Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mountains of tools

I popped in to the place Geoff used to work, to collect his tools. He said they would know which were his. And there I was happily thinking it would be a couple of spanners etc. I understand spanners and screw drivers. Hah! They needed a trolley thing to shift the 3 tool boxes to my car. And one is so heavy that it took 2 big men to lift. It will stay in the car until my son gets home. I need never buy another tool in the next 100 years. Now if only I knew what they were for or how to use them. Sigh. I may have to take photos and stick them on the blog for identification. I love tools. Things that make other things happen. Machinery, I suppose, like my craft, woodwork and sewing things. Now I have the grown up stuff for doing essential things as well. I think. I do like the little drawers and it all looks very interesting. I could fix things. I could learn. Maybe I will build that wooden house I dream about one day. I think I saw a BIG saw...............

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Friends are one of life's greatest blessings. I am reminded more every day how amazing they are, and how they are there at times when you need them most. Not because they have to be, but because they choose to be. I am so thankful that I have always seemed to meet the right people..... the ones who stick, who have become lifelong friends. Someone reminded me the other day just how many of them have been standing alongside me. I am very lucky indeed. They are also the ones who love me enough to say stop when they need to, or who raise questions I may not want to hear. They are not going anywhere. True real friends, ones I can call at 2 in the morning. Some I have already called at 2. Sigh. Thank you all.

My daughter says I always sound so sad in my recent posts. I don't mean to. I can assure you I do not drag myself around looking like a prophet of doom all the time. I laugh, have fun, do weird things and heavens, I wish I was in New Zealand, where I am supposed to be right now. I should have arrived at the start of this week. Oh well. NZ is not going anywhere, and I have every intention of arriving in the bottom righthand corner of the map one day soon. I am not sure if NZ is ready for me though. We will see.
PS that picture says.... friends are like angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


[Middle English matrone, from Old French, from Latin matrona, from mater, matr-, mother; see mater- in Indo-European roots.]

matron - a married woman (usually middle-aged with children) who is staid and dignified
married woman, wife - a married woman; a man's partner in marriage

matron - a wardress in a prison
wardress - a woman warder
matron - a woman in charge of nursing in a medical institution
head nurse
nurse - one skilled in caring for young children or the sick (usually under the supervision of a physician)
adult female, woman - an adult female person (as opposed to a man); "the woman kept house while the man hunted"

Well, that says it all. Hospitals need matrons. The root of the word means mother. The old ways are sometimes better.

D Day

Doctor Day. Today I met with one of the consultants who treated Geoff to ask the questions that have been burning holes in my brain for the past few months. He was a nice man. He talked and listened. I talked and listened. Did I get the answers I am looking for? Some, though not all. Did it make a difference? Yes, I suppose so in a way, because I now have a face for the name. It is bizarre that here in the UK, it is almost impossible to get to speak to the consultant in charge of your husband/wife/child's case. There seems to be no effort on the part of any doctor to approach family to keep them aware of events, and it is up to the family to try to track down doctors. So being kept in the dark is the norm.

A very wise doctor once told me that the secret of medical science was to learn to trust instinct when everything else seemed illogical. He had learnt over 45 years of practice, that instinct, whether it be his own, the patient's or the patient's family, had rarely in his experience, been proved wrong. The question is, how do doctors nowadays, get the time to talk to the patient or their family, when the only communication is basically to tick boxes on endless forms and monitor beeping things? Even the taking of the pulse, blood pressure, temperature etc is done by machine. Drugs are administered by pumps or IV, and you can change those without even seeing the patient, or while talking to someone else. Food is delivered and removed by outside agencies. You can sit at a control desk like the Starship enterprise, and just read the data, without touching or seeing the patient. Even consultant's ward rounds only happen once or twice a week, and that is with an entourage who the consultants talk to more than to the patient.

So, without social interaction, how do you learn instinct? The simple answer is that you don't. It has to be on the forms or it is not there. They need scientific proof. So in Geoff's case, the test results say no infection, so there is none. Ahhhh, but there was. It was hiding. What a surprise they must have had when they operated and the infection that was not there suddenly was. I spoke to him every day. My instinct was screaming there is something radically wrong from the time he felt ill. The doctors facts and figures said no infection so not that bad, he is ok. How do you quantify instinct? Experience, I suppose, and acquired wisdom. Feelings. Emotions. All the things that science has no time or place for. How sad is that. And how incredibly dangerous for people who go into hospitals and are just numbers or beds, or conditions. The "AVR in bed 3" is actually a man, a father, a husband, a colleague, a friend, a brother, a son. The "MVR in bed 7 " is someone's beloved granny. See what I mean?

