Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Choo-choos and things

This is the hall where we sang on Sunday. There was an audience by the evening, you understand. My photo was taken at the rehearsal. I've sung in it a few times now, starting with school concerts when I was, I suppose, 12. Hmm. Nearly 50 years ago.

I giggled a bit at the variety of comments about my piano wails. Gina may well be right that I should give up, but I want to be able to play the piano. And I can play it to some extent, which is enough to make me feel what it would be like to be better at it. It's just remarkably hard to coordinate the two hands while reading two lines of music and thinking about the dynamics as well. Sometimes I can do it.

But then if I couldn't read words and someone described reading - being able to recognise thousands of words very quickly - I would think that was impossible. And I'm really good at it! I suppose it took me a few years to become fluent and fast.

We took Grandson to the bit of the museum which has trains. He was VERY interested.

Mr Life pointed out the salient features of this engine. Grandson seemed amazed at its size.

There were buttons to press to make wheels go round - handily at Grandson level. Here he is, pressing away.

How lovely to be one and a half, when the world is so full of a number of things and you can assume that everyone adores you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where are those angels when you need them?

There are definite signs of spring (though these are supermarket daffodils, not flowers from my garden, apart from the polyanthus) and I actually did some gardening today: cut back lavender and clematis. I do love lavender. Even at this time of year, the scent of the cuttings reminds me of summer days with bees buzzing and soft air. I also did a little forking of the earth, though this didn't remind me of summer at all; indeed my fingers got cold through my gloves. Still, it's nearly March, which is good.

Unlike my piano playing. I know I probably don't practise enough, but I do practise and I find that:

1. at first I can't play my new tune and then
2. I get better and can sort of play it and then
3. I start getting worse again.

How can this be? It's SO frustrating. I think it's partly because, as I get slightly better, I start to speed up and that makes me get worse again. But anyway, it's really discouraging.

I actually wouldn't mind if angels descended from the sky, took me gently aside and broke the news that I would never be able to play the piano with any reasonable level of ability. I could accept that. Then I could stop the lessons and just occasionally have a wee twiddle to myself. But I keep hoping that I'll improve a bit more, to the extent for example that I don't keep having to work out what the notes are - dash it, I know what the notes are but I keep forgetting, mid-tune - and can reliably play some simple airs without making mistakes.

Anyway, our choir had its concert last night in the Usher Hall. We sang the Verdi Requiem and the Te Deum from Verdi's Four Sacred Songs, both of which are quite difficult in bits but WONDERFUL. It sounded quite good. Unlike my piano playing.

I'm sorry to have added the annoying verification thing but I've been getting spam from people who appear to think I'm organising a wedding or have a dog. No and no. However, the wonderful Thimbleanna has pointed out that you don't have to type the numbers correctly, just the letters - which does make the whole thing less of a palaver. You just type any number (a single one) and as long as the letters are right, it's fine. So wurfle2956 can be wurfle9 or whatever. Isn't that odd, but good?

No Volume 2 yet. Drums fingers... .

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Well, what's been going on around here for the past few days? Not a lot, really, or not much worth reporting. Cassie has adopted the above box as her favourite sleeping place. You wouldn't have thought it was particularly comfy but seemingly it is.

There's been a bit of this sort of thing. Gratifyingly, Grandson is now very keen indeed on books and is pretty chatty, though still in single words apart from such observations as "Hello, teddy".

Now then. When Thimbleanna and Sweetiepie came to visit last August, they very kindly brought with them a cutting board, a rotary cutter and some lovely material. Thimbleanna is a craft genius and when she chose Christmassy material, I'm sure she had in mind that I would do something with it by - well - Christmas. That gave me four months, during which she could have made fifteen quilts, nine pairs of socks and a thousand cupcakes, soldered lots of things together and built a wall. I am made of feebler stuff, however, and have been feeling somewhat wobbly for a while as a result of various life events. I haven't really made the wobbles better by trying to distract myself with piano lessons, a more ambitious choir and Zumba, all of which are enjoyable in their ways but a touch stressful. (Actually, the Zumba is fine. I don't mind being somewhat rubbish at that.)

