Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Taking a break ...

I'm taking a little time off.  Losing Sopicat hit me harder than I ever thought possible.  Also life has been happening, things to sort out.  I'm leaving the blog up so anyone can still visit if they want too.
Take care of yourselves ....

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

To answer a few points ...

Welcome to Sandra Koester - a new follower.  You are very welcome.

I am surprised how much interest this thread has generated.  I have had many emails from people telling me their stories and identifying with an unhappy childhood. 

 I would like to answer one or two questions before leaving this topic

New follower Sandy said:

.I am so disappointed that no one at your school recognized what was going on and helped you. Surely the teacher must have thought it odd that you never had the ingredients for domestic science and figured out what was going on.

Hi Sandy, well  you see, back in the day, teachers were teachers, not Social workers, and were not trained to look out for this sort of thing as, thankfully, they are today.  It was just a case of, you either had the stuff or  you didn't, and if  you didn't, you were humiliated in front of the whole class.  I used to avoid that humiliation by 'hiding' in the toilets for the whole of the session (3 periods).  Believe me, standing on a tiny toilet seat so no one could see your legs underneath the door for a whole afternoon was no mean feat !  When lessons ended I legged it as quickly as I could to avoid being questioned. 

I did the same with PE because I didn't have any of the kit !

Dawn, your story is just as harrowing, you got the right word there - rejected.  I left school at 16 to marry at 18 (a disastrous decision) the sole reason was to escape home life.

Email 1 asks:

'Why didn't you tell anyone about your homelife ?'

Because I didn't think I had anything to tell or complain about, I had nothing to compare my situation with so thought it was natural.

Email 2 asks:

'When did you realise you were abused/mistreated ?'

I can answer that with accuracy.  I was due to leave school shortly, and I was sent around to a neighbours house on an errand, a girl the same age as me lived there.  I was asked to come in and wait, which made me nervous because that was something Mother never did, everyone had to wait outside or 'go round the back', anyway I heard the sound of laughter and saw that Mother and daughter seemed to be enjoying a joke.  This made me feel uncomfortable as we didn't laugh in our house, adults laughing was considered course, common and vulgar.
But I 'warmed' to the atmosphere in that house and I didn't want to leave even though I felt very hurt when the Mother hugged the daughter.

That was my 'lightbulb moment' the moment I realised that all was not as it should be in my home and with my Mother.

Father was totally under the thumb by the way and did as he was told, even to the point of telling me off for her and telling me once "I hope you rot in hell" - nice !

I'll  leave this thread now.  It only started discussing housework !  isn't it amazing  how one thing leads to another ?

Thank you all for your comments and emails - and to those who have had similar experiences:

'We made it through - we may have  been knocked down, but we got up again'.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Bucket ... continued ... !

Welcome to Undomesticated Diva - glad to have you here, hope you find it interesting.

Yesterdays post brought some  welcome and interesting comments, as well as private emails.  Thank you all.

I thought I would continue it today with a little more insight into my childhood (yawn).
Boys always had to come first, that's the way it was ... end of.  I had two brothers, one older and one younger.  The older one was my Mother's pride and joy, her 'everything', she adored him.  I came a poor second until the (unplanned) birth of my younger brother, then I came a poor third.

I held no animosity towards either brother, this is just the way it was, I knew nothing different, so accepted that I (girls) were just not so important.  That means when it came to school uniforms, equipment etc. etc., I didn't get them, again it didn't bother me because after all, I was just a girl. I never got the 'ingredients' for domestic science lessons and had to suffer the ridicule of the other girls and the wrath of the teachers. (I went to a girls school)  I also never had gym equipment, never went on any school trips and had hardly any friends because I couldn't ask them to my house.  (Have you got your violins out yet ?  ha ha).

So it's not surprising I grew up with an inferiority complex the size of a bus, which is still with me.

My bedroom was never private, personal things weren't allowed up there.  She would arrange 'stuff' i.e. brush/coms/perfume bottles etc., to her liking and they couldn't be moved.  She would also go through the contents of my cupboards on a regular basis and open letters.

I remember once, (I will never forget it) my paternal Grandmother died, the family distributed the 'goodies', I was given a horrific pair of shoes which made me feel ill even to try on, as I was young the thought of wearing a dead persons shoes was an awful thing, but I had to wear them for several months, they were old fashioned and ugly and I even had to wear them for PE (physical exercise).

Sadly, several years ago, my elder brother died, this destroyed my Mother, she was never the same again and it was the beginning of the end for her.  She didn't want to be comforted by me or anyone else even though I 'nursed' her during the last weeks of her life which meant a daily trip of 160 miles for me, I had to do my best, because after all, I had to have a clear conscience 'afterwards'.

