perdita slept on Wafa’s bed last night. They’re really friends.

Archie came to see me at lunchtime, and Alexander and Ketki not much later. I tried to persuade them to take their cat (Paradox) back with them to Loch Fyne, but they would prefer to make the long journey again next week. They’re not looking forward to having her and would prefer the time to be as short as possible. Maybe she will endear herself.

I tried to buy No Country for Old Men Men for my Kindle app but it doesn’t seem to be available. I think I’ve got a paperback somewhere around here, but have no idea where.

Wordle: Tantalising close to my hoped-for day when we all get the same score — but no. Theo and Mark broke the mould with fours. All the rest scored three.

Friday, June 16, 2023

 Not very good, health-wise. I am very grateful indeed for your thoughtful suggestions about eating, many of which I mean to employ. Wafa thinks maybe I sat out in the sun too long on Wednesday. Could be. I’ll certainly avoid such a move again until this weather breaks.

Helen came to lunch and ate great quantities of Wafa’s delicious Middle Eastern food with visible enthusiasm. I was glad because I am doing so badly by it. Also Perdita has found a friend in Wafa and slept in her room last night although not (yet) on the bed. My poor Perdita needs a friend. 

A letter from the hospital, instead of saying as feared that I’m not fit for surgery, says that I have been moved up to July 4, a date an American is not likely to forget. 

Wordle: we all had an easy time of it today. Ketki, Alexander, Roger and I were the threes. The rest scored two (!) except for poor Mark, who limped home with four. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

 All went well at the hospital. Lots and lots of questions. A few tests. I think we have to go back for another one before the operation. There seemed to be no question of not doing it. Given the state of misery I’m in, it’s worth the risk, they said. The surgeon will be the man I consulted privately (who declined to operate and said to wait for the NHS). I think he edged me up the queue.

I got home in a state of near-collapse in which I remain. I’ll go back to bed in a moment. Perhaps I’ll have Wafa bring me some toast. I am trying to consume a tub of cottage cheese from the expensive hospital M&S. 

Wordle: five for me. I was in a pretty strung-up state this morning — couldn’t finish my breakfast. That never happens. So maybe that’s why. Ketki also had five. Fours from Thomas and Theo and Mark. Three from Alexander. A most uncharacteristic silence from Rachel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


It’s really hot. I sat for a while on the front step today. It’s something of a sun-trap, on the rare days when the sun shines in Edinburgh, and today much hotter than indoors. My nasturtiums are visibly flourishing, but flowerless. Wafa re-potted the mint. She is a vegetable-grower as well as a cooking-from-scratcher.


My appetite continues very low (except for my invariable breakfast – wilted spinach with a poached egg on top). But this afternoon I thought of something I could eat, and ate it. It was corn-on-the-cob, which came in the grocery order this week. From Spain. Terrible. I was brought up to plant the corn uphill from the kitchen door, and to get the water boiling before I went out to pick it. I can’t even say that this stuff had the ghost of the required flavour. The texture, however, wasn’t too bad, and I ate the whole cob with generous butter. That’s better than I’ve done for days.


I have my pre-operation session at the Royal Infirmary tomorrow, as mentioned yesterday. Helen will take me, and Wafa will stay here with Helen’s dog, and even take him for a walk in the gardens. Everybody’s happy. It said on the radio this morning that junior hospital doctors in Scotland will strike for three days next month, one of them being the day on which my operation is scheduled. Presumably they will postpone non-urgent surgery? It gives us something to talk about tomorrow. Junior hospital doctors are on strike in England at the moment.


Wordle: four, for me. My ush. It was a Wordle-special. On line three, I had four greens with only the first letter to guess, and I guessed wrong. Of the others, only Theo did as badly. Alexander, Ketki, Rachel and Mark all scored three, and Thomas eclipsed us all with a two.



Tuesday, June 13, 2023


We continue to do well, and the weather continues brilliant. I have had a less than sparking day. You may be right about alcohol deprivation, Shandy. Wafa doesn’t approve of frozen ready-meals, of which I have a freezer drawerful after last week’s order to Cook. So tonight we are having an interesting-looking Yemini sauce with rice and crab meat. I’m not sure that I’m not looking forward a bit to Cramond’s institutional British food, including undressed salads consisting of lettuce, cucumber, and tomato. I’ll take my own sauce along this time.