Anyway, the other day I got her lovely material out, admired it very much and started fiddling about with it. First of all I did this with it (you do realise that no actual sewing was involved here - simply arranging on the floor). (I soon worked out that the floor isn't the ideal work surface.)

But I decided that this was a bit too much colour and pattern together.

So I tried this instead, which I like better, though I can see some changes that I might make in the specific arrangement.

These are the other materials she brought.

They're also very pretty but - one thing at a time. Not that I'm even doing one thing yet. I'm still thinking, which is more restful, if less satisfying, than leaping into action.
This was a few days ago.
Then yesterday...

 ... I went to a quilt show. Which I enjoyed a lot. It was very busy - I hadn't realised that Edinburgh was such a hotbed of quiltmakers (or at least admirers).

But it did make me think...

... how on earth does anyone ever manage to make anything as beautiful and intricate as that? This one, of coneflowers (are they?) in a meadow was probably my favourite. I love the impression of light and the shapes and the colours. But it was a teeny bit discouraging. I imagine myself stitching things together in little squares, which even though very simple will probably tax my sewing machine skills to the utmost.

But still - Volume 2 is due on Monday. We're all looking forward to meeting her then or not too long thereafter. That'll be fun. Currently we're at the stage of jumping every time the phone rings. I wonder what Grandson will make of her?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Daughter 2 did this weekend

Daughter 2 and Sirius had a nice cuddle. He's always cooperative in such activities.

We went out to lunch on Sunday. She decided to see what Grandson would look like as Pope - since there's a vacancy.

First she got his attention by pretending to take on the role herself.

Then she put the napkin / mitre on him. But he didn't cooperate. He looks as if he's crying here but he wasn't - he just firmly removed it.

Later, Mr Life, Daughter 2 and I walked in Dr Neil's Garden by Duddingston Loch.

Then we climbed up the hill for a bit.

 It was a little muddy but gloriously sunny and mild.

We almost made her late for her train but - alas - not quite.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The tube

The family was all here at the weekend, which was lovely. Grandson had fun in his play tunnel.

Daughter-in-Law had a go. She didn't find it too difficult.

Who's coming next?

Challenged by his wife, Son squirmed through. He has quite broad shoulders which almost got him stuck.

Then it started to get a bit silly: the tunnel of love.

The silliness continued. Can you see the doubled legged monster?

Son trapped Grandson in the big tube - but not for long.

But now they're away home, doctoring up north and architecting down south. The house is much tidier. I thought I'd indoctrinated into the offspring that they should stick around - none of this let-them-spread-their-wings business in my parenting - but it doesn't seem to have worked, alas.

Daughter 1 has finished the blanket she's crocheting in these photos, so Volume 2 can come any time now, though ideally not at 3 am.

I'm struck by the extreme rubbishness of these photos compared to the beautiful and artistic shots of raindrops on leaves in some of the blogs I enjoy. Ah well. Raindrops stay still and anyway, I'm blaming my camera.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The boys

Son and Daughter-in-Law returned from London this afternoon and lingered for a cup of tea and a chat with Daughter 1 and Grandson before heading over to Glasgow for an evening forensics course.

They had fun with their nephew.

Grandson's new favourite word is "tac-tah" - those vehicles with big wheels used for ploughing fields, among other things. He just loves anything with wheels.

Only eleven days till Volume 2 is due.  Very exciting. Yesterday I couldn't help buying her a little pair of jeans with flowers appliqued on them. So cute! I wonder what Grandson will think of his little sister? Fortunately, "baby" is one of his words; indeed, he's very keen on pictures of babies and often leads me to my computer so that I can show him lots of baby pictures (of him) on Picasa. Has anyone else noticed that, if you press the space bar when looking at a picture on Picasa, a fountain of white and yellow stars shoots upwards? No? Try it. I have no idea why it happens but it's very popular with a certain small chap round here, who discovered it some weeks ago.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stripy jumper day

Today I went to Marks and Spencer with Granny and Grandpa and advised Grandpa on the purchase of a new shirt and trousers.

