The Long and the Short of It

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Birdie in the Curtains

It is easy to think that whatever normal you have grown up with is ‘right’ but when you are married to someone who also thinks of their normal as ‘right’ too, well,  you’re bound to end up having a few domestic rumbles at one time or another.  And it’s often over the simplest of things, possibly because those are the things that don’t really come down to an actual ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ but reflect simply different tastes, backgrounds and upbringings.

I grew up with homemade floor length curtains.  My only experience of shop-bought curtains were usually other children’s bedrooms, whether viewed from one side of a window or the other, with bold cartoon characters but with a terrible tendency to be too short and skimpy as well as being way too thin and never lined.  I don’t see the point in having curtains that are virtually too short to cover the window.  I also believe in lining them.  I don’t see the point in having curtains that you can see through.  Especially in this modern world of surrounded by neighbours and street lights.

Husband, whilst he believes in lining curtains, claims that floor length curtains are pretentious.  (There are inferences here which rather echo those of the runcible spoon domestic rumbling).  He feels that they should be long enough to cover the window space but not so long that they hang over a radiator.  (Radiators always seem to be placed below windows; maybe it’s something to do with preventing condensation or something).

We have long curtains in the only two rooms that yet have curtains.  I need to summon my courage and attempt to make the pair for the spare bedroom.  (The duvet cover was only ever meant to be a temporary solution).  So what length should I make them?

There is of course another complication:  we never have the heating on.  So should they be long enough to expose the non-existent central heating or should we go very long and cover up the whole cold window space? (I don’t see any point to draughts either).

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

And the worst is that whatever we do or don’t do, there’s no right or wrong to the issue; just opinions and tastes and backgrounds.  Does it really matter?

Well, yes, because what if they shrink?  I was brought up to believe that curtains must be washed and that they will shrink.  My mother makes her curtains at least two foot too long for this express purpose.  She very kindly made the curtains in our sitting room and I can vouch for the fact that they haven’t really shrunk.  (I was also impressed that they didn’t run when I bunged them in the washing machine; dry clean only black and white curtain fabric was always going to be a challenge.  As a precaution, I put a leftover sample of the fabric in the machine first on a test run and added salt just to be on the safe side.  For some reason, the bird invasion left us with a pressing need to clean the curtains).

So should they be left ridiculously long, just in case, or should they be just touching the floor or should they be just under the windowsill?

Where do your curtains come to and why?

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You’d Never Guess …

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… who has tomatoes still on the vine in November?  And this despite having gone with plants rather than seeds this year too!

November Tomatoes

… whose first pair of hand-knitted socks fit after all?

They Fit

Old News

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We found some old newspapers (parts of two) serving as insulation under the itchy coo in the loft so if you’d care to browse some of the articles making the news back in 1964 and 1956, I have pictures to share with you.

The 1956 paper seems to be a copy of the Dispatch, possibly of the 22nd June.  We’ve only got a few shreds of it.  But it’s still interesting to find a newspaper (or remains of) which is older than our building (this block of flats was built in 1957).  We found complete sheets from the Saturday, July 11 1964 Daily Mirror (a newspaper name which is perhaps more familiar and yes, the date was printed in the American style, you can check below).  The newsagent had written a surname in the top corner so someone must have had a regular order.

The next few posts will probably be knitting-based so my apologies if you’re not the biggest fan of the craft but hopefully I make it interesting for knitters and non-knitters alike; knitting often becomes a metaphor for me to explore and discuss bigger ideas, issues and themes so even if you don’t knit, read along and see, for example, how fear can hold us back and how our hobbies can be barometers of growth and change.

