Monday, September 28, 2009

Is it Monday already?

I am still here and am indeed alive, if not kicking. I have had a few emails and calls to see why I have not posted anything, (hello Marge, Mum, Sue, David, Chris....)but the honest answer is that I have very little to report. Last week was somewhat "lost", and I seemed to have become intimately acquainted with the couch once again. Never mind the napping. We now officially qualify for a PhD in napping, people. The research has been done. In spades.

As one delightful friend said - but Linds, your thoughts are still functioning and you can write about them or words to that effect.... hahahahahahahah. My thoughts. Hmmm. Yes. My thoughts. I don't know if the world is quite ready for the thoughts of the present in full technicolour.

What have I been thinking about?

Oh, just the inane things like the meaning of life, the anatomy of pain, the prospects for the future, the facets of friendship, the futility of challenging bureaucracy, the world's economic woes, political shenanigans, legal quandries, self-management of medical conditions, the essence of widowhood, balancing parenthood with me-hood, acceptance, resignation, finding a path through a strangely different life, dreams of travel, household repairs, labels, granny-hood, the challenges and certainties of faith, alone-ness, frugality, identity and justification. How's that for starters? I do not have a simple mind. It is very complicated. Very.

It is a vortex at the moment. And all the colours, textures and possibilities of the above are spinning together to form a rainbow of such depth and complexity, and every now and then it stops to allow a single strand of thought time to detach and develop, and then off we go again. Spinning wildly. So many layers. No wonder the napping has been world class. I exhaust myself.

How do I stop? How can I slow the mind down?

Coming up in the next 6 weeks we have (in addition to the normal things in life):
  1. More acupuncture
  2. More medical appointments
  3. A 2 week break
  4. Endless forms to fill in
  5. Fence to be built
  6. School meeting - the final one which will end with me being fired on medical grounds
  7. Yet more medical appointments
  8. Double inquest for others who died the same way Geoff died
  9. Calls from the Coroner and the other families
  10. Re-opening of his inquest?
  11. Legal battles with hospitals and valve manufacturers

The next 2 months look just peachy. PEACHY, I tell you. And before I know where I am, it will be Christmas and 2009 will take its place in the annals of history. My history.

My word for the year is HOPE. The words I would use to sum up 2009 so far range from "change" to " reluctant acceptance" coupled with "pain" and "perseverance". Hope remains. Always. The dreams too.

My head hurts. Right now it all hurts.

And let me consign one myth to oblivion. So often I have been told - "You are strong. You can cope. God never sends you more (stress, trouble, heartache, problems....insert applicable word here) than you can bear". Garbage. He does. Of course He does. WAY more. It is the only way we are brought to our knees, discard our superman cloaks and turn TO Him, and say " I can't do it any more. I need help. Please." Then, and only then, when we are broken and recognise our human frailties, can He do His work. After we acknowledge we can't do anything in our own strength. Believe me. I know. This is especially hard for those of us with Superwoman tendencies. The do-ers and fixers in life. Admitting defeat is not an easy option. So it takes us longer to get to the point where we fold. And then, finally we learn the meaning of surrender, and accept the offer to carry our burdens for us. Trust. Faith. Truth.

However. I do not want, nor am I looking for, sympathy or pity. I am still me, the bouncy one, and the one who remains optimistic and buoyant and positive. I will get through each thing as it arrives on my doorstep. One by one. It is life. Simply life. Sometimes it becomes slightly more tumultuous than other times. I am an expert in plodding on. And my sense of humour is intact, thank heavens.

So now I am off to the couch once again. I am yawning my head off. Does acupuncture make you sleepy?? Did I mention I had another session this morning, complete with an additional needle in the ear? I need a snooze, anyway. And I do believe Murder, She Wrote is about to start. Hang on, Jessica! I am on my way!

My life is very exciting, you know..........

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yet more bits and pieces.....

Well. The past few days can be summed up by saying that it has not been fun. But enough of that.