Blinded by science, you lose sight of the humanity. If you have not taken the trouble to talk to someone, and find out who they are, how do you know that they are quiet people, who hate complaining or making a fuss? Who would never ring the bell, no matter what because they don't want to disturb the nurse? Who have high pain thresholds and are stoic to the extreme?
What is this post about? In a way, I think I have discovered the real problem behind the NHS today. It doesn't need more paperwork. It doesn't need more technology. It needs more talking and listening. And watching people not screens. It needs a "mother" type person in each ward, to talk to the patients, find out who they are, what they are like, who will touch them and listen to them, their fears and hopes. Someone who can then add to the scientific notes things like..... "Will never complain. Check for pain. " "Not eating.... can't swallow and breathe". The NHS needs some old fashioned "kiss it better" type of medicine that every mother knows how to dispense.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I can grin again

What a difference a day makes. I am starting to feel vaguely human again, and the sun shone, so that always makes a difference. Hmmmm...... it could also have been the fact that it is the weekend. I like weekends.
David went to watch Matt play rugby with Peter this afternoon, and had a really good time, and saw quite a few friends there too. And I made a couple of trips to Louise's to feed the cat. It is always hungry. It seems to have done something to or on the new door mat carpet thing. Oops. I have never had a cat. I have no idea what they get up to, but this one is seriously put out that its parents have gone away. And it definitely yowls.
And I saw the babes as well, which is always great. Now that they are at playschool most days, their artwork is threatening to swamp the house, but they are so proud of it all, and they are starting to talk about the other children there, and it is hysterical. Miriam has new "staple icers" for her bike. Something she is very proud of. And Chris had his first experience of going off with friends to a party at McDonalds. Jackie was moping, as it was the first time one of the babes had gone out alone. They are growing up so quickly. I hardly saw Bekah, as she was on the computer playing a game. Now why does that seem familiar???

Friday, September 22, 2006


I feel pathetic. I am the real weak and feeble archetype right now. I look like Rudolph, and sound like someone with consumption. Voice thready and a croaky whisper. Just charming. I was up at some unearthly hour to take Louise and James to Rugby to catch their train to Glasgow en route to Jura, and then did the food shop with Mum. The highlight of the day was coffee at Waitrose. That was it. I was ready for bed. I had to go in to the hospital to collect some notes this afternoon, and of course, it was in the middle of monsoon like rain. What else. Naturally, it got worse as I reached the point of no return, midway between the car and the building. I was a drowned rat. I do believe my skirt was transparent at this point, but I really could not have cared.

I had a text from someone saying that they hoped things were looking up for me. A kind sentiment, but rotten timing. I decided that silence was a better option than the screech I was tempted to send in reply. I have not found a job yet, I have not won the lotto, I am as sick as a parrot, I could pass exams to become a consultant in cardiogenic pulmonory oedema, my house is a tip, my mother is sick too, and my son needs a lift home at 10pm, when all I want to do is crawl into bed. I need to put an exhaust bandage on one of the cars, and the allotment needs serious work. Paperwork is still a mountain to plow through, and there is the inquest sometime in the future to look forward to. Shall I go on???Looking up??????????????????? Hah. I wish. If you are the person who sent the text, then this is really not personal, it is just reality this minute, right now. I am sure I will be rational after some sleep. And back on my quest to be nice. Having a cold clearly turns me into a fishwife. (That is such a nice old description, fishwife.) And screeching is good in cyberspace, because no-one can hear.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I have a cold. In fact we all have colds, and a particularly vicious type too. I feel like death and just want to lie in a darkened room, which mother is doing as I speak. I need to be fully functioning, and I am not. It was an effort to sit and sand in the lounge this afternoon, but I just have a few things left to do before the painting starts. My head is pounding so that is it for today. And, by the way, I never get sick. I do not do colds. This is obviously a mistake.

