Today is rather stressful! Grandad is not on good form, probably exhausted from all of his UTI induced antics yesterday. Now he is at the opposite end of the scale, it is difficult for him to get out of the chair, walk along, or even move in the bed. His bowel problems are off the scale and I am quite worried about him. It takes much longer than usual to get him up and ready for the day and it is a relief for both of us to get him safely settled in his chair with some breakfast. It is now an anxious time waiting to see if the antibiotics make a difference. Today is one of those days when every time I head for the garden I am called back to help with random things from helping with CV’s to talking to the hospital about Jean’s imminent discharge from hospital to a nursing home where she will receive 24hr care. At one point, I manage to get as far as the lettuce beds with my tray of young lettuces and then it rains. I then get distracted by the melons ‘reportedly’ growing in the cold frames. I say ‘reportedly’ because they have disappeared in a sea of weeds. My poor melon plants were not doing very well and then the longest heatwave since 1961 struck. I decided to leave the weeds in the frame to give the melon plants some cover from the sun which would probably have incinerated them! In the last few days of welcome, repeated rain showers, the weeds have put on a massive growth spurt and the melons have disappeared! I feebly hunt around in the frame, pulling out a few weeds hunting for the melons and discover some surviving plants which look healthier than before. I will need to remove all of the weeds and add in my new melon plants that I have grown in the tunnel…it then starts to rain again.
This time when I come inside Aideen suggests that we have a look at the first part of my book that she has typed up. This is a project I had embarked on earlier in lockdown, to write a book based on my diaries written during the first two and a half years of working on Church Gardens, before we were able to move in and the twins were born. Recently I have not had time to write but I am keen to continue, but first I thought we should research into the costs of self-funding the printing of such a book and see if it is a viable financial prospect. I want the book to be illustrated throughout in colour and I know roughly how long it will be and I know printing such a book will not be cheap. After we have satisfied ourselves that the prospective costs are manageable, I start proof reading what has already been typed. We also insert the proposed photographs, discuss layout and text fonts. I am very impressed at how Aideen has put it together so far and I feel enthused to carry on writing.
On a positive note, by the time I put Grandad to bed, he does appear improved. His mobility is stronger and he seems more lucid…thank goodness the antibiotics are working! For dinner, I cook pasta, chicken and olives which uses up one of my last butternut squashes. As I cut through the squash I can see the beads of moisture coming to the surface around the edges of the cut fruit. This is quite incredible to see, considering that it has been in store since October, 11 months ago.
Today is another topsy-turvy day due to a combination of multiple demands on my time from all directions and the weather being unpredictable.
We have a visit from a district nurse to give Grandad his vitamin B12 injection and to take away Jean’s notes as she is being imminently discharged into a nursing home. The bee man arrives to extract honey…always an exciting time…it will be interesting to see now much honey will be produced. Another man arrives to measure the stairs in the office and the house for carpet…I had thought he was only looking at the office, so that was a surprise. We’ve never had carpet on the house stairs before, in fact, we don’t have much carpet anywhere, along with not many curtains either…I think Diane is trying to push us to a more civilised state of living…probably a good thing!
I leave the carpet man to Diane and sneak off to plant lettuces...it is probably this type of behaviour that has led to us living in quite a ‘basic’ state for so long!
It is perfect conditions for planting (apart from copious weed growth) the soil is dark, soft and damp. It does not take long to plant out 37 healthy young lettuce plants which I arrange decoratively according to leaf colour and leaf type (some are frilly).
I then head for the cold frames which are over flowing with weeds to continue trying to clear and rediscover my miserable melon plants. However, I get distracted by the Alpine beds which have sprouted some quite large weeds in forbidden areas. It is no good having a large dandelion rudely pushing its way up into the middle of my display of shells and alpines or a young bramble audaciously rooting itself amongst my antique upturned ‘bottle bottoms’!
When I am satisfied that the Alpine beds are respectable, I return to the cold frames and as I pull back the rampant weed growth I make a very exciting discovery…a giant, dramatically marked green caterpillar. The caterpillar is as big as one of my fingers and I have been keeping an eye out for one of them for some time. It is the caterpillar of the elephant Hawk Moth. It dramatically twists and turns, unimpressed at being exposed. I carefully place it in the adjacent massive horseradish plant, having shown it to Aideen first. I am fairly sure horseradish is an appropriate food plant for the caterpillar, because this I where I have discovered them on previous years.
Aideen then asks if I want to come to the art shop, she is very keen to buy different types of paper for her pressed flower art. She probably thinks it would be good for me to get out of the house before I become a complete hermit! Off we go, with flowery face masks, which I do not find easy because they cause my glasses to steam up. I try placing the glasses lower down, resting on the face mask which lessens the misting but also the amount I can see in focus! We are very disappointed to find our beautiful art shop in Uxbridge, that I have gone to for years, has closed down.
Back at home we have visitors, Emma and gorgeous toddling Bobby. The next few hours are spent catching up and chasing Bobby as he explores every child-unfriendly corner of the house and garden. After our visitors leave, there is more time spent checking CV’s…the joys of Covid induced redundancies. Then there are more calls from district nurses asking about things that we will need to deliver to Jeans nursing home, which turns out to be more of an ‘assisted living’ complex. This leads to a flurry of phone-calls, firstly because we hadn’t been officially told that Jean had been discharged and secondly because no one had discussed with us the details of where she was being sent. All we knew was that because she required 24-hour care, she could not go home to us and she had to be placed in a facility that could meet these needs, I had assumed that would be a nursing home and we were all concerned that where she had actually been sent might not be monitoring her closely enough. No one could really answer our questions so we will have to investigate more tomorrow. I went outside again to try and distract myself by finishing weeding the melons. Sometimes, I do wonder if there will ever be a time when I do not have to worry about these things. I am very grateful that I no longer have to carry out Jean’s physical care, but for the two years prior to her coming to live with us, I had to organise and co-ordinate her care in Dorset. This was a considerable task, often requiring hours on the phone almost every day, plus regular visits to Dorset. I have a horrible feeling that we might be returning to this situation. Also, unfortunately, caring for dad is getting harder. It is a very difficult situation to find yourself in. Caring for children is a very demanding job, but obviously rewarding, and it continues throughout their education including university. I had nearly reached the end of that phase of my life and then out of the blue my dad requires full time care and is then joined by my aunt. This is something that you can never be prepared for and I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, but there are times when I wish it was different. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and I will probably feel better after some weeding!