Knitting has progressed somewhat. I’ve finished the three-row plain garter stitch band between the border patterning and the finishing rows, and have embarked on the first of the latter. It consists of a simple 6-stitch pattern, repeated endlessly. I’ve done the first two borders and they came out right. I doubt if I’ll do any more this evening.


My pre-op assessment is scheduled for Thursday morning. I thought Wafa and I could do it on our own, and free Helen up for a whole half-day. (The Royal Infirmary is a long way away, to begin with.) My sister was justifiably concerned about how much of Helen’s time I was occupying. But she has decided to come along anyway – a considerable relief.

Here is a picture of some great-grandchildren that Rachel sent me this morning. The baby is Freddy Ogden, the first boy in a crowd of girl cousins. That's Rachel with them, but you can't see much of her.

Wordle: I scored three today, my first three in a while. Pure luck, according to WordleBot. Thomas joined me with that score. The others had more trouble. Four for Ketki, Alexander, and Theo; five for Roger; six for the mighty Mark Anderson. It can happen to anyone.

Monday, June 12, 2023


My new carer promises well. She is nothing if not interesting. She is an asylum-seeker (who has been granted asylum) from Oman or some such place, a non-practising dentist. I am her first paid job in Britain. She lives in Cumberland because that is where the British sent her. She has never been to Edinburgh before, nor presumably Scotland. She speaks remarkably good English. She has a tendency to put loose papers into piles but I can live with that.


I‘m hard at work on calories. Wafa is in the kitchen this very moment making me a salad for supper. I’m feeling somewhat better. Kirsten (comment yesterday) I’m very grateful for your suggestion of A Room with a View and even more for the suggestion that I may still be suffering from the after-effects of that antibiotic. At the moment I am trying to read Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy. He’s good, and the tatters of my education still cling to the subject. We shall see.


Wordle: yet another four, and it was again a popular score. Theo, Alexander, Rachel and Ketki joined me there. Clever Mark got three, Thomas five, Roger six.


One of my principles for Wordle-solving – perhaps the only one I’ve got – is to try Q whenever I find myself with a floating U. Yesterday my starters gave me a green A in the middle position, and a brown U and R. So I tried QUARK, without much idea of what it means. Wrong, but it gave me green UAR in the middle, and from there to GUARD wasn’t too difficult, given the letters available. Those were the two words which WordleBot told me afterwards were the only two possible from my starting position.

Sunday, June 11, 2023


I’ve been listening to the French Open Tennis while I knit – so the essential border pattern is finished, plus one and a bit of the subsequent plain rows, and Dkokovic has won more Grand Slams than anybody, and the French crowd was very unruly compared to Wimbledon.


I got up in good time this morning, got dressed and fed the cats, and then decided I wasn’t strong enough for Mass. There are lots of calories in cider, and on top of that, a glass with a meal helps it go down. I don’t think I ate enough yesterday. I have been conscientiously ingesting calories today (with more to come, I hope) and feel a bit better but I wonder if this recent chest infection doesn’t mark another step on the downward path.


There is little else to report. Helen recently brought me “The Enchanted April” to read, by Elizabeth von Arnim. I enjoyed it, but am now adrift again.


Wordle: I scored four today. So did almost everybody else. Roger and Alexander needed five.


I signed up for the NYT recently, so as to read WordleBot’s verdict on my play. It’s not very interesting, usually, and they took away my stats and started again, about which I wasn’t pleased. But it was sort of interesting today. My starters gave me a green vowel and two browns, a vowel and a consonant. I struggled mightily, as often, to think of anything for line three. I finally found something – a weird word, and wrong, but it turned all three tiles green and it wasn’t too hard to find the answer from there. WordleBot said that after my starters, only those two words were possible.



Saturday, June 10, 2023


Another beautiful day. Helen was here for a scratch lunch, and has now gone to Kirkmichael. Her youngest son Fergus is about to celebrate his 21st birthday there – with a marquee and a caterer.


I knit the next pattern row, and am absolutely determined to finish the subsequent plain-vanilla row before I go to bed. That will leave one more pattern row in the main body of the borders, followed by three plain-vanillas, followed by the end bit, eight or ten closely patterned rows with no plain-vanillas in between. I ought to be able to do it in the fortnight before Cramond.