David and I took the carpet to the allotment to cover the weeds. Well, everyone should have a carpetted allotment. It looks more homely. Then I thought re the wind which was threatening to topple the bean stakes, and decided that if it took off in the wind, everything would get smashed, so it is rolled to the side till the tail of the hurricane departs. It is so humid right now. And we have another huge bag of beans to cook. I am off to try weak and feeble.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Out and about

I have whizzed all over town today. First in a lengthy pursuit of those bag things you put stuff into in the washing machine. I did not want my cardigans to stretch to 26ft wide. No-one in the first 4 shops knew what I was talking about. They clearly like 26ft cardigans. But I found them in the end, and can report happily that the cardigan is normal. Amazing how little it takes to keep me happy.
I also got to play with Freddie today. He is just gorgeous. I went to see what they need me to sew for his room, and then we went to Podington with Liz for lunch. I pushed the stroller round the garden centre, which was great fun. He loved the windmills and water features. Strollers have moved on from the McClaren striped buggies I had in my day.
What else........ after dropping Adele and Freddie, we went to Kettering to look for skirting board makers, and then stopped at her place to pick up the wood from her old cupboard for me to saw. It is better than stuff I can see in the shops. Then I popped in to see Louise, then Julia who is off to her daughter's wedding on Saturday, and home to sort the family before David went off to help at Crusaders. Jean popped in with rhubarb for Mum, and was very excited by my saw. I showed her how to cut shapes and she is planning "play time" soon. Louise also wants to try. Annette is home again after another 3 days in hospital and the kidney stone is still in place, so that is not wonderful. And we are expecting the tail end of the hurricane to arrive in the next 2 days, so it will be hot and very windy.

It was wonderful to do ordinary things today and to be able to keep the paperwork to a minimum for a change. I am going to be a slug tonight and veg out in front of the TV.

Oh yes, I meant to tell you about an amazing place to go and stay if you are thinking of going to the French Alps this winter. Check this out! It is not far from Geneva and belongs to friends of mine. Looks perfect to me!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bits and pieces

Hello. I was going to have a bit of a moan about people who never respond to text messages. Then I decided that it was not worth the effort and really not that important in the greater scheme of things, and I am trying to be a nice person so must shut up.

I have just been sitting outside the local hospital for over an hour waiting for Mum to have her routine blood tests, which take less than 5 mins to do. These are no longer done in surgeries, and you can't pre-book appointments, so the wait is horrendous, parking difficult, especially for old people who can't walk far, and just another frustrating waste of time.

The beans continue to be prolific. I picked more yesterday and did a bit more weeding too.

On the wood front, I went to a specialist supplier, and they didn't have anything, but knew what I wanted so will see what they can do. Very convenient that the man I spoke to happened to be Swiss. It was a nice drive through the back roads of middle England, though. Then I trawled the internet and discovered that B and Q 's parent company own a percentage of the shops I go to in Switzerland, so I wrote to the head office to see if they can introduce a new line here. You never know. It is worth a try.

It is house group tonight and we are starting on a new book. I have read it before and it is excellent. "If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat" by John Ortberg. Not new, but new to the house group. What a lovely group of people they are. My house group. And it is great to get to know them really well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Where has the time gone?

  1. My hands
  2. Friends to celebrate with
  3. Unexpected visits
  4. Books that challenge me
  5. Love

I don't know where the past 2 weeks have gone since we got home. Switzerland is almost a distant memory, and the real world is here.

Jean is celebrating her birthday today, and yesterday we gathered in her garden for tea and her famous scones. What a great way to end the summer, sitting in the sun chatting and watching the babes play! Happy Birthday Jean!

Last night I had a call from a friend in SA to tell me her Mum had died suddenly after an op, and it was uncannily like the same experience I had, and no doubt millions more have had, standing at a bedside waiting. Thankfully I knew what she was saying and feeling. Hopefully it helped her a little too. What a year this has been.

Autumn is approaching now, and my garden is dying back. The roses are having a late surge though, and the apples have been gathered and frozen. It is dark much earlier and Christmas decorations are already in some shops. That is pushing things a bit, I have to say. Parts of this year seem to have pushed the pause button, and there seem to be vast stretches of time I have lost. I am not ready for summer to end, I suppose, but nature has a way of moving ahead, and I will have to fast forward my life and catch up with it.