She gave her 'everything' to my elder brother, and it has to be said the younger one was a favourite too, but at the end, he wouldn't go and see her even though she was continually asking for him.  She had said things that he couldn't forgive, even though she was dying, so I bore the brunt and tried my best to console her and make excuses for him.

Some of the emails I have received (as well as Undomesticated Diva) have said my childhood was bordering on child abuse, and even though I didn't realise it at the time, it definitely was.  These days the Social Services would have been called in without a doubt, well for me anyway. I don't bear any grudge for my elder dear brother, it was not his fault he was so doted on, he did not ask for it and didn't welcome it, I suppose you could say I was happy enough to be last in the pecking order.

A couple of things spring to mind while I'm on the 'pity-pot' after the birth of my first child, a girl, I proudly went to visit her, I didn't have my own car then, it took three buses there and three back, I got to the house, knocked several times but she wouldn't answer the door.  I knew she was in, I could see her, but she didn't want the house messed up.

Another time, when I had my own car (all grown up now of course) I drove over to Stratford on Avon where she lived, it was a lovely day, I took flowers, but never got over the doorstep again, she said as it was such a nice day we should all sit outside !!!!  make of that what you will.

Anyway, I did my duty at the end and can sleep at night because of that.

It was not a great childhood.

I will say I did NOT repeat these experiences with my own children, they were allowed to have friends in to play and stay, were well fed, had all the equipment for school they needed, went on school trips, and even though I had to bring them up alone due to a painful divorce, they never went short of anything and in many cases 'led the rest' - as it were.
They are all healthy, balanced and happy, two have their own businesses, and all have happy children.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Are you a Hyacinth ... ?

Are you a Hyacinth Bouquet ? spelt B U C K E T ?

The lady with all the airs and graces of Royalty, where keeping up with the Jones's is her main aim in life ? who polishes the leaves on her plants, and wastes no opportunity to mention her Royal Doulton china with the hand painted periwinkles ?

You may well laugh, but there are so many of these 'ladies'.  I'm sure we all know one or two.

These ladies don't have homes, they have 'photo shoots', where nothing is allowed to be out of place, you can't sit on a cushion for fear of creasing it, you have to walk around the rugs instead of over them and even the plants in the garden stand to attention, not daring to relax !

I feel sorry for them, they obviously have OCD.

I know a lot about this subject because I was brought up in such a household, and it was hell !  I could tell you so much, but I'm sure you get the picture.  Just one or two things, when we came out of our bedrooms in the morning, we weren't allowed to go back in until bedtime. (no friends ever got over the doorstep let alone into the bedroom).  Even though there was an upstairs toilet if the need arose in the night, we had to come downstairs and use the outside one.

At night, it was freezing in the wintertime, there was an electric fire in the room but it was taped over so we couldn't switch it on, curtains were not drawn because it would spoil the 'folds' in them, frost formed inside of the windows  (I kid you not!)

Saturdays we didn't eat ! the kitchen was not messed  up on Saturdays !

Christmas presents were allowed out on Christmas morning, then had to be 'hidden' out of view behind the sofa.  Incidentally, the 'front room' was only used on Christmas day, it was cold and damp.  The furniture had to be kept in pristine condition.  Mother did relax this though in later life, we were allowed in there after tea.

She used to 'put the talk on' - it was embarrassing !  she was talking to a neighbour one day in the street and I asked her why she was talking 'funny' (I was 5) and I got a clip around the ear for my cheek !  (you couldn't report your parents for GBH in those days).

Snow had to be shovelled neatly, neater than anyone else's snow, and we were questioned about the contents of friends houses, furniture etc., to see if they had anything better than us !

So if you recognise yourself ladies, please start to change ... now.

My experiences have stayed with me all my life, it was not a happy childhood.  You may think you have a great home, but you are damaging your families for life.

My homes have always been clean, reasonably tidy and hopefully say: - 'come in, sit down, make yourself at home' - not ' don't sit down, don't make a mess, you are not welcome'.

My Mother would hate the way I live, i.e. frugally, making do and mending, stretching money, shopping at charity shops, boot sales etc., she thought the more you spent, the better person you were, and the more cleaning you did, the more people would like you. - It didn't work.

I'm sure she ascended into Heaven on a vacuum !

Sorry Mother, but you know I'm right.

She'll probably start hurling thunderbolts down on me now for my cheek !

Something for you to think about ...

Saturday, 4 July 2015

I guess I'm lucky ...

Reading through other peoples blogs makes me realise how lucky I am.
I never considered myself lucky until reading about problems that other bloggers have.
Recently I've had a loss which is still engulfing me, but I'm trying to carry on ...