It is a grey day here, and a sweet young friend gave birth to a 9lb 4oz baby girl this morning after 2 days of labour, followed by a Caesarian. Thank God for modern medicine. This is Margaret (the garden fairy) and Derek's new granddaughter I am talking about, and I have been checking my phone on the hour every hour for news. Sleep has been somewhat illusive, you see. What a great cause for celebration!

I have friends from South Africa about to come and visit this morning, so that is a wonderful distraction too. I haven't seen them for years, so we will have a lot of catching up to do.

This is a post of random bits, because, to be honest, I cannot concentrate on a thing. The focus is gone right now. It has been gone for a couple of days. All I have actually achieved is a little quilting, and a loaf of that Nutty Wheat bread baked (and forgotten in the oven for 15 extra minutes, which says it all) and that is it.

Ah well...... things can only get better!

Monday, September 21, 2009


If anyone tries to tell you that acupuncture does not hurt, they are LYING. Needles going in = no problem. Turn the needles?????? BIG problem. And the joyful news is that I had 7 needles in today and there will be more next time. MORE.

That is all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A lazy Sunday.....

Everyone is changing their templates to ones with a more autumnal feel. I, on the other hand, have been autumnal all year. I could just be ahead of my time.

I had plenty of great intentions and did absolutely nothing about them whatsoever. Nothing. So I hereby announce that I may just be totally unique and decide to have a summer template next. I mean for heaven's sake... I have had SNOW up there above this ALL YEAR. Enough is enough. I need a change.

Today, though, has been sunny and stunning. The light is soft and golden, and with the trees starting to turn colour it has just been so beautiful. And I would upload a photo now, if I could but like the rest of you, I can't. Blogger is broken. Sigh. Fix it, Blogger people! Now would be good.

I have had a very lazy day today. I fell asleep on the couch last night, woke at midnight and toppled into bed and fell asleep immediately. So I lay there this morning watching the Great North Run from under the duvet. My admiration for the 50 000 runners knows no bounds, but there is something really satisfying about watching them exert themselves from the comfort of my bed, with the coffee at hand. I knew I had a Blessing service for my friends' baby to go to this afternoon, so I paced myself. This is a first, so I hope you are impressed. The pacing bit. The service was lovely.

A really great idea they had was to have a tree painted about A1 size with her name above it, and on every pew, there was a small pad of flower sticky notes, and leaf sticky notes. On the leaves, we wrote our names, and on the flower, we wrote a hope, prayer or wish for the little girl, and then after the actual blessing, we all went up to the tree, and stuck them in place. Her Mum is going to stick them all down permanently, so she has a tree of love for her wall, and the names of all the people who will be watching over her as she grows up. Lovely. She was as good as gold, and so help me, did not screw up her little face and wail when she saw me.

More randomness. That fence I mentioned a day or 2 ago? The one I thought was being replaced? Yes. Well. It turns out that it is actually my responsibility. **********. Bother. I actually had to go and check the deeds to be sure. Yep. I now have to go and get a quote for a new fence. I can assure you that there are many many many things I would rather consider. Fences do not even make page 497766943996465472 on the list of Desirable Things To Purchase. Fences???????? Vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, laptop and other sundry bits are up there on the list. Fences are absolutely not. You may just detect that I am not altogether thrilled. You would be right.

Anyway. That can wait a day or so. I need to adjust the mind. And I have that date with the needles in the morning.

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It is quiet here now......

So here I am rattling around in an empty house once again. The last time I was here alone was before David's Easter break in April. And guess what? My neighbour has just taken down her old rickety shed which used to be on my boundary. So it is gone. Now I am waiting for the new fence to go up. Soon, I hope.

Where was I....

David is back at uni. The house he is sharing with 3 others is actually double the size I thought it would be, and very nice indeed. Not far from the campus either. The kitchen is huge, and there is a reasonable lounge as well for them to sit in. So often there is no "gathering" room or space at all, so this is great. And it has a little garden too, which a garden service sees to, so even better. The others had not arrived when he got there, but after getting him stocked up with vital essentials like food and cleaning stuff, I left him to settle in and see his friends, and I headed off to Andrew and Ann, and little Missy, of course.

