Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why haven't I blogged in such a long time?
I won't answer with a full list of what's been happening - it would take all day. Suffice it to say that it's been pretty chaotic round here!
I've been looking after my mum - she's recovered quite well from her stroke, but can't do a lot of things for herself now, including cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. I go over on four days in the week, to help her with jobs, make her lunch and tea and generally be around. There are also a lot of appointments with dr, dentist, optician etc etc ets - I am the chauffeuse, so I have to take her to those - often on a Tuesday or Thursday, which should be my "Working Days". So, that keeps me quite busy and takes a good chunk of my time.
And there's home to look after. And my bookbinding business to (try to ) keep going. I've had a number of custom orders over the summer and autumn, which have been lovely and kept me well occupied. I also taught a one-day bookbinding workshop in September, which was really nice. We made felt-covered journals, with embroidered covers.
But the thing that has taken up most of my time, since April, has been The Extension Project! It has been quite a saga - I may go into details later, but not now.
We have made some major changes to our house, which have just been finished. Inside, we have remodelled the little sitting room, dining room and hallway. Outside, we've extended behind the original dining room, making it into a large living room next to the kitchen - a lounge & dining room combined. There are big, huge glass folding doors, which open onto the nice new deck and the garden. It's lovely. But it took ages and was so time-consuming and stressful. Never Again!!
We went from this:
May 2013 - rear of house, window and patio door.
December 2013 - new rear extension with bi-fold doors & new deck.
Inside it was like this:
Spring 2013 - cramped dining room
Now we have this:
December 2013 - new Living Room (the back of the small sofa is where the patio doors used to be).
We have loads more room! We also have the original sitting room, but it's slightly smaller, as we took out the wall between that room & the stairs, then added a partition wall a bit further over, to make a proper "hallway" beside the staircase.
The little sitting room - "Snug" - doesn't seem much smaller actually, as the old door into the dining room is now blocked up - we have a new way in, via the new hallway. It's going to make a great place to relax, play music - on the stereo, or our instruments - and generally be peaceful when the rest of the house is busy.
And it will be our Spare Room, so our guests no longer have to sleep in the dining room. See the sofa bed in the photo from the spring? That is now in the Snug and that room has its own door, so guests can have privacy and peace, instead of being in a sort-of corridor to the kitchen!
Overall, it's working very well. We "moved in" last week and we're getting used to having the space - especially after pretty much living upstairs for the past eight months! The kitchen is still filthy - there was So Much Dust! - but a lady is coming tomorrow, to help me scrub it from top to bottom. We still have no curtains up, but an extra-long curtain rail is in the post and due any day. The new cast iron stove isn't functional yet, as it needs safety checks and a certificate, but we hope to be able to use it soon. There are still jobs to do - such as a final coat of paint & varnish on the new banisters, or varnishing the new door to the living room - but on the whole, we're finished and ready to get that Christmas Tree down from the loft!
This is Tom. He came to live with us on Saturday and we're delighted to have him.
He has had a bit of a sad life, but we hope to improve things for him. His original family moved house, but left Tom behind them. He was a stray for two years, before he developed a problem with his eye and a lady that was feeding him took him to a vet for treatment. It turned out to be a thorn in his eye (!), which is now okay. He was then put into a foster home, in a cat pen - you can see it in the photo - where he stayed for a whole year. It appears that many people don't want a black cat - they prefer prettier colours; also people are wary of taking on a long-haired cat, that needs grooming regularly. And also the financial situation means that less people are adopting cats anyway. But we don't mind that he is black, or fluffy - he appealed to us immediately and we brought him home this weekend.
Tom has spent his first weekend in the laundry room. We made him a "den" under a long piece of worktop that has no cupboards beneath. He has food, then a nice safe cat-carrier for a bed /hidey hole, plus a corner for his litter tray. He spent the first two days hiding behind the washing machine, but has been eating and coming out when it's quiet, to explore a little.
When I came home from my mum's after lunch today, I found Tom sitting on the window sill in the downstairs loo - which has a door from the laundry room. I was even able to walk in there and talk to him, stroke him and brush him a bit. So progress is being made!
I've sent off for one of the pheromone diffusers you can buy, which gives out a very subtle "happy cat" smell. It's supposed to be good for calming anxious, nervous cats, so we hope it will help to give Tom a bit more confidence. Perhaps we can entice him out into the main room quite soon.
Anyway, I will keep you posted - I'm back now, so Watch This Space!