I'm referring to health.  I'm 70 years old.  I can't remember the last time I went to the doctors, but I can remember that I couldn't find the way in !  So I am lucky with my health.
I'm told I don't look my age, and my vanity will believe that !!!  I certainly don't feel it.  I have energy to spare, and as opposed to feeling that I should 'wind down', I feel I haven't started yet !

I read about how people have to have repeat prescriptions, tests, scans, appointments with specialists, operations etc. etc. etc., and these are people much younger than me.  Some have even had to leave their family homes and move into smaller accommodation/bungalows/sheltered housing because they can't cope anymore.

I feel sorry for these people and their partners.  They seem to have endless problems.   They certainly seem to get their 'moneys worth' from the NHS though !   it's a good job the NHS doesn't depend on me for profit.

I was brought up with the knowledge that you don't rush off to the doctors when you have a sniffle, boil, pimple or pain in the elbow !  I don't even know who my designated Doctor is.

My weight has never been much of a problem, I suppose because I don't stuff myself unnecessarily, the most overweight I have been (at the  moment) is 8 lbs. which I'm trying work off, and I will, because I feel a failure if I think I am overweight, an embarrassment to my family if you like.

Health is precious, and we must take care of ourselves as best we can.  Without our health, we can achieve nothing.  Just a few thoughts ...

Friday, 3 July 2015

More foraged, frugal and free food ... and some vintage bargains ... !

I'm enjoying foraging at the moment, as well as providing free food it's keeping me occupied.
Today I'd like to tell you about one of my very favourite wild greens, it's Jack by the Hedge, or Garlic Mustard.  I really love this, lightly steamed it tastes like the freshest of spring cabbage.

This is what it looks like growing in the wild:

Apparantly the whole plant is edible, even the stalks which can be chopped and fried and added to stir-fries, the flowers can also be added to salads, they are only tiny, but add a little interest.  I only use the leaves.  I made a pasta bake dish yesterday and added some chopped steamed Garlic Mustard into it before putting it in the oven to brown, a layer of grated cheese made a high protein meal.

I also added a couple of dollops of pesto and it was lovely with a mixed green salad.  The salad consisted of dandelion leaves, baby turnip leaves, assorted lettuce leaves and a couple of the tops from Rosebay Willow Herb, just dressed with a little oil.  A couple of tomato's would have been nice but I didn't have any so did without.

Also in the salad was wild Plantain, here it is soaking in some cold water with the Garlic Mustard, I'll tear the leaves up before steaming.  The plantain can also be used raw in a salad.

This is what it looks like growing in the wild:
Dessert was my own strawberries topped with plain yoghurt and raspberries, red and gold.

Here are some sprigs of watercress that have rooted, you can just see the roots.  In the absence of a freshwater stream at the bottom of the garden I will plant these in a pot and place the pot in a bowl of water which will be changed every 2/3 days to prevent the build up of any bacteria.
Do you like the pots ?  they are vintage French cast iron, they have been used and loved and I love them also.  A whole chicken with vegetables will fit into the white one.
They're from the local charity shop for only £1 each.
Just a word about foraging if you are new to it.  Start with something familiar i.e. dandelion leaves, nettles etc., and introduce a new taste into your diet gradually, i.e. chopped wild green in soup or stews or a pasta dish like I have done.  Leave two days between introducing another 'new' vegetable so your system can get used to it.
Check Youtube for foraging videos, there are some excellent ones on there with loads of information.  They are now referred to as nature's 'superfoods' so don't let them go to waste.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Please don't forget your pets in this warm weather - and one 'very' clever cat ...

Yesterday was awful as far as weather is concerned, we were all sweltering in the oppressive heat so think how uncomfortable it must be for our pets with their fur coats on !

I had an 'incident' yesterday that scared the **** out of me, especially in the wake of losing Sopicat, I thought I was losing another.  Itty (the kitty) cat gave me a scare.  I found him upstairs breathing very rapidly, mouth wide open and panting.  He is a long haired tabby so must have been very hot.  I picked him up and his body was so hot !  I syringed some water into him, as much as I could, then got the fan and holding it close to his body, kept going over and over him hoping to cool him down.  He lay there and let me do it.  He stopped panting after about 15 minutes, I carried on cooling him for about 40 minutes.  He was worn out and he fell asleep.  I left the fan still trained on him about 12" away.

Itty the Kitty on the bed with Sopicat.

He came downstairs after about an hour looking much better but exhausted.  This was definitely a case of overheating, heat stroke in fact.  Thank goodness he responded.

It's so easy to just put water down and think that out pets will be OK, but in severe heat such as yesterday they need monitoring just as much as old or young people.

This scared me and I will be watching him and the others like a hawk now.  At the moment he is sitting on a cushion in the kitchen with the fan trained on him.  Last night, he sat in front of the fan and fell asleep, he knew he had to stay cool, now that is a very 'very' clever cat !

