April 2011 - a very mixed month in my world. Although in our part of the UK the weather has largely been fabulous: we've had some wonderful spring warmth and sunshine (on 5th April, my car temp gauge read 25°C (that's 77°F!), along with the perhaps more predictable April showers, and chillier days, but those were in the minority. The school Easter holidays coincided with the most beautiful warm, sunny weather - it was so lovely. I can't ever remember having consistently good weather like that over the Easter holidays before. Right ... on to our 'doings' (WARNING ... This goes on a bit!)
Early April sees the birthday of No.1 - quite how she got to be this age remains a total mystery to me, as it seems like only a couple of months' ago that she was toddling around, and happy to watch The Teletubbies every day. (She is going to kill me for putting that here :D ). This year's celebration was to have some friends round for an evening (as with last year there were boys and girls). I provided the food and drink and then retreated to the kitchen. They Wii'd, they wrestled in the garden (don't ask!), one of them climbed on the shed roof, they played Twister (amazing fun for all ages), they watched a movie and by 11pm all was quiet in our world again. Thankfully, I had forewarned the neighbours that there might be some noise. Anyway, that's another big step towards adulthood for No.1 who had a lovely time at her noisy party, with her noisy friends ... and that's what matters most.
I was incredibly saddened mid-month to hear some very bad news. I have had a Czech pen friend for almost 20 years. Her name was Jindra, and we first encountered one another when I contacted the Czech Astrological Society with a request for help on a project on which I was working. (The project centred on the theories of Eugen Jonas, a Czech psychiatrist who developed a system which he believed to be a highly effective tool for calculating when women would be at their most fertile. This method could be used to either help a couple conceive a child, or to avoid that very scenario. I wanted to do my own research on his method, and was trying to contact either him or a spokesperson for him. Jindra was, at that time, the secretary of the organisation to which I wrote, and was very helpful in introducing me to Dr Jonas himself.
Anyway, even though I did not reach any firm conclusions relating to the so-called 'Lunar Cycle' method of birth control/fertility aid, I did form a very strong friendship with Jindra. We never met; instead exchanging very frequent letters - isn't it strange how one can become so very close to someone one has never physically met? She was the widow of a lecturing Professor at the Charles' University of Prague. We shared the interest in astrology of course, but also found we just got along extremely well. Her English was so good; she typed her letters to me on an old typewriter she had in her apartment. She asked that I type my letters to her as she found my handwriting almost indecipherable. *blush* We sent each other cards and gifts at Christmas and birthdays, along with the letters. But I hadn't heard from her since Christmas, and that worried me.
It was her birthday in March, so I did what I always did - I sent a card and small gift, and put a note inside saying I was very worried about her as I'd heard nothing. I think in my heart of hearts I knew something awful had happened, but since I didn't know for sure, the little flame of hope which we all carry inside ourselves, kept me hoping that all was well, and that she was just busy.
The letter I received this month was from her daughter, Nadia, and contained a copy of the death notice and funeral arrangements. It is all in Czech, but I knew from the sombre black border and the printed black rose, exactly what it represented. Nadia explained that Jindra's problems with her spine (about which I did know) had worsened, and that she'd had a fall, then a heart attack, and died. We never did meet, although I had hopes to one day go to Prague to see her. You never know when Life is going to do something unexpected, do you? RIP Jindra - I shall miss you so much - x.
This month my mum also lost a very dear friend. Woody had been a feature in her life since my childhood, so that's a very long time. She was a lovely lady - I first knew her as the school nurse when I was at primary school. They don't have in-house nurses at schools now, do they? She was a stalwart of the St John's Ambulance, and I remember seeing her at various local 'events' as the first aid 'person'. In later years I knew her and her husband, Jack, as mum and dad's friends. She died the day before her birthday. RIP Woody.
And since these things come in threes ... I have some more bad news: Do you remember Wilbur? The little kitten whose cute face I published in my January Round Up. Wilbur turned out to be a brave, adventurer soul - he wasn't scared of much, and that worried the mum of No.1's friend 'S', who owned him. We were having a cuppa and a chat one Friday last month and she confessed that something inside told her not to get too attached to Wilbur; she just had this 'feeling' that something was going to happen to him. Since they live down a lane off a main road, she feared he'd venture up to the road once too often (he had already done so by 4 months old).