She took one look at me when I walked in and said hello, screwed up her little face and wailed. In fact, every time she looked at me, she wailed. Sigh. Just as well I was prepared for this. The look was one of total measuring up and being found wanting. However, by the time I said goodbye to her this morning, I had managed to get a grin or 2. And she did sit on my lap for all of 5 minutes, providing her Mum or her Dad were right there next to me. She has grown so much and changed as well in the few weeks since I last saw her. Blink, and everything changes!

Andrew and I did a run to Sainsbury's at dawn, and then we all skyped with Diana for a while, and that was lovely. Missy rather fancied eating the camera. Then off we poddled to Costco, and that was where I said goodbye and headed home. The traffic was a nightmare, with loads of stopping and starting, so consequently, I am a wreck, and need a nap. Urgently. However, I have been watching the shed come down, and wondering if the fence will stay upright. Priorities, you know.

The washing machine has been doing its thing, and I will consider the cleaning tomorrow. Or maybe not. Acupuncture at the pain clinic (at the hospital where I had the worm thingy) starts on Monday. I have no known phobia about needles, so we will see if there is any benefit from it. I live in hope. Anything is worth a try.

The couch is calling, people - I am off to snooze.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random bits again......

So another day is nearly over, and with it, another meeting done. All kinds of officialdom I have discovered, are things I loathe. The people may be very nice, but I am a maverick too, and I hate being typecast, or having to tick boxes.

Oh well, that is the moan of the day done with for now. The boxes are duly ticked. And the patio is finished. The boys did a great job, and I am more than thrilled. You will see photos when I have got it all back in place, as in the 39756787 pots which are piled up around the place need to go where they are supposed to go and THEN you will see all. I promise. I am rather wanting the garden to leap into autumn mode right now. If I never see another tomato it will be too soon, or that is how I am feeling at the moment. There is bounty to celebrate and then there is overload. I want to plant tulip bulbs! Changing seasons are good!

David is starting to gather up all the things he needs for his return to uni, and soon the house will be empty again. Well, I will still be here, but you know what I mean. I will once again discover the floor in the old kitchen, and the piles of uni things will be gone for another year. He is really looking forward to getting back and getting together with his friends, and one hopes, starting the new year of work too. He loves his course, so it is all good. He did extremely well last year, and I am so proud of him. As an added bonus, I do get to see Missy this weekend, though, so that will be wonderful. I wonder if she will remember me at all.

The quilting is going well, but slowly, and the tv is about to give up the ghost and expire, which is not good. Quilting in the chilly evenings is great because I get to be warm while my fingers fly. Snuggly. I just love making things. Having tv to watch while I sew is an added bonus, but hey, if it expires, I will survive. I think.

The word I am focussing on this week is "Fire". Interesting one. Memories of fires, campfires, fireplaces, bbqs, chiminea, toasting marshmallows, mountain fires fanned by the south-easter, dreams of woodburning stoves, sitting in front of fires and watching the flames dance...... so much to think about, write about, take photos......
I am really enjoying picking a random word and then looking for it through the week. Dredging up memories, and writing down the many and varied thoughts it conjures up. It is good discipline and very good brain training! Focus. It is all about focus, and the added bonus is that you end up with a scrapbook fo memories as well. Last week's word was "pink" and the week before was "laughter". Random says it all. I am having a ball.

Right. I need coffee. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

That backspace button......

So many profoundly moving posts out there in recent days..... maybe the start of Autumn is a time for reflection or assessments, or the like. The thing about profoundly moving posts is that:

a) the fact that they are profound makes me stop and think, and do some reflecting of my own - not always a comfortable thing and
b) they are moving, which engages the emotions - thoughts about people who may be cyber friends, but they are friends, none the less, and I hurt for them.

Kelli's daughter , Kati, who is just 16, started a recent post with the words - "There is no backspace in life". Good grief. I stopped right there. She is a part of the generation who has never known life without a backspace button, or a delete button, or buttons of many kinds. Those of us who are slightly older than 16 remember those times well. The pre-technological age. Where we wrote real words on real paper and then put the paper in a real envelope and had to walk to the post office to get a stamp and then post the letter to a friend, which took 1 day - 6 weeks to arrive.