I am so lucky to have the most amazing family and friends around me, who take time to call, email, visit or text me (SMS to you foreigners) regularly, no matter how busy their lives are. Knowing you are there is the most sustaining blessing. Thank you everyone.

So............. enough now. I need to start on the next round of paperwork and calls. It has got to end sometime soon. I hope!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I have been to try and get more wood like the type I used in Switzerland. I can't find anything. Use MDF they say. No, I don't think so. I want the kind of wood I have nearly used up. Groan. I KNEW I should have brought more back. And the DIY places in Switzerland have an amazing array of railings, like for balconies in wood, and there are books around on how to use them to make things. Like cows. I feel the need for a cow. I will have to go and search for a real wood supplier and see what they can supply.

I am still sanding, though I have bought a mask at last, to try and cut down on the sawdust I consume.The sun has been shining today after a grey day yesterday. Nothing much to report except that we are off to Jean for a birthday tea now. I will return.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I have been sawing. All day. And sanding. My kitchen looks like an archeological dig, and I have have a tree's worth of sawdust inside me. I walk with a cloud of dust as I move and every surface is covered with the stuff. I have broken 2 blades, worn out one, and I had to stop when the motor of the scrollsaw got too hot. I am sure I have mentioned before that I tend to be obsessive. Once I start doing something I can't stop till I burn out (or burn out the motor), or run out of wood.

It is also true that practice makes things simpler. When I start sawing, I tend to be hesitant, and therefore slow, and as the day goes by, I get faster, which makes the movement of the wood easier, and the lines smoother, so there is less of the sanding to do. The slower you go the more mistakes you make, so it is easier to keep going than to rest and start again. Life would be immeasurably easier if I had a permanent workshop, of course, and somewhere to keep the tools in an organised fashion. It takes me ages to find the bits I need, and I still do not have a clue where my glue gun is. Neither can I find any drill bits for my Dremel. I also had to go and buy a small hammer, because it is physically impossible to use a big one with 1cm pins.

So, now I have to finish the sanding, and then paint what I have done so far, and draw the patterns on wood for the next wave. But it has been fun, and I am really pleased with what I have done. So far!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another week gone by

and I have no idea where the time goes. I am setting up my scrollsaw today so I can get on with all the ideas I have in my head. I can just see that my house will be covered with dust again, but the creative urge is there, so has to be indulged. And I have sewing to do and more quilts to plan.
Mum and I have just done the shopping at Waitrose, and I should be blitzing the house, checking the allotment and picking beans, sorting cupboards etc, and I am not. It can wait. I will check in later, provided I still have fingers in place.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Computers and the internet can drive you round the bend. I spent half the afternoon trying to email a letter with an attached file. This is standard normal stuff that I have done a zillion times. Simple. Today it was not possible. The internet connection will "take 10 days to settle down, and please do not phone the helpline unless you have been off line for at least an hour". What???? I nearly took an axe to the !*^%*!! thing. Great when it works, but a nightmare when it doesn't.

It was book club last night, and I did not distinguish myself at all. I had read none of the books I was meant to read. Sigh. It was all that mountain air, you see. When I got into bed, I opened the book and immediately fell asleep. I took 7 with me, and brought them all back unread. I am a failure. At house group tonight, we were talking about how the conversation at book club has changed over the years. Now we discuss the size of the type and the whiteness of the pages, which make the writing easier to read. And pass around the specs so we can see what we are trying to quote. Hysterical. And the size and weight of the book, which will inevitably crash land on our noses when we fall asleep reading, necessitating plastic surgery. I have also got a reputation for drowning books. They dry out very well in a fan oven i have found, but never close again. I have replaced quite a few over the years. Reading in the bath is a particular favourite of mine, but then I fall asleep there too.
Ok.... time to try reading a bit. I am yawning already.

Monday, September 11, 2006

So much to be thankful for

  1. Holiday memories (and photos)
  2. Welcome from friends
  3. Knowing how much I am cared for
  4. The internet
  5. A happy son

I am back!!!!

Hello world, I am back on the internet. I cannot tell you how inconvenient it has been to be off line, or how much I now realise I have come to depend on the easy access to information it provides. I am looking for a job urgently, and have not been able to download forms etc. I need to research vacancies, and can't without the internet.

