watervole: (Default)
 I'm absolutely knackered.

We're in the process of putting Molly's house on the market.  We'd love to keep it as it holds many happy memories, but the family member living in Kent would not be able to afford to buy the rest out and those living in Dorset and elsewhere can't live in it as it's too far from work and family.

So, it goes up for sale, although my
 brother-in-law will continue to live there until we find a buyer, so the house won't be empty.

It's an old house.   The oldest part of it has massive thick stone walls and 500 years ago it was a grain store for the mill next door.  Later parts are half-timbered and have been everything from a forge to a pub.  In the last century it was a dairy and you can still see features like the dip well in the garden that was used for cooling milk churns.

Every generation to live there has made changes and additions. Molly did a lot of research into the history of the house - even gave a talk to members of the local history society.  

Her talk ended with: "Future owners of this house and large cottage garden will undoubtedly continue to alter things just as each family has in the past."

Which is a rather nice way of saying that future owners should not feel that they have to preserve a fossil from the past. They will doubtless do revolutionary things like introducing central heating and an upstairs toilet and other modern amenities...

We took the estate agent's advice and did massive de-cluttering and cleaning and moved various items of furniture. We cleaned all the windows, which made an amazing difference all on its own.

But most of our four days in Kent were spent in the garden. Molly's garden is very big and a real delight. It's an informal, partly wild garden that contains many interesting varieties of plants. She was a real plants-woman. There are many different varieties of garden plants like hellibores, geums, geraniums, pulmonarias, etc. as well as wild flowers like purple loosestrife, honesty, foxgloves, yellow loosestrife, primroses and more.

She managed all of this (apart from mowing the lawn and cutting the hedge) until she was in her mid-eighties and suffering from loss of vision and anemia. She loved her garden. People used to ask her why she didn't move somewhere with a smaller garden, but she always replied that it was the garden that kept her going.

The last year or two, she also had a gardener (Not the lawn and hedge man), a real gardener, the kind who can identify plants like burgenia, london pride and three different varieties of mint.

Sadly, last week he got a full time gardening job somewhere else and can't do the Dairy House garden any longer. And on only two hours a fortnight, he was only able to do a reasonable job - some sections were getting a bit overgrown.

Advertising for a gardener has so far produced two applications without the necessary plant knowledge - one was honest enough to admit she didn't after she'd looked at the garden and the other failed the phone interview in spite of trying to claim she could do it. Her definition of a weed would have removed virtually every self-seeded plant in the garden. Farewell love-in-a-mist, forget-me-not, etc.

So, in lieu of anyone else, Richard and I spent many hours weeding. Because we do know our plants. Molly taught us. Many of the plants in my own garden came from her and she loved showing me round her garden and talking about the different things growing there.

It's June and the garden looks fabulous.

I do so hope that the eventual buyer is a keen gardener (really, they'd be crazy to buy the place if they aren't). I'll not have any regrets if the house is changed, much though I love it, but it would really hurt if that wonderful garden was turned into a couple of tennis courts and a swimming pool.


watervole: (Default)
 Molly died peacefully this afternoon.

I don't know what most people do when a loved one dies, but my first job was to phone the London School of Anatomy!

I'd already done most of my mourning, although  I'm still a little in shock - it's only two weeks since she was diagnosed with cancer.

I'm being practical and getting on with stuff.  Lots of paperwork and phone calls ahead of me.

Everything from her tax return to cancelling her pension.

There's a reason she trusted me with this job.  I'm the practical one - and so was she.
watervole: (Default)
 We dug up some hellibores from Molly's garden last week and they're now in our back garden.  They seem to be settling in, in spite of being transplanted while in flower.

Plants are good things to remember people by.  They need a degree of tlc to do well and the act of looking after them reminds you of the giver.

Molly and I shared a love of gardening - indeed, she helped to increase my own interest in the subject. Even in her eighties and nearly blind, she was still growing most of her own vegetables.  She's one of the reasons I have an allotment.

We've also adopted a little mini-rock garden of sedums in a shallow container.  It was made for her by my husband when he was a boy.  For half her life it reminded her of him, and now it will remind us of her.

She was a wonderfully pragmatic person. (I'm speaking in the past tense, even though she isn't technically dead yet.  I do not believe I will ever speak to her again.)

Entorien (my daughter-in-law) sums it up well in her description of her last meeting with Molly - http://entorien.livejournal.com/518028.html

Molly has no religious beliefs, she doesn't fear death and she wishes the doctors would let her get on with the business of dying.