This process gave us time to reflect on what we had written. Maybe rip up the paper and toss it away. Make sure it was written neatly, and that there were no mistakes. With the advent of email and text messages, not so much any more. Hands up those who have NOT regretted firing off an email and hitting the send button. And those who inadvertantly sent a text message to the wrong person. Then wished she had the ability to slither through the waves and grab it back before it reached the inbox. Sigh. I know this feeling.

No time for second thoughts, or a cooling off period before sending a letter. I can take a photo of my kitchen while talking to my sister on Skype, download it and email it and she has it in 10 nanoseconds there before my eyes as I watch it arrive in her inbox.

There is no backspace button in life.

We can't go back and undo stuff we have said or done or sent. Make it disappear. Delete it. We can't take back words uttered in haste or in a fit of unholy temper. We can't take back or delete a look which shrivels someone at 40 paces. And unfortunately, like the computer which still somehow has all the information stored in files I cannot see and do not understand even when it is wiped clean, our minds retain the memory of words and actions which hurt us. For decades. And longer. Oh for a "delete" button then. Or a "restore to previous settings" button, so I could wipe out events and emotions, and words and all the rest. Where you could even choose the restore point. An "escape" button would also be handy at times.

But I can't wipe or escape or backspace, because I am human not a piece of machinery. You or I could build a computer in a few days. (With an instruction manual.) It is not hard. I have a son who has built his own, and friends too who have done this. It can be done. We can create a machine from bits and pieces which can delete things, which can backspace, be restored, wiped clean, made new.

But not our minds. Our hearts. What is done or said is a part of us, and how we get to deal with it depends largely on our faith. Everything which happens to me is for a reason, I believe. I learn and grow from all the good and the bad, self-inflicted or not. Mistakes and successes. Celebrations and catastrophes. I have no idea why my life has followed the path it has, but I am totally convinced that God has a reason for letting me grow this particular way. It is not for me to try to second guess Him. Yell loudly at times, though. Weep and wail, grovel, cheer or howl with laughter at times too. Stand with my hands on my hips and shout "You canNOT be serious!" I do believe He shakes His head, rolls His eyes and grins at my antics along the way. I am a bit of a trial, I think.

Thank heavens for a new day. A new chance at making things better. Seeing things more clearly. As long as I start each day knowing that the past is wiped out and behind me, I don't need that backspace button. I can't go back and change things which happened, but I can change the way I live today. It is a promise I live by. Cling to. A truth I know. It is all about forgiveness.

Ctrl Alt Delete. Restart. New start. Clean screen.

And try to do better. Paint a more beautiful picture. Keep moving forward.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So where has the week gone then??

You know what.... I am SICK OF BLOGGER. I check the dashboard to see who has posted new posts and so help me, more often than not, Blogger tells me I am not following any blogs. Hello???? I have nearly 200 on the dashboard. Or I should have nearly 200. Right now, apparently I follow no-one. It is enough to send anyone off the deep end. So in case I have disappeared off your lists, please rest assured that I am here.

The week is going by so fast, and it seems just yesterday it was Monday. And now Thursday is nearly over. Apart from the patio, which is a work in progress, and a very good one indeed, there is not a lot happening around here. More doctors, time with friends, and now I have the wadding I can start pinning the big quilt. And tomatoes. I dream about tomatoes. The wretched things are taking over my kitchen and my life. There is a limit to the number of tomatoes one can look at. Especially when one has run out of freezer space, and one has no idea how to can anything, never mind no jars either.

I have spent too long standing (see the tomato saga) and David, in a moment of genius, told me I should get a high stool thingy - bar stool type of chair so I could sit and peel tomatoes. Amongst other things. He even helpfully left the Ikea website open for me to see. So when my friends offered to take me to Ikea, I deicded to see what they had and ended up with a bargain. The best of the chairs. There was only one on the shelf, and I popped that on the trolley, then meandered over to look at the bargain basement, as one does, and there in the middle of the floor was my chair. I asked if it was reduced, and the man said it was. Why? It had no packaging. So they knocked a third off the price. For packaging I would have to throw away, and for a chair I did not need to assemble????? It was in the trolley so fast, you have no idea. The one in the box went back on the shelf. Deal done. I now have a chair. However, it seems to be in the way, so I will have to re-jig the kitchen, or just learn to sit on it. I love it, even if there is a tiny scratch which you need a magnifying glass to see.
My life is filled with exciting things.