Back home, I don't think anyone noticed me making off with the nappy cream.

And I waved it energetically with one hand, making it a blur, while I played the piano with the other.

This is Granny's music. She hopes that one day I'll be better at piano playing than she is. Possibly quite soon... .

Monday, February 11, 2013

All change

As long-time bloggy friends may possibly remember, this was the office building - modern but prize-winning and beautiful inside - where Mr Life worked for some years. It was for sale for a long time and then eventually...

 ... it got demolished.

It was sad to see it being destroyed. That was two years ago. The site was then for sale, but with the economy in the state it's in, remained undeveloped.

 Until this week. This is what it looked like from the main road when the office was there...

 ... and this was it today - dumper trucks were adding to that mini-mountain of earth all day. I hope the wall is strong enough to hold it up. There are going to be flats and town-houses on the site. Maybe this is a good sign for the housing market in Edinburgh.

Back home, I enjoyed my little vase of spring flowers from the garden.

I would be tempted to go out into the garden with my trowel but though sunny, it was chilly today.

Son and Daughter-in-Law have been down in London since Friday, staying with Daughter 2 and Son-in-Law 2. The young doctors sat their very final exam on Saturday, in London. It was a practical exam with "patients" who had pretend, but difficult, illnesses and problems. For example, one "patient" wanted an abortion without telling her husband. How is it that my little boy, who a few days ago (it seems to me) was much like Grandson, playing with toy cars and wearing vests that poppered under his nappy, now has to deal with situations like that? - not only in simulation, either.

And in the same blink of an eye, I've become a wrinkly old lady. Hmm.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A busy afternoon for the Giggling Tomato

 Now, I'll just get my chair...

... and drag it over to the table.

Then I'll stand on it - oh, better get down before that Granny person gets a photo of me standing upright on it with no hands. It might be used in evidence against me in later years to prove what a climby person I was. You know how people go on about what one was like as a baby and one can't defend oneself because one can't remember.

Now, I'll play with the Thimbleanna Express for a while...

... but first I'm going to give Granny a hard stare. Will you please stop following me around with that camera? Thank you. Over and out.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Tra la

Today we had no commitments and it was sunny so we went to the Botanic Gardens. We found some tree stumps on which mirrors had been mounted. They looked strange, like tiny pools of water reflecting the surrounding trees; but rather effective in the bare ground.

We inspected the new, unfinished Alpine house, which is also a bit odd, as if it could take off in the breeze and fly away to Switzerland.

The current Alpine house is just next door... though there are no doors... and as usual at this time of year has a wonderful display of spring flowers.

The colours do good to the winter-frozen heart.

They have a roof but no other shelter because they like it cold but dry.

Aconites: little balls of zing.

Outside in the open there wasn't a lot flowering yet, but these primula are bright against the brown earth.

These are the earliest blooms on one of the first of the rhododendrons. We must remember to come back and visit the bush in a week or two. It'll be glorious.

Snowdrops: not showy but always cheering.

They seem to multiply much better in what I assume is the poor soil under the trees than they do in my garden.

Home again, I admired this amaryllis. People have given me quite a few of these over the years and I can never bear to throw them away after they flower. They're rather unbeautiful when not flowering and the window shelf half way up the stair is crammed with their jungly foliage. I look at them balefully from time to time and feel I should dispose of them but then - whoosh! - one of them becomes a swan. All the normal instructions say you should let them die down after they flower and then take the bulb out of the compost for six weeks or whatever, but I never bother to do this. I just keep watering them and feed them in the summer and they flower every year. True, they're stunning for a couple of weeks and inconvenient for the next fifty. Still, when I look at that photo, I feel it's worth it.