The need to find something that will pay the bills is pressing, so that is what I have been doing for the past week. I was offered a job at a local secondary school last week after an interview, but the pay was not enough to make a dent in what I need, so I have had to decline it. But it was nice to be offered the job, I have to say. A confidence builder.

The trip back was ok, but very long, and we finally arrived home at 1am on Monday morning. I started looking through the mountain of post, and then unpacked the car, then discovered no internet, and then it was 5am, so I didn't bother to go to bed. I spent the day sorting things and making phone calls and sending off letters etc, and finally dozed off while a friend was here at 8.30.

The whole week was really about sorting David and his school options, after (not unexpected) rather mediocre results. He has had a traumatic year, and we decided that the best option was for him to redo his AS year, and settle down. So that is what he is doing. He is very happy about it, and so am I. He needs another year, and he has grown up so much in the past 2 months.

Yesterday, he and I went to the allotment to tackle the unbelievable weeds with Jean's help, and we have made a huge dent in what has to be done. And we have beans in abundance. They are wonderful, and there are so many! A little robin followed us about looking for worms as we dug the soil, and it was totally unafraid of us.

So............. I am back in the real world now. I would prefer to be in Switzerland, of course, but it is good to see my friends. And I can't avoid the tough stuff forever. It has to be dealt with. And I just have to keep believing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I have not fallen off the edge of the world

I just have NO INTERNET at home. You would think that BT could manage to change the name on the account without cancelling the broadband. They promised to leave everything in place. They didn't. And to add insult to injury, it will take till NEXT MONDAY to restore. They have clearly employed moles to dig another tunnel. Or something.
I cannot tell you how ticked off I am, and here I am in a friend's office hammering out an explanation of my silence. I will be back. On Monday. Or you will possibly hear the shriek of fury from New Zealand.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Home tomorrow

This was the view from the garden yesterday. Amazing, isn't it?? And that is exactly the colour of the sky.

I went out early this morning to see the sun rise over the mountain. So here it is, with a halo! De Hahnen used to be Engelberg (angel mountain) and there is apparently a move to rename it Engelberg. I think that would be perfect. The sun reflected in the clouds makes it even more beautiful. Can you see the angel wings?

Well, tomorrow we leave for home. I don't want to go , I freely admit, and those of you I speak to will know this. This is an incredible place, and being with my sister and her family (she laughed at that.... Peter and Nax) is just what we needed. Reality awaits. But, we need to start on the next phase of our lives now, and David has just one year of school left. So I will report in once we get home, and unpack, and do the washing, etc etc etc. My friends will be there. That will be good. And I have a zillion photos I can look at and remember the peace I find here. I will come back soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

50 Today!!

My little sister is now 50. Half a century. The fact that I am older is irrelevant. Today has been another stunning day, and we all went to Eienwaldli for an early lunch together, while Anita came and decorated the house with helium filled balloons, and messages we had all written for her. We had fun with the helium too. I think it must be a second or third childhood.

Talking about lunch.... the restaurant helpfully informed us that they had english menus as well, so I had a look. I was about to order a schwein schnitzel. Pork schnitzel, as we all know. Then I saw the translation. Pig scraps, breaded. We fell about. I absolutely refused to eat pig scraps, breaded or not. Marge had a large cordon bleu of the pig. We kept gazing off into space then muttering pig scraps... breaded!

Marge and Peter walked back with the dogs while Mum, David and I came back to help Anita with the decorations, and she and Tony also brought the garden arbour Marge had wanted, which they bought together with Peter for her. Toni has been assembling it at the Bellevue for the past week. He did mention at one point that they should put it all back in the box and wrap it up for Marge to put together. It was beautifully decorated, and the cakes were out, and glasses ready to celebrate. Anita did a great job. Marge was delighted with it all.

Her friends popped in all afternoon, and we sat in the garden while the babes played. Here she is with Anita in the arbour thing. That balloon, by the way, was one of 2 Anita put in the arbour from her and from Peter. Peter's one took off almost immediately without Anita noticing, and then the other one flew away too. It went straight up and over the mountain, and we could see it for ages. I think she has had a wonderful day, and she deserves it. She is a great sister. I am very lucky! ( She has been snoozing on the couch since 8pm.... a sign of age?)