This is the time of year when I tell you what's been happening round here, and hope in exchange to find out what's been happening with you. I love reading Christmas letters, but I suspect it's a bit of a niche taste. Mostly they're positive - which can sound saccharine, or boastful. Occasionally, as they are based on reality, they're negative - which can sound whiny, especially with repetition. This is the trap I fear falling into.
Summary of my year: the less said the better.
(skip to the good bit)
I've been very limited by pain. I checked my impression that it's been more than usually so by drawing up an Out of Action calendar. I had four "good" months. The latest CT scan of my mangled lower back suggests continuing to manage the pain (ie grinning and bearing it) unless I'd care to approach the neurosurgeon again about an operation he doesn't believe will work.
Dac's year wasn't great either, towards the end. He spent a pretty ghastly week in hospital with a foot infection that's still healing. One day we'll walk again!
Not being able to do much makes me cross. Not being able to go anywhere without trouble that extends far beyond the activity makes me furious. So mostly I chug around in my usual tracks:
Things that take most people no time take me forever: this is why I only write once a year. It's a battle to do anything other than personal or domestic maintenance. Occasionally I manage, though. Let me be the first to admit that I get to do some really good things. For example...
June was a month I lost to rage and frustration because I had a new computer. None of the software I use every day would work any more. But June was also the month of the Progressive Cat Viewing Afternoon Tea, which (apart from the return of my daughter Helen to the Antipodes) has to be the best thing that happened in 2011.
Annabel has two cats that she got at about the same time as we got Mayhem and Mischief. Helene S has two cats which are the siblings of Annabel's cats, or at least from the same farm. For ages we've been saying we should visit each other's cats. Finally a day came when we were all free and able to agree on a time.
My favourite picture of Mischief this year
I was apprehensive: hardly anyone apart from Dac and Brian and me has ever clapped eyes on our proverbially nervous cats. They always hide. I distracted myself by making my first-ever batch of scones - pumpkin scones, as I had been given a large Queensland Blue by my Danish teacher. My sister advised me by phone to make them with the food processor, which was a big help. I put some in the freezer for her July visit (as it turned out, we forgot and they had to wait till October) and set the rest out at the appointed hour.
Annabel arrived first and we began drinking cups of tea, eating pumpkin scones (which were a great success), and talking about our cats. Helene brought date scones. To my astonishment, both the cats let themselves be seen, if briefly - we even managed to measure their tails, which were 14" (~35cm) long.
Next we visited Marco and Poppy at Annabel's place. Poppy is a tortoiseshell cat who is probably tiny inside her enormous halo of fur. Marco is black and white, like Mischief but a bit fluffier. They are friendly and brave, and their tails proved to be slightly longer than our cats' tails.
Annabel, Dac, Helene and I continued to drink tea, this time with delicious home-made biscuits, and engage in cat-related conversation.
The day was drawing in when we arrived at Helene's place to meet "the boys", George and Frederick, a pair of enormous black and white cats. One is short-haired and one is long. We sat around Helene's fire and the boys distinguished themselves by staging play fights in between climbing onto the visitors to be patted. Their tails were 15" long!
One of the pleasures of the Progressive Cat Viewing Afternoon Tea was being able to talk freely about our cats. So nice not to have to listen to disapproval and moralising! We all love our cats, with their independence and their tricks and their furriness, and they put on a fair show of affection towards us, whatever the sceptics may say.
A pity I didn't take any photos of this occasion!
For my own future reference and for those of you who feel like reading on, I've included more pictures and stories about the year on three further pages. They start here.
I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas, and wish you all the very best for the New Year.
Page created 31 December 2011; last updated 09 January 2012