Decadently sipping red wine in my pyjamas while I wait for the washing to finish downstairs. I think we have at last reached the tipping point in Aunt's flat where there is now at last less to clear than has been cleared. I was helped today by two friends. They met Mother and Aunt years ago, there's an NI connection, and that was that. Part of the family now. They dropped by before lunch, went away, obviously thought about the task and called to offer their services this afternoon. Five hours later I told them they needed to go home for their dinner.
But what a difference it makes having three pairs of hands, three pairs of legs, three pairs of eyes. We're you to walk into the room where I am sitting now, you might think my excitement rather premature, but bags and bags of stuff have gone to the recycling, the charity shop, the rubbish, and the chemist. We have reunited separated parts of a food processor, found pictures of Aunt that made us stop and reminisce. There's a letter, a testimonial written for Aunt by her first employer that she had promised to look out for me. Definitely one for the family archives.
At the scheme there is a table opposite the laundry room where people can leave buts and pieces they no linger want for other residents to take. I have been putting cleaning materials there, coffee sachets, a tin opener, an egg slicer. You get the picture. Often when I visited Aunt I would bring magazines and leave them there. They always went really quickly. Aunt and I would wonder who took them and why. Yesterday I left two full bottles of carpet cleaner there went put to the car came back and the carpet cleaner had gone.
The rain is being thrown against the windows tonight, but this morning was glorious, and a windy day meant even the heaviest washing on the line dried thoroughly.
Celia and I set off from the Elysian fields of sunny Walworth to visit the not so deep south where Denmark Hill meets Herne Hill. There are roads leading off the main road that we only ever seem to see from the bus. Time for some initial explorations. En route we passed the site of a newly demolished house. It reminded us of bombsites. This fireplace was presumably blocked up and the grate left undisturbed for decades until the house was pulled down. It looks like the sticks that had been placed in it for a fire that was never lit were also immured. My guess is it will end up in an antique shop somewhere and fetch a tidy sum.
It would be ironic if the purchaser were one of those incomers who have just realised that south east London’s grittiness suddenly flavour of the month.
I needed the loo, so we diverted to the newest local library. My preoccupation with my bladder may explain why I didn’t photograph the exterior. There are some historic items in the foyer, including this one celebrating the number of local men who signed up to fight in the First world war. It was hours later before I thought to wonder if my great uncles were among them.
Cat Woman sounds sexy; someone with a bust, waistline and only one chin; someone who tackles baddies single-handedly before breakfast; someone who has an Eartha Kitt drawl; someone who is not worried her cellulite might show through her leggings.
A friend called me Cat Lady yesterday. It made me think of someone with rollered-curls in iron grey hair, wearing snuggly slippers with pompoms, a floral apron and face powder, with a swarm of cats broiling about her ankles.
To be honest the description is disturbingly close. Ok I’m a greying ex-strawberry blond, with the emphasis very much on the ex, though in my defence, (or do I mean to massage my vanity?) the hairdresser did ask me where I had had it coloured because he liked the shade so much; I have never worn curlers; my slippers are red and from Marrakesh and do not have pompoms; my current apron (I have three, which may mean another title, though two are inherited from Mother) has rows of leeks and other vegetables on it; and the only powder I have is talcum. And I have just the one cat, the beautiful MasterB.
Checking out the street
An appropriate challenge, as I have been a little time away from my page, busy with funeral arrangements and other responsibilities.
This picture is at Waterloo Station in London this afternoon. I have long admired the clock and have several photos of it. Railway stations with their departure boards and trains arriving and leaving are places where people are very conscious of the time. In the bookshop the book cited in this challenge was being promoted. Continue reading
Back in the Smoke, and recovering from the full-on flat clearing. I’ll go back in a week to resume it, though heaven only knows if I’ll finish.
I brought back far more stuff than I’d expected. As I type, I am wearing an old cardigan of Aunt’s. It has a couple of moth holes, but is warm and sloppy, and a pretty shade of blue. Not everything is out of the car yet. My own maximalist flat seemed remarkably uncluttered after my few days at Aunt’s and the last thing I want to do here is replicate the scene I left behind. Her yoghurt maker, tempting but I don’t have the space, nor do I eat enough yoghurt, has gone to my chef neighbour. Other of her kitchen gadgets may well follow, though I am tempted by her microwave, only a couple of months old.
I have never had a microwave, never missed having one, but this seems an opportunity to find out if I would use one, or if it would be just another bit of clutter. I think I’ll go for it, and the pretty vase that I have been hanging onto can go to a new home and that corner can house the new acquisition.
I’ve brought home plates that belonged to Mother, some fleeces, the Nutri-Bullet I bought Aunt last year, various other presents I have given her over time. I seem to have been very keen to introduce gadgets into her life.
What is it about a journey that makes me emotional? Driving up from London, I was, for fairly obvious reasons, thinking about Aunt quite a lot. Ten miles from her home, I began to feel tearful; two villages away from my destination I was weeping. Stopping to buy eggs, I took deep breaths before resuming the road. Only too clearly I could imagine her flat; going in, expecting to see her, her no longer there. I have come east three times to dead or dying relatives. The roads are dense with memories.
As it was, having MasterB with me made my arrival easier as I had to make sure he was alright, and that got me over the threshold and inside. And of course Aunt wasn’t there. But her bed was, just as when she last went to sleep in it.
Dismantling someone’s home after his or her death is a curious thing. In some ways it is very intimate, and there have been moments when I have felt that I am doing something sacrilegious, or least boorishly intrusive. But it has to be done. Continue reading
I have tried to learn from last night and I have stopped work clearing Aunt's many many effects to spend the evening with MasterB. I can't say it's going terribly well; he did play with the dangly toy for a few minutes, but he declined to come with me to the laundry to check on the nth load of washing I have put in the machine since arriving early yesterday afternoon. Right now he is curled up asleep on Aunt's chair having spent large parts of the day on top of the kitchen cabinets.
Snow in abundance on America’s east coast. In London, our brief cold snap has gone and it feels like spring. Celia and I went out for a walk this afternoon. It had been sunny this morning and we softened the butter to have with our lunch of bread and soup on the window sill.
But by the time we went out, the clouds were banking up, so the skies in my pictures from today are grey.
We walked from Waterloo Bridge along the south side of the river, past the National Theatre to Gabriel’s Wharf where a magnificent treehouse was being constructed to promote Virgin Holidays. Apparently it’s only going to be there for a week.
Once upon a time I used to join in with all the weekly photo challenges. Now I tend to suddenly remember them just as they end. I know some people, including regular readers of this blog count themselves as ‘late’ if they wait even a day to put up a linked post.
Broken Pillar #12
Last Friday, Celia and walked around the City of London. It was a therapeutic walk. My aunt had died the previous day, and I believe walking is good for the soul. Certainly my soul felt easier at the end of our perambulations.
There was more therapy in the shape of my camera, in the sculptures and buildings we looked at, in the blue skies. They were good reminders that there is always cause for optimism, even at our saddest moments.
So having not posted a single photograph in months for the weekly photo challenges, I am going overboard and posting a whole bunch at once for this week’s challenge.
The theme of the photo challenge this week is Optimistic.
I think MasterB has a slight limp. Or maybe he hasn’t.
He was involved in some fisticuffs today and came home with tufts of fur that had been pulled from their roots sticking out from his coat. I removed them and checked him over. No mewing when I touched him, though later I found a scratch close to his eye which has now been bathed.
He took himself off to a drawer under my bed and slept for hours. Then when I went out he transferred to his bed in the sitting room and slept some more. I only realised he had relocated because I heard him snoring. Continue reading