And now for the headlines:

1956 - Non-Stop Flight to Moscow
1956 – Non-Stop Flight to Moscow
1956 - Do You Have a Washing Machine?
1956 – Do You Have a Washing Machine?
1956 - Don't Plunge Good Girls into Evil
1956 – Don’t Plunge Good Girls into Evil
1956 - Keep Girls and Boys Apart
1956 – Keep Girls and Boys Apart
1956 - Celebrity Quotes
1956 – Celebrity Quotes
1956 - Breaking the Laxative Habit
1956 – Breaking the Laxative Habit
1956 - Parrots have Accents
1956 – Parrots have Accents
1956 - Somerset Cricket
1956 – Somerset Cricket
1956 - Cricket: England v Australia
1956 – Cricket: England v Australia
1956 - Vaccination Failure
1956 – Vaccination Failure
1956 - Television's Wheelchair Girl
1956 – Television’s Wheelchair Girl
1956 - The Truth about Rupture
1956 – The Truth about Rupture
1964 - Daily Mirror for 3d
1964 – Daily Mirror for 3d
1964 - Passengers Grounded
1964 – Passengers Grounded
1964 - Frenzy in Beatlepool
1964 – Frenzy in Beatlepool
1964 - Topless Girl on Bus
1964 – Topless Girl on Bus
1964 - Same Sized Columns
1964 – Same Sized Columns
1964 - Almost Round-the-Clock Radio
1964 – Almost Round-the-Clock Radio
1964 - Cat with Puppies
1964 – Cat with Puppies
1964 - Accident on New Forth Bridge
1964 – Accident on New Forth Bridge
1964 - Bullivant Shatters Record
1964 – Bullivant Shatters Record
1964 - Great Mirror Armada
1964 – Great Mirror Armada
1964 - Fishing Column
1964 – Fishing Column
1964 - Rain at Times
1964 – Rain at Times
1964 - Home Movies for 39 Guineas
1964 – Home Movies for 39 Guineas
1964 - Straight Pineapple Juice
1964 – Straight Pineapple Juice
1964 - Hotpoint Twintub
1964 – Hotpoint Twintub
1964 - Felix Catfood (Supermarkets not Available)
1964 – Felix Catfood (Supermarkets not Available)
1964 - Russian Watch
1964 – Russian Watch
1964 - Trend for Exotic Pets
1964 – Trend for Exotic Pets
1964 - The Difficulties of Polygamy
1964 – The Difficulties of Polygamy
1964 - Admitting to Being Lost
1964 – Admitting to Being Lost

What do you think?  Has the world changed in the last fifty years or not?

Three Years and Counting

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Sometimes three years can seem like an awfully long time.  Sometimes you’re not quite sure where those three years went.  Sometimes you just don’t know how you made it through those three years.

It’s been three years since everything went pear-shaped and you know what, I’m going to tell you a little about it.  I know that sometimes it seems like all I do is whinge but I need to get this off my chest.  Bear with me.

Here are some of the jolly little hiccups that have happened during those three years:

Husband lost his job.  Husband got very ill.  Nearly lost husband at one point.

Father died suddenly and prematurely.

In our immediate circle there’s been two marriage breakups (one especially nasty) with all the associated fallout plus various feuds and falling outs which have made life particularly difficult for everyone else.#

An assortment of rumbling family problems.

Lost two dear friends who were like parents to me.

Financial problems due to husband losing his job (naturally in very stressful circumstances) and having to live on benefits (don’t let anyone kid you that this is an easy, comfortable lifestyle).  The threat of losing our home has now been over our heads daily for two and a half years.

Applying for and living on benefits.  Don’t go there.

The boiler has died on at least three separate occasions.  I think in the last three years we’ve probably been without hot water for about half that time.

Unfinished DIY projects due to a painful combination of lack of  finance and motivation and our helper going AWOL.

Another relative, in their teens, dying suddenly and tragically.

I don’t do status symbols but our van was probably the closest thing to one.  Giving it up meant losing freedom, independence and being able to help other people.

My own ongoing health problems.

Hmm, what else.

Well, I think that comes to about 700 something on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale * so that really should do it.  But it’s not just the amount of stress that’s difficult to live with but it’s constancy.  It’s feels like that the carpet is about to pulled out from under your feet, again, the whole time.  You’re on edge.  You can’t plan ahead.  You dread tomorrow.

Stress sucks.