Sadly, her intuition turned out to be well founded. At 5 months old, Wilbur died. It was just awful. The family who owned him had been out for much of the day, attending the funeral of the kids' Grandad. When they came home, Wilbur was nowhere to be seen. No.1's friend 'S' decided to go out looking for him, and what she found will probably haunt her forever. Wilbur had fallen from a tall tree, into a fork in the branches of another. Whether he was trying to be too ambitious or what, they will never know, but when he fell, he broke his spine. :( I have never heard of something like that happening to a cat before. The family called out a local vet, and it was him who told them what had happened, and put an unconscious Wilbur to sleep. We are still shocked and saddened - he was such a friendly, outgoing little cat.
Poor little Wilbur - I hope you have many fantastic adventures in your kitten heaven.
Continuing on a feline theme, Miss Georgie-cat has not had the best of months. Do you recall me mentioning in my Round Up of November last year, that we had a new cat-shaped neighbour? Well, Gabriel has continued to come into our garden on an almost daily basis for the past few months. He desperately wants Georgie to be his friend, but she is having none of it. He has been into the house several times, and I always shoo him out again, even though I'd really like to welcome him in. He is not a mean-natured cat, but his presence upsets Georgie so much, I feel disloyal even speaking to him!
Anyway, I was in the garden during April, and both cats were out there. I had to go and get the camera when I saw this:
This is about as close as they ever get, and is a typical scenario. Gabriel sits there, blinking at Georgie, and clearly trying to convey the message "pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease be my friend". Georgie either looks anywhere other than at him, or if she's really hacked off, belts him with one of her front paws. Sometimes he just wanders off, or occasionally he is sufficiently piqued to belt her back. But he doesn't give up; he invariably comes back the next day and tries again. You've got to admire his persistence - either he is very determined, or he has the brain and memory of a goldfish and can't remember the fact that she's already turned him down eleventy hundred times before.
Gabriel was the least of Georgie's worries towards the end of this month, when she became a bit poorly. She had a rather disturbingly upset tum, she felt very warm, and when her eyes started looking gummy, I whisked her off to the vet. He felt she might have got some sort of poisoning from eating something in the garden (she never goes further than our tiny garden) which had resulted in a stomach infection. A couple of jabs, some medicine, some special food and a hefty bill later, we brought her home. It's always awful trying to get her into the pet carrier to take her to the vet's, but when I go to put her in it to bring her home, she can't get in it quick enough. :D Anyway, thus far, she is looking a lot better. I am having a hard time trying to get the tablets into her, and have the scratches to prove it. Let's hope she makes a full recovery.
Have you, Dear Reader, experienced Royal Wedding fever this month? Is it just me getting on a bit, or is there far less hype about this one than the one between Prince William's parents, many moons ago? The kids are, of course, thrilled that they got to have a day off school. No.2's school had a 'red, white and blue day' which meant he didn't have to wear school uniform and could instead spend the day at school in jeans and a Liverpool shirt. That pleased him. No.1, ahead of the day, could not have been less interested. She is a teenager, and a teen's social life is far more important than any old Royal Wedding. But when it came to it, she watched it and, I think, enjoyed the pomp and ceremony that is a British Royal Occasion.
Wasn't Ms Middleton's dress lovely? As soon as I saw it, I remarked that it was "very Grace Kelly" ... and then the commentator said the same. My children are now of the seriously misplaced notion that I might know something about fashion (or at least old-fashioned style).
In the afternoon we all went to a local Party in the Park event - loads of live music, stalls and 'stuff' - and attended by loads of people.
I actually did something craftily creative this month. No.2's teacher is expecting a baby, and decided to take her maternity leave from Easter. No.2 had asked me to make a baby sock monkey for her, but I sort of forgot. Thus, 7th April saw me realise that the teacher was leaving the very next day, and I had to spend the whole day making her monkey. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!
Luckily my sock stash remains plentiful, so I managed to find some of the softest, cuddliest little socks going. I actually had to remind myself of monkey-making procedure - I got the socks in front of me and experienced a totally blank mind on how to turn them from socks to monkey! I turned to the wonderful tutorial provided by Web Goddess, and was soon reminded of just how to do it. The end of the day saw this little monkey appear:
No.2 said his teacher was thrilled with it. I hope the remainder of her pregnancy and the arrival of her little one goes really well.
I am still continuing on with my attempt to achieve 111 in 2011 (although I had a break from Flickr-ing this month after I got the news about Jindra. I just didn't have the 'oomph' to do much at all). I'll leave you with some of the shots I uploaded for the project this month:
My entry for 'Wind'
My entry for 'Unusual Angle'
My entry for 'New' (a birthday present for me this month - a new compact camera).
My entry for 'Low Viewpoint'