I haven't been around for a few days - weekend away followed by a lightning strike which took out the computer - so I am feeling a bit out of touch. It looks from comments here and there as though there has been some sort of upheaval which I don't really understand, and don't want to understand either. There are so many people here who seem so fundamentally kind and tolerant of difference that I am sure we can all be accepting of each other. So here is a quick run down of my week.
Friday to Monday
Last weekend younger daughter and her friends took over our house and cottage for a hen weekend. Ian and I absented ourselves by going to see some friends who now live in France. It was a good couple of days, full of too much food and too much drink (but in a good way). Our friend is now early retired having had an extremely demanding and successful career and has taken to serious cooking with focus and determination. When I got home and got on the scales on Tuesday morning I had put on five pounds. They are having a house built. After a few years of renting a beautiful old house in Provence they have decided to take the plunge and to commit themselves to France. So the weekend was full of plans and site visits. They are buying a sloping plot of about two acres full of pines and the sound of cicadas with views away to the mountains. The design is modern and clean but using local materials. It will be stunning.
Tuesday to Thursday
Back home with a bump to reality and a busy week. I was away over Tuesday night, knowing the house was full of washing waiting to be done from the weekend and longing to be sorting out and working in the garden. The hen weekend had been a fabulous success, a just reward for younger daughter's hours and days of planning and hard work. It culminated in a grand dinner on the Saturday night when our old kitchen was decked with pink balloons and fairy lights, white candles and pink flowers. The girls changed into their finery and there were elaborate printed menus. The bride to be sat down beaming. When she picked up her menu and realised that the dinner was to be three courses of spectacular puddings, a childhood dream, she burst into tears!
On Tuesday night while I was away there was a huge storm and an arc of lightning leapt from the phone socket and took out the computer. It made me realise just how used I am to checking the weather, my bank statement, looking something up on Google, reading my emails and reading other people's blogs. I kept getting up from my chair to go the computer and realising there was no point.
We are having one of those periods when all mechanical things are failing. The car has been off the road with two separate problems for about four weeks. Broken cars and computers, a major water leak, Ian very busy at work and me veering madly between working too much (no, no, want to be in the garden and to have time for other things) to working too little (no, no, emails piling up, lists of people to contact, meetings to schedule, paperwork sliding out of control). Our precarious sense of being in control of our complicated lives seems to have slipped away. A frantic scrabbling sense of running to keep up with ourselves and yet still not on top: missed appointments, ironing piles reaching to the ceiling, weeds pushing up in the vegetable beds, slugs and snails turning my borlotti beans to lace. Ian has purposely been making me laugh all week by responding to the rising sense of chaos by humming "Ommm" and schooling his face to calmness.
We know that getting back on top of the practical things will make us feel better (as Grouse so wisely says) so yesterday I cleaned and washed and gardened as if my life depended on it. I even mowed grass, not one of my favourite things. In the evening, feeling a bit more like myself, I met Jo and her family at one of the open gardens near here, an utterly beautiful 17th Century house with a two acre garden. There was much water, a formal rill running calmly through the centre of a flagstoned terrace, a deep well-like formal pond where toads sat on bricks set into the edge or flopped lazily into the water, a larger wilder pond with water lilies and moorhens. The house is for sale, the owners downsizing, but out of our league I am sure.
And today we have done the same push to reinstate order but together this time: washing, ironing , weeding, mowing, planting out yet more tomatoes, potting up geraniums, planting up two big lead planters with dahlias and fuchsia (a bit of a punt this one, it might look awful). It is amazing how a clean house and a weedfree onion bed makes you feel better. I say clean in the loosest of ways, this house is never clean between the cats and the dust and the man eating spiders, but the cushions are shaken and the magazines are in piles. The swallows have stopped swooping and wheeling over the pigsties and soon the light will go and the bats will be out. I am glad to be here.