Kirsten, good apple juice is indeed worth considering as a cider-substitute. I’ll have a look, the next time I’m putting in a grocery order. Waitrose sell a rather good low-alcohol cider, but I doubt if my advisors would approve. I usually drink bitter lemon when I can’t have cider. Presumably my new carer will cook. I’m rather looking forward to that. I hope it’s an activity she actively enjoys. The idea is that she will work four or five hours a day, and be here at night.


Wordle: I scored a peaceful four this morning, along with most of the others. Alexander and Thomas were the clever ones, with three. My sister’s problem (anonymous, Thursday) is not competitiveness per se, but (she says) the fear that I would beat her. There was no persuading her that some days I would, and some days she would beat me, and some days (probably most) we’d be equal, and anyway it didn’t matter.


Yesterday was BALSA. It was the day I had often feared, while engaged in a Wordle struggle: a word I didn’t know. I got it in six. By then I had ???ALSA, and I had eliminated SALSA. It was a matter of picking something pronounceable from the remaining letters and keeping fingers crossed. My winning streak now stands at 59 and I would have been sorry indeed to spoil it.

Friday, June 09, 2023


It has been a day of some achievement. Helen came here this morning and we paid the Care at Home organisation for the initial fortnight, and sent them a computerised signature. We were using an account that I don’t ordinarily use and it involved Helen running up and down the passage to the telephone a lot, authenticating things. But it’s done. The carer will arrive Monday lunchtime. I’ve even ordered some frozen meals from Cook for us. I have been forced by solicitous relatives to give up my beloved cider until some indefinite time after surgery, and I miss it, I must say.


And I did two more rows of knitting, as well. It would be nice if I could finish the borders before I go to Cramond, leaving only the peaceful edging. 


Wordle: I was very relieved to scrape home with a six this morning – my winning streak thus preserved. There was a good spread of scores, but nobody else had that much trouble. I will try to remember the circumstances to tell you tomorrow. Mark was today’s star, with the only three. Four for Roger (safely back in DC, I hope), Alexander and Ketki. Five for Thomas, Rachel and Theo.


Thursday, June 08, 2023


Roger and Helen should by now be airborne on their way to Iceland – I won’t attempt to spell Reykjavik -- where they change planes; thence direct to DC.


Nothing much has happened on all our activity-fronts. A man came from Cramond to take down details which I think haven’t changed all that much since I was there last year. That’s mildly encouraging. They can take me to the hip operation (mid-July) which is good news as I have to be there at 7:30 a.m. and Helen has carried a heavy load lately. We have had some details and a photograph of the live-in care which will start on Monday here, but that means little or nothing until we meet. I am hopeful. The Downstairs Lavatory remains as yesterday. It is a long journey along to the other one for a daytime pee.


And I did some knitting! Two long rows. Another might be possible this evening, but I often say that and rarely achieve it. My object in life must be to finish the borders and embark on the edging before I go to Cramond at the end of this month. I finished a ball of yarn this morning, and spent quite a bit of knitting time winding the next one. 100 grams sock yarn – by no means negligible.


Wordle: my sister won’t play it, for fear of competitiveness. I think she’d enjoy. I think it’s a remarkably uncompetitive game – we all win, every day. But she is not to be persuaded, despite the participation of her husband and son.  Our mother was a word-game fan – I suspect she would have loved it.


We were all threes and fours today – I was in the latter group. The threes were Mark, Rachel and Thomas. For once it was a straight-up-and-down word about which I have no grumbles.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

I have indeed felt much better since the last amoxicillin went down. Today is the last one of my sister’s visit. We are sitting about at the moment, in relatively clean clothes, about to go out to supper at a favourite local restaurant, L’Escargot Bleu. Helen and Archie will join us.

All sorts of things have been happening. Cramond has room for me at the end of the month, and I am booked in from the 25th. I’ll miss my cats. I have been persuaded rather against my better judgement to employ live-in care for the interim, starting on Monday. It will be a comfort to have someone here at night, certainly. AND we heard from the NHS this morning that the hip operation has been scheduled for a date in July, with a preliminary assessment session any moment now.

I’ve knit a row and a bit, not enough to count.