In the background, you can see some of the many thousands of tomatoes. You can also see a red tea-towel wrapped around something. That would be the most exciting part of the day. We stopped at a South African shop on the way to Ikea, and lo and behold, they had Nutty Wheat flour from South Africa! I used to make bread with it when we lived there - just 4 cups of flour, a teaspoon of bicarb and a teaspoon of salt, then add 500 mls of drinking yoghurt or buttermilk mixed with 2 tablespoons of either honey or golden syrup, and combine the lot, and bake in a loaf tin for 45 mins at 180C. be still my heart. I had a loaf in the oven within 15 minutes of getting back home. Sigh. It is every bit as delicious as I remembered.

So there you have the latest news from the Casa del la Rocking Chair. David and Duncan will finish the patio in the next day or so, and I will be able to sort the garden. (That means get the son to move everything to where I want it to go.) I am totally in awe of his strength, by the way. He picks up 2ft square concrete slabs and pops them down as if they weigh nothing. I wouldn't be able to lift one if my life depended on it. He is immensely strong. And he can now add patio laying to his CV. This has been a summer of new experiences for him! I am really thankful he is here, and wiling to help out. He is a star.

Monday, September 07, 2009

We failed.....

The posse returned from the woods with no success. The glasses are nowhere to be seen. Exercise has been done though. Much exercise. I do believe that will do for the rest of the week. Or until the next aquarobics session, anyway.

The apples are about to go in the freezer, the dead plants are in the bin, the autumn table cloth is on the table, and the sand has been acquired.


Ah yes. Remember the demise of the garden shed? Well, the space where it used to sit needs to be paved. So, as my son is home for the summer holidays, and more importantly, as he is off to uni next week for the new academic year, I thought a little healthy exercise, as in "lay a patio if you want to eat", would be in order. Please. So tomorrow, he and his shed demolotion accomplice, Duncan, aided by Jean and me yelling encouragement and instruction in a helpful manner, I hope it will be done. We have the slabs for the patio. We have cement. Well, Jean has cement and will bring it tomorrow. We have the sharp sand. I have no idea why it is called sharp sand. It is not blunt. I have a spirit level. And a plank of wood.

And once the boys get going, I will have a patio. Sons are really great blessings. I am not sure he thinks the same about his mother right now. The poor kid had to carry the sand, which is incredibly heavy, and the concrete slabs. I think he is resting. Recuperating. I held the doors open.

So that has been my day. Tomorrow the sun is going to shine. Plums and tomatoes need to be dealt with. Washing too. My house smells of apple and cinnamon right now - it smells like autumn!

Happy Labor Day to my American friends. (I am still tempted to spell it the English way - Labour!!)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Quilts, glasses and tomatoes.....

Quilts, glasses and tomatoes..... I have have reached new heights - or depths, rather - in the realms of snappy titles. This has to be the worst of the lot. Accurate, but decidely not stunning.

I made this quilt, the Happy Quilt, to use in the summer if I lit my chiminea and it got a little chilly outside. Bright, summery and fun. The chiminea has not been lit. It is too cold to contemplate sitting out at night. Quilt and fire or not. So it can wait till next year. I have also decided to make a big bright one for my bed in the winter months, because it is certainly not drab, and will make me smile. Cheerful is good! A Happy Quilt.

After church this morning, David and I decided that going for a walk would be a better idea than vegging out on the couch, so we went to a nearby country park (with the sticks too) and walked through the forest. There are hundreds of paths. I tell you this because, when we got back to the car, I realised that I had lost my varifocals. In the forest. On one of those many many paths. Give me strength. David went one way and I went another but could not find them anywhere. I have told the ranger, and hope sincerely that someone has picked them up and will hand them in. But tomorrow, my friends are coming with us, and we will look again. If we can EVER find the exact paths we took.

