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Avery's a very proud grandad, and spends more time with the little ones than anyone else. So Lara and I, and to some extent Ace, can work in the garden - and canning, pickling, preserves; it feels as if I'm storing goodies up for the future when I make these. I have a large shelf of them in the kitchen and two more in the cellar.
I was doing a roaring trade in Chocolate Spread and Pumpkins - we had pumpkin pies, which the family seem to like as much as the lime pies, and toast with chocolate spread, preserved pumpkin, pickled pumpkin...
Oh yes, the IF - our family doctor, Mowlam Kewian, told me this was quite normal in a girl of Lazuli's age. She's not lonely, but an invisible friend somehow gives her something she needs. He said she would most likely grow out of it.
I just realised, Avery and I are both 91 now! We really don't feel that old, and are both very active in the garden and with our grandchildren. Ace - is Ace. He's not lazy, but simply enjoys sitting. And his general knowledge about what is on TV is amazing. Oh, and he seems to be losing his hair suddenly, since the quake.
Avery has Super Green Thumb, Fast Metabolism (he's getting skinnier as he gets older!) Never Dull and Office Hero.
I have Super Green Thumb, Speedy Cleaner, Observant, Fast Metabolism, Fireproof Homestead, Speedy Cleaner and Legendary Host.
And I think the cat's pregnant.
Avery writes: "The cats had one hyper and adventurous kitten, who we called Felix.
There was a pretty bad earthquake. Nobody in our family was hurt, but we lost all the pickles and preserves. Alice was gutted. All that work! She said she didn't care that her precious canning station was ruined, but I arranged to have a new one delivered. We can certainly afford it. The garden makes plenty of money, as we supply the neighbourhood with Plasma fruit and liquorice and of course the four Money trees help.
But I'm concerned about Alice. Not because of the pickles, but she looks - peaky. I think she was upset about the earthquake, and seems to no longer feel safe, and she seems to be worrying a lot about accidents happening to any member of her family."
"Let's go and visit Alan and Pepita soon. It seems like ages since we visited. Little Dale is a toddler now!"
"Of course, I'll ring them straight away."
"And the Hookinses... Larry isn't getting any younger, and I know he misses Pippsi very much."
She really does seem to be feeling her age. I wonder if I should ask the doctor to check her out? She's never been ill in her life... I called Mowlam Kewian, our family doctor, and he agreed to pop over after surgery.
It was a few days after the teens' birthdays. We had known Mowlam since the children were born.
"Alice is upstairs," I said. "She told me she to tell you she didn't need a doctor, but she would be happy to see you."
Ace was concerned when he saw Mowlam. "Hey! Are you here to see Mum? I heard about your mother. I'm sorry. She was a good woman. We've all been worried about Mum lately. She's vague and kind of - not altogether here."
"I know," he said. "I'll go and talk to her."
Of course, she wouldn't sit down, "I'm perfectly all right, I was just going to dust..."
"Alice, there isn't a speck of dust in your beautiful home!"
"I did hear Sooo had gone, your Mum. I am so sorry, Mowlam."
"We miss her terribly. It's been just her and us since Dad went in that awful beach accident. That's lifeguarding, I guess."
Alice was even sadder when Mowlam told her Larry Hookins had also died recently.
"Not as a result of the earthquake in either case, though. Just simple old age. When it's time for the Reaper, there's nothing we can do."
"Oh, no. I didn't know..."
She was quiet for a moment.
"I'm so so sorry, Mowlam," she said.
Then she gave a little gasp.
Then, just then... she passed. Poor Mowlam, who had only recently lost his own mother, was appalled. As a doctor he should be used to death but even so, it was a bit much.
"I am so sorry, Avery. There was nothing I could do."
I found myself comforting him. While he was comforting me.
Ace and Lara decided to leave us to our grief. It was time for University Challenge.
After that, we decided it was time to leave the house. It had been a happy life there with Alice, our garden our children, and grandchildren, but it had always been Alice's house, and now...
Alan and Pepita Hookins inherited Larry and Pippsi's lovely house, and now had a toddler called Dale.
The remaining Archers moved to a smaller house, overlooking the beach, and built a downstairs bedroom for Avery, who was finding it stairs more difficult.
To be continued