Wordle: a bit of a stinker again today. Stinkers have been coming thick and fast lately. Thomas, Ketki, Theo and I scored four, and nobody did better. Nobody failed, though: five for Alexander, Rachel, and Mark; six for Roger. I deeply disapprove of Monday’s ENNUI l though I got that one, too, in four.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

 The weather continues glorious. My sister and her husband are here. Helen is not very well.  Daniella’s father-in-law is dying of cancer. Everybody thinks I should go into Cramond as soon as they’ll have me. Paradox is to go to the shores of Loch Fyne. Will I ever see her again? No arrangements have yet been made for the nasturtiums.


Perdita will go to Helen. I will be able to be taken to visit her on any hypothesis much short of death.


That pretty well covers the news. I’ve got two more amoxicillin to take. Then I hope to feel sprightlier. We’re all meant to go out to supper on Wednesday.


Helen, despite infirmity, made us a tasty salad lunch today. Her husband David is here from Thessaloniki. We had a nice social time.


Still no knitting.


Wordle: Today was a Wordle special: ???, grn, grn, grn, grn – with lots of possibilities. I scored four, along with Thomas. Rachel and Ketki needed five. Theo and his father Roger distinguished themselves with threes, but were pipped at the post by Mark with a two. So where is Alexander?

Friday, June 02, 2023


It has been another glorious day. I sat out on the step for a while, drinking in vitamin D through my grateful pores. I’ve got three more days – until Monday morning – of amoxicillin. I have no guarantee that I’ll feel better when it stops, although your comment yesterday, Kirsten, greatly encourages.


I’ve seen Helen briefly and from a distance. She seemed better than I expected. She is dealing with one of our problems: the question of whether mould in the neighbours’ little bathroom below our Downstairs Lavatory (which is not downstairs at all) – is somehow our fault. However, that is relatively trivial compared to the problem which reared its head only this morning: Daniela’s father-in-law is ill, and she is going home to Romania ON TUESDAY to help out FOR A MONTH. It has been proposed that I go to Cramond (the fancy nursing home where I spent a happy fortnight this time last year) so that they could take care of me and administer pre-operative physiotherapy, assuming I may have a hip operation in July. And do my hair and generally spruce me up.


It would make some sense. But what about my nasturtiums? and my cats? Helen absolutely refuses to take Paradox. I can’t leave her here on her own for a month or more. I can’t take her with me. I can’t turn her out into the street.


I’m making good headway with The Towers of Trebizond, but it is not quite as I remembered. More geography and history and theology, less story.


My sister and her husband are due here tomorrow. Tonight, they are with Alexander and Ketki on Loch Fyne.


Wordle: My starters served me well today, and  I scored an easy three. We were pretty evenly divided between threes and fours. My fellow-threes were Ketki, Mark and Thomas..

Thursday, June 01, 2023


Helen is safely home. She feels she needs a day of not doing anything, but for today she had to battle on, and of course didn't attempt to come here. . London is hard work, she says. Meanwhile, although I think my chest is better, I’m still very droopy and there has been no knitting. Three more days of amoxicillin – I’m sure I’ll feel better when it’s finished. Then I’ll have to work at re-charging the microbiome. A nurse came from our GP practice today and took some bloods. She was very good at it. I will hear directly from the doctor if there is anything to cause concern.


I hope, as you say, Mary Lou, that my sister will be able to provide penetrating advice on the whole range of my problems, from the current chest infection through hip replacement and on up through life-style choices. Should I stay here? Go into care? Look for a live-in carer (Alexander’s vote)? I will be able to do very little to support her and Roger, but if I lodge a grocery order to be delivered on Sunday morning, I could add to it on Saturday evening after they arrive.


I’m reading The Towers of Trebizond, as you know. It’s good. I looked up Trebizond on Wikipedia this morning, but it wasn’t much help. There were lots of serious facts, but Rose Macaulay takes you there.


Wordle: Have we ever had such a stinker? I scraped home with a six, and was very grateful for it. It brought my new winning streak up to 50, and would have been one I would have been particularly sorry to lose.  Roger! Rachel! and Mark! all failed. The universal pattern was ???, grn. ???, ???, grn. I had no companions with my six: those who didn’t fail,  scored five.