She did the paperwork several years ago to donate her body to science and we've made sure all the doctors are aware of that.
watervole: (Bloody Torchwood)
 I am rapidly learning far more than I ever wanted to know about lasting powers of attorney, inheritance tax and the job of an executor.  I suspect I'm going to have to use the first very soon, and the later two a lot sooner than I would like...

Bad Stuff

Feb. 16th, 2010 10:31 am
watervole: (Thoughtful)
Was filtered, now deliberately public.  Some of you will remember this post from just before Xmas.  Simon Proctor claimed to need money for medical expenses to help a relative.  (his wife has family in Sri Lanka, so it sounded plausible)  He borrowed more money off us after Xmas and claimed that he had money coming in from a commission that would enable him to repay us very quickly.

By the time of the 4th request we got suspicious and refused to lend him any more.  The next day, I phoned his mother and asked her if there was a problem. She almost broke down in tears.  He's borrowed an enormous amount from her - well into five figures.  She's an 80-year old pensioner and she's now got so little money left that she can't even afford to use the heater in her little greenhouse or go out for an outing with her friends.  (We've just mailed her a cheque.  She didn't ask for it, but she's getting it anyway.)

Regular readers of this LJ will know how much  I like my mother-in-law.  She's a really nice person and made me feel welcome right from the start.  We have interests in common - she started my interest in needlework and she's a keen gardener.

I've given her the phone number of a debt counselling charity to pass onto her other son (after checking it myself to make sure you could get through to a friendly human being without a long wait).  He's a total computer-phobic, which means the numerous pages of advice/help/Excel files for people in debt are not available to him.  All the same, he may need hitting over the head with a sledgehammer to be made to use a computer in a local library.  He's in total denial about the hole he's in and he's a very plausible liar (Molly doesn't know how much debt he's in, but we both suspect a very large figure as his bank won't allow him a cheque book or a credit card).  She thinks he's probably borrowed from loan sharks and is now paying ever increasing amounts of interest.  Neither of us have any idea as to what originally started the debt off. He has work and so does his wife (but they have totally separate finances).

I'm angry about the money that we'll never see again - he knew when he borrowed it that we'd saved it up for a specific project and that we needed it back by Easter.  But I'm far more angry about the money he's borrowed from Molly.
watervole: (cross-stitch)
Richard's successfully uploaded the text.  (after many attempts and corrections).  Now we have to sort the cover out.  Don't know if we'll be able to finish that today as we're gaming this evening.

I don't know how long it takes to print a copy once it's all uploaded. (Partly because I don't know whether getting an ISBN is a fast or slow process)

Still, we're moving in the right direction.
watervole: (books)
Richard and I are trying to complete my mother-in-law's book (Art Needlework and Embroidery Transfers 1870-1970)  in time for her birthday on May 4th.

We've been working on it off and on for well over a year, but other things have kept getting in the way.

It's been done in brief flurries of activity - "Molly, was this Celtic transfer produced to accompany Liberty's 'Celtic' range, or was it something completely separate?",  "Molly, these embroidery patterns for military crests produced during the war - were the ones in this photograph available after the war?", "Molly, was this embroidered tablecloth stitched in Maderia?"

I started off knowing nothing at all about the subject, which in some ways has been useful as I'm asking questions about things that are ambiguous to me in the text, but might have been clear to an expert. Except that Molly is probably the only expert!  She's done a lot of research that could never be duplicated now, as a lot of the people she interviewed have since died.

Ironically, the project has also been slowed down by modern technology.  Knowing that one can improve the quality of many of the pictures makes it seem a crime not to do so, especially when the photos are of beautiful pieces of colourful embroidery.  And, of course, the ability to do really clever things with layout to get the pictures right next to the text would make it a shame to have all the pictures clumped together.  (And doing layout work is far more time-consuming than you would ever believe possible unless you've done it yourself.)

Still, we're getting closer.  I've now done the final proof-read on the text. Even on my fourth pass through the book, I was still finding things I'd missed.  The more familiar you get with the subject matter, the more you pick up on details you'd previously have overlooked.

Today, we're hoping to do the cover. Fingers crossed.  We've already chosen and cleaned up our cover photograph (a lovely piece of Art Noveau embroidery - stitched from a transfer outline, of course)  We've still got to get the title added to that and do the spine and the back cover.  We have to sort out the ISBN and get the whole thing in a form that will upload successfully.  Richard's on attempt five or six trying to get the text to upload. The format has to be exactly right.  We're publishing via Lulu, which means that we'll be able to sell the book as paperback or download.

It's going to be touch and go.  Realistically, I don't think we'll complete the cover today.  We've got the text for the back, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Fingers crossed!

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Judith Proctor

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