The kitchen was cleaned up after I got Itty settled ! and yes, I do let them sit on the worktop, it gets wiped down in bleach afterwards, so anyone worrying about germs need have no fear, if I was going to catch anything from my cats, I would have done so by now !  You can see the fur on his back being blown up by the cool air.
Panic over ! settled in front of the fan and keeping cool, the fan is working by the way.  Now that is a 'very' clever cat !
Don't forget your furry friends when you are sorting out the suncreams, floppy hats and light clothing for yourselves and families, they need extra attention too !

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Free healthy greens ...

I'm sure you will know that I am interested in foraging for free food especially when I don't get anything reduced or like now while I'm waiting for my vegetables to mature outside.

I've not been in the mood for bargain shopping for a while, but having had several days of eating hardly anything because of 'circumstances', my stomach started to complain.  I had in the freezer a large bag of casserole veggies, root veggies, I put them in the slow cooker with some stock and a cube

I added a tin of chopped tomato's and some dried herbs and was surprised to see how much I had - a pot full ! obviously most of this was going to be frozen.  Anyway no room for potato's in there so I decided to steam some separately, but had no 'greens'.  I do however, had a small 'stand' of Rosebay Willow Herb growing at the back of the garden
I'm sure you've all seen this growing in the wild.  Try not to gather it from roadsides though.
This is a fantastic weed wild edible plant, the leaves are a great substitute for cabbage/spinach, the tender stalks can be chopped and added to stir fries and even the flowers can be eaten, the seeds are also supposed to be nice dry fried and can be ground or eaten as a snack although I haven't personally tried eating the seeds yet.
Anyway, I picked 6 stalks about 18" long, stripped off the leaves and put them to soak in cold water for a while.  This turned out to be too much for one person, 3 stalks is enough, it doesn't 'cook down'.
After draining them, I chopped them up ready for steaming
I steamed them on top of the potato's
You can see I'm never very far away from a cup of tea ! but I have to confess just lately it has been something stronger to help me through this difficult time.
I wasn't sure if the greens would need any extra flavouring, so I added some freshly ground black pepper and some of this spice from the £1 shop with a built in grinder
When they were tender I mashed the potato's and added the 'greens' with a knob of butter, a bit like Bubble and Squeak, well exactly like Bubble and Squeak really.  I don't like my potato's well mashed, that's too sloppy for me, so I 'crush' them as Jamie Oliver would say, whack them about a bit, chuck in the butter and smash them up, so suitably whacked, smashed and crushed, I ended up with this, and very tasty it was too
At the back are some left over 'crushed' potato's and greens, which I used as a topping for a pie made with some of the veggie 'stew'
There's 2/3 portions here as well as half a pot full of stew left, I will sprinkle this with grated cheese before heating it up.  And if that isn't stretching food to infinity and beyond, I still had some potato mix left to which I added an egg and some cheese, formed it into patties and put them in to the freezer.
Just one more picture showing the steaming water, it contains the goodness from the potato's as well as nutrients from the willowherb.  This will be used either for gravy/sauce or as a stock base for soup or a slow cooked dish, nothing is wasted.
This has been a fantastic experiment in frugality, and when I tried to put a price on each meal, I couldn't because it came out as a - price !  I don't count things like butter, an egg or a pinch of herbs etc., in the costings, most people have those in the house anyway.  So all in all - result !
Thank you all so much for your kind comments, they have helped tremendously (and still are).
Here  I am with my Dearest Boy, just after he collapsed in pain in the kitchen
I had called the vet at this point, I knew what I had to do.  I picked him up carefully at put him on his favourite velvet cushion while we waited, this is the last picture ...
I can't write anymore about this, it chokes me too much.

Friday, 26 June 2015

I have a magic paintbox to paint away the pain ...

concealer to hide the black circles under my eyes
foundation to cover the blotchiness from too much crying
whitening eye drops to take away the bloodshot from my eyes
lipstick to paint on a smile
a little cheek blusher to make me look like I haven't been up all night

there, now I'm ready to 'mind the shop' again.

How do I stop being overwhelmed by this choking sensation ?
Good job no one can see inside, there is a hole where my heart once was
and my brain cell has all but shut down, unable to face the reality of what has happened.
The emptiness inside is expanding and suffocating me.
I'm pacing the floor at night unable to sleep.

I keep looking for 'him' listening for him to call me
I won't sit on certain parts of the sofa because it's where 'he' sits sat
I keep preparing now unwanted medications
Also extra bowls of food

I want to thank all of you for your kind messages of sympathy, it really does help knowing that there are kind friends out there who really know what I'm going through and have experienced it themselves.
Thank you.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

I don't have the words ....

Rest in Peace my Sweet Angel, my dearest boy, my devoted friend. 

My heart is broken.  I love you.


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