* I’m not a big fan of the stress scale, it’s a moderately useful tool but it does seem a little bit dated especially as there seems to be a very suburban, white, male, 1950s bias to it.  Divorce is a pretty big number two and I have a sneaking suspicion that some people might actually welcome that event in their lives.  Foreclosure is about halfway down a list, presumably because it just never happened back then in that world.  The fact that pregnancy only happens to the other spouse definitely suggests that male bias.  Or shock horror, your wife going out to work.  Other quirks include less arguments with spouse being as stressful as a lot more.  Oh and what happened to things like exams or other tests?   Much less racism, sexism or any other form of bullying.  How about being an immigrant or refugee?  The chart deals with nothing like that.  Besides which, stress like pain is a very subjective experience.  You can’t guarantee that two similar people are feeling the same pain or the same amount of pain due to the same experience.  I’m sure if you read through the list, you’d reorder the thing quite quickly and add a few of your own too.

Death of spouse or child
Divorce
Marital Separation
Detention in jail or other institution
Death of a close family member (eg parent or sibling)
Major personal injury or illness
Marriage
Being fired from work
Marital reconcilitation
Retirement
Major change in health or behaviour of family member
Pregnancy of spouse/partner
Sexual difficulties
Gaining a new family member (e.g. through birth, adoption etc)
Major business readjustment (e.g. merger, reorganisation, etc)
Major change in financial state (e.g. a lot worse off or a lot better off)
Death of a close friend
Changing to a different type of work
Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (e.g. a lot more or less)
Taking on a significant (to you) mortgage
Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan
Major change in responsibility at work (e.g. promotion, transfer, demotion)
Son or daughter leaving home (marriage, college etc)
In-law troubles
Outstanding personal achievement
Partner beginning or ceasing work outside of the home
Beginning or ceasing formal schooling
Major change in living conditions (e.g. new house, renovating)
Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, association etc)
Troubles with the boss
Change in residence
Changing to a new school
Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation
Major change in church or spiritual activities (e.g. a lot more or less than usual)
Major change in social activities (e.g. clubs, dancing, movies etc)
Taking on a small loan (e.g. purchasing car, TV, freezer etc)
Major change in sleeping habits (e.g. a lot more or less)
Major change in number of family get-togethers (e.g. a lot more or less)
Major change in eating habits (e.g. a lot more or less food intake)
Holiday or vacation
Christmas
Minor violations of the law (e.g. traffic or parking infringement)
 www.stresstips.com

Murphy’s Law #4

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I haven’t done one of this for a while.  Here you go:

There is a tendency to write tinned food off as the depths of abysmal as well as plain unhealthy, if not dangerously so.  So yes whilst I’m sure a lot of is rank (any macaroni cheese that looks like it’s in custard not cheese sauce, for example), then I’m also sure that some of it is jolly useful, especially for camping and emergencies like being snowed in and proper poorliness.  And you get vegetables in tins.  And fruit.  Preferably in juice.  Very handy and economical.

Anyway the problem with tins is that you have to get into them.  I don’t particularly like those skimpy wiry openers that seem to be the most common model about, don’t trust them and there’s nothing to get a grip on.  (Taps seem to have gone that way too).  We have a good, solid tinopener with proper handles that you can get your mitts round.

Until it broke.

Naturally we only found out that it had broken, somehow, somewhere along the line, when trying to open a tin of something that we were planning on eating right there and then.  Crisis.

Fortunately we do have two.  Aha!  The other one is with the camping stuff.  Oh.  In the loft.  Oh.  Any volunteers?  Silence.  Surprise, surprise!  Plan B was fish out the penknife from my ‘handbag’ (I use the term loosely) which was swiftly followed by the need for a Plan C to find out how to use the strange appendage which could possibly be the tinopening device.

It’s also very fortunate that Youtube has now been invented and is full of ten year old children wielding penknifes and posting videos of their achievements.  Isn’t the internet great?

But it’s like wine bottles and corkscrews.  The two don’t necessarily cohabit the same universe.  Especially not on picnics, when camping and any other impromptu occasions.  Tinopeners are also likely to be forgotten when camping.  (I’ve never thought to take tinned food on a picnic).

Of course there’s something about having a broken tinopener that suddenly makes you want to eat tinned food all the time.  And there’s definitely nothing quite like having to smash your way into a tin of peaches at midnight with the stabbing motion of a thwarted Neanderthal to make you appreciate the higher technology.