I can't remember if I told you that we are experimenting with the medication I am on, to see if I can survive without the tablets. You have NO idea what I am feeling right now. I am determined to make it through a month, but I do believe I am aging 10 years every day. This is why I am so exhausted all the time. The doctors have told me I can up the doses whenever I need to, if it gets too bad, but I want to see if I can adapt. Believe me, it is bad. So I have been trying walking more to take my mind off my leg. (I actually wrote "the" leg, and remembered to change it!) It hurts no matter what I do, so I may as well do something fun, if you see how my mind is working here.

Anyway, if I sound a little bonkers in the next few weeks, please overlook my rambles. I have a very valid excuse.

And now I must go and look at the tomato/onion stuff I have cooking on the stove to freeze. I have a mountain of tomatoes, and as fast as I cook them, the pile grows even bigger. There are also apples and plums to sort. They can wait till tomorrow. I need another freezer. Sigh. I will be back later.

Friday, September 04, 2009


It has been a couple of days of appointments and assorted sundries which has kept me from blogging. The need to nap mainly. I am tired, my friends. The drowned book I was trying to read is a by-product of the tiredness. I fell asleep in the bath and woke to see my book, which has clearly got me sitting on the edge of the seat, floating face down in the water. The bubbles make it all the more interesting. It smells good.

Where was I.... oh yes, appointments and such like. I saw the physiotherapist at dawn yesterday, and as I am no longer making mistakes with the exercises, she does not need to monitor me for a while. Or at least till I get the next set of exercises from Bath. And then there was the return to aquarobics in the afternoon. I was a wreck afterwards. We worked hard. HARD. And it is only when you lever yourself out of the water and attempt to walk with gravity back in full swing, that you realise how hard you have been working.

I managed to leave my socks at home - for in the water, so I don't slip - well, I managed. Just. I also forgot my hairbrush at home. This was unfortunate, as I washed my hair and towelled it dry with vigour when I got out of the water. No hairbrush meant I departed as rapidly as possible, looking like the bride of godzilla. Sigh.

Today I was up and out at dawn again with Glynis to see the new orthopaedic surgeon re the unfortunately positioned ganglion at the base of my thumb. The gear changing hand. That thumb. The one which is used all the time. Anyway, the man was great, and he announced that because of the CRPS, they would be doing nothing unless I was in mortal agony, which I am not. We definitely do NOT want the CRPS to erupt in the hand too. At least he had heard of CRPS and knew about it.

And now, I am about to go and see the occupational health doctor for work related stuff. I just hope he has a working knowledge of CRPS too, though it is entirely possible he doesn't. Glynis will be taking me and sitting in on the appointment. Those friends I mentioned... they are great.

So.... ho hum. A fun day. A fun few days. I may have mentioned this before, but I absolutely hate having to justify myself. Explain the illness. And because it is largely invisible, it makes it a million times worse. And because I am a strong willed individual, I hate to show signs of weakness, and that makes it worse still. If I was adept at being a wimp, it may have been a trifle easier. I missed that gene. The wimpy one. But, as I keep saying, next time I am coming back all pink, fluffy and helpless. The order has been placed.

Right. It is time to go. I will check in later.


I am back and he knew all about CRPS. Hallelujah. It was not bad at all. Now I am off for a nap again.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Happy Birthday to my sister!

Today my little sister is 53. I had to check that! It is her birthday, and once again, I wanted to tell you how incredibly blessed I am to have this amazing woman as my sister. It wasn't always a blessing, let me add. She was a nightmare when I was small. Irritating. She got me into trouble. She was naturally brilliant. An over-achiever. A blight on my landscape. Well, the landscape of a 12 year old's life.
My mother used to will be glad to have a sister when you are older. Hmmmmm. I never believed her at all. (Someone called Oscar is ringing me on skype. Repeatedly. Who the ******* is Oscar????) But she was right, as mothers generally are.

I am glad.
She is a blessing.
She is possibly the one person in the world who knows me best of all.
She is the hardest worker in the universe.
She has a heart as big as an ocean.
She adores her husband.
She adores her family.
Everyone loves her.
I love her.

She is special.

Happy Birthday, Marge!