I almost wrote that nothing much has happened here lately, but on reflection, it certainly has. Baby E and his mother came and went. He was such fun to have around, especially now that he is mobile. He bowled about speedily with his bandy-legged trundling walk, arms aloft for balance, making him H-shaped, and pursued his current fascination with opening and shutting doors. The small cupboard under the windowsill was the best - open it carefully, and BANG! it shut. Do it again. And again. And again. Make sure the sitting room door is closed. Every time anyone comes through it. Scuttle rapidly across the room, and shut that door firmly, even if someone is coming in, gingerly carrying a cup of tea. Naughtily, we left doors open deliberately, knowing that he would rise to the challenge.
And then they were gone, bearing a picnic for the train journey, and leaving the usual gaping hole in our lives. The role of grandparenting is so different from parenting; I have more understanding now of my own mother, who, I thought, over-indulged my son greatly when he was small, and irritated me at times in doing so. I would protest that he really didn't need a little present every time she went shopping, or to have his every wish met at once. And now I find myself doing pretty much the same things, happy to oblige a small, smiling, dimpled tyrant, happy to bend the rules, happy to get up early each day, welcoming the sleepy, smiley face, and most of all, happy to be Grandma.
The cats have caused some heartache. We had to say goodbye to dear old Catkin, probably about 18 years old now, and ready to go. I wanted the other cats to know she had died and not just gone missing, so we left her on view while The Gardener dug a hole in the garden. The other cats examined her very throughly as she lay in her cardboard box - they would not have dared get so close to her bad-tempered eminence in life. Then the lid was put on, and afterwards a little willow planted over her. Another era had passed.
Catkin's arch-rival and enemy, Lottie, has had a horrible time too.
Recently recovered from illness, she went to the vet for a routine dental clean and polish, and, to my guilt-ridden horror and surprise, emerged bloody and drooling, after having five extractions. The others were terrified, spitting and running away from her, but after a day or two of recovery, medication and a thorough wash, Lottie's position as queen of the household was re-established, to everyone's satisfaction.
A friend has been to stay, newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, reeling with shock, needing to talk, and we have spent the weekend walking on the beach, eating, drinking herbal tea (well, not me....), researching - oh so many sources of information, often quite contradictory - on diet, preparing for chemotherapy, surgery, and how to stay relatively sane during this most terrifying process. Ironically, she has never looked as well as she does at present, each week and each test yielding more and more bad news.
Meanwhile, The Gardener has been laid low with an atrocious cold, not helped by worrying about having passed it on. And I have done what I always do - feeding everyone. I can't help myself - my mother and grandmother were exactly the same, using food as the medium to express love, care and concern, managing illness, anxiety, and coping with fear of the unknown. If you should ever come to visit, be prepared for this, and for being sent home with tuck parcels, containers of soup, or cake, farm eggs and possibly a couple of pounds on the hips. We all cope in our different ways; the Feeders amongst us know what we must do, and get busy with pots and pans.
I think I may be glad when February is over.