Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tears fall for a friend, and for memories....

It is a grey day around here today in more ways than one. Grey because winter has re-appeared yet again, and it is cold and wet, and grey because someone I know died suddenly yesterday. Not unexpected, but sudden nonetheless. And no matter how much you may think you are prepared for it, it is a mega shock when it happens. Believe me - NEVER think you have dealt with things like death until it actually happens, because it will swamp you.

I got the phone call from my friend's son and went to fetch her from work and break the news. I was with her when she had to deal with the police, coroner and all the routine paperwork, and say goodbye, and so help me, it took me back nearly 4 years and I was in auto-pilot once again. This is the first time I have confronted the reality of death since then, you know, and while this is not about me in the slightest way, it has been tough. And I have been wobbly. I look at her, and I see me. I see the things I did, and should not have done, and I try to speak about those things, so she can avoid some of the mistakes I made. Like thinking I could handle things alone. Rejecting offers of help. The constant need to be doing something - moving. I see it all and I understand. Trying to remain strong for my kids. Saying things like "I am fine". Oh yes. That is a really good one. I am an expert at saying that.

No, I was not fine. But I didn't want anyone to see the vulnerability back then. Didn't want to let the tears fall. Didn't want anyone to see tears. In fact, just shoved the whole enormous emotion called "Grief" or "Sadness" back in the box, and there it has stayed. The only trouble is that at times like this, it starts swelling up like a monster and threatens to break the seal on the box and explode out. And quite frankly, that would be a disaster right now.

Death is something we never really talk about. Strange, that. It is a sort of forbidden subject. Not exactly dinner table conversation, is it. And yet it happens to each of us. There is not a soul in the world who has not, or will not lose someone close to them at some stage of their lives. Sadness is one of those emotions which is inescapeable. It is conceivable that someone could go through life without experiencing happiness, I suppose. But sadness? I don't think so. I know of a family where a child has been brought up so shielded from the harsher side of life, (aka reality) that she is not even told when people are sick, never gets to visit anyone who is not whole and happy, and lives in this little bubble controlled by her mother, where no bad things happen, people are never sad, every wish is granted, and the world is all bright shiny and smiley. And you know, it has prevented her from being real. Alive, human, and it has also prevented her from growing into a thinking adult to the extent where I fear for her safety and well-being.

Life is tough at times. Harsh. Ugly. Hard. Bad things happen. Every wish is not granted, and every prayer may be heard, but is not always answered the way we want it to be. And going back to that post a few days ago re the patchwork heart, it is the scarring of the heart as it is patched with all the experiences life tosses up which makes us unique and inspires compassion. Compassion. "Com" means with. You feel with someone. Not sympathy - that drove me crackers. Empathy. Words are easy but it is the actions which make the difference. Reaching out. Sitting there. Listening. Making calls. Answering the door. Passing the tissues. Wielding the vacuum cleaner. Making tea. Washing dishes. Clearing up. Emptying the waste bins. Cooking. Touching. Holding. And most of all, totally ignoring the ridiculous words - "I am fine."

I think one of the most difficult things to handle is/was when people walk through the door with mournful faces. And extend traditional words of sympathy in quiet voices. I know they all meant well, believe me - and their hearts were in the right places, but they didn't know what to do. Neither did I for that matter. Ironically, it was easier when someone burst through the door in floods of tears. That I could deal with. It felt real. It also made it easier to let those rogue tears fall a little too. I also know it was a total ray of sunshine when someone just breezed in and shot to the kettle to make coffee with a grin. Who treated me like she did the day before. Who chattered away about life, and interspersed that with " Now what is on the list for today? Who do I need to call/chase/ speak to? What needs cancelling / arranging/ doing?"

You see, normality is something which exits out of the window in a flash, and normality is what you want back the most. You want the safe parameters of your life back in place. The ones you know and are comfortable with. Because, as I have said many times, you are in a strange world where you do not know the way, can't understand the roadsigns, and do not speak the language. Oh come back, normality. And the ability not to feel guilty if you want to recall a hilarious moment, and laugh. And to be frank, you will not get much sleep and that will be interspersed with the mind racing off on tangents which seem vitally important, but which are actually piddling. You forget what you are saying, forget what you are thinking. Not because you are losing your mind, but because every processor in that brain of yours is working overtime, trying to get a fix on the new reality. Re-wiring at speed.

And never ever assume that you can quantify the grief someone may be feeling. You cannot. Memories are personal and detailed, and they swim through your consciousness, and make you alternately want to scream, shriek with laughter, or sigh with frustration. They will contain regrets and joys in equal measure. My head hurts just thinking about it all. It did back then too. And it will be for my friend.

Yesterday was a very long day. For my friend. For her family. Today will be filled with activity, as will the coming days. Planning, papers, people, phone calls. House full of people. And then the day will come when there is no more planning to do. No more papers to sign. No more phone calls to make and no more phone calls to be answered either. No more people filling your days. The visitors will go back to their homes and their lives, and pretty soon, people will stop asking how you are doing, and you will keep saying - I am fine. And they will assume you are healing, and that your "life goes on".

It will go on, of course it will. But that heart inside your chest - the one beating rhythmically day and night - will have a few more scars patterning its exterior. Thick ones. Ones which take a lot longer to heal than some of the other ones did. Years maybe. Many years. And in the stillness of the night, tears may leak gently from the corners of your eyes, and you will wonder if you could have done things differently, if your could have fought harder to save him, if you could have changed things. If you did your best. And, if you were me, you would lean against the chest of the Father who knows the secrets of your heart, and whisper with utter brokenness, I don't know what to do now. Help me please.

Somehow my words have become a mixture of two women, two men, two deaths, two families, two hearts, two lives. I never meant that to happen. But the lid of that box just popped a nail.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A whole lot of sleeping and wise words from the Arch.....

So it is Monday again, and predictably, now that we are on British Summer Time, there is snow falling up north. And more expected. I just stuck my nose outside and it is COLD. And wet. And revolting. So I decided against leaving the house at all.

Friday was the day for lawyers, and Glynis, Jean and I made our way to the meeting, and after 2.5 hours of talking and forms, my brain was fried. And the rest of me was not much better. So I fell asleep on the couch and woke at 2am. Saturday was supposed to be a rest and recover day, but it wasn't, and so I fell asleep on the couch and woke at 2am. Only it was actually 3am, because of the clocks leaping about. Do you see a recurring pattern here???? Exactly.

And yesterday, I unashamedly stayed in bed and watched the Grand Prix. Not that I am overly fascinated by racing cars, but it was on, so I watched. And then I retired to the couch and did nothing except some quilting. My life is so exciting.

And now I have spent the start of the day on the phone sorting out more official stuff, and am rapidly developing a loathing of all forms of officialdom. Bring on a desert island. I am struggling to regain the aura of being thankful for my many many blessings right now.

You know, I happened to watch a documentary on Archbishop Desmond Tutu a couple of nights ago, and it was fascinating. I knew him in Cape Town because Bishopscourt was close to the little church I went to, and I have helped out in his offices in my time. He used to come trundling in with the famous tea trolley at 11am every day... and preside over the teapot. He still does to this day, I gather. His infectious laugh and wonderful sense of humour is something I will always remember. Not to mention his wisdom and insight. He had a T-shirt given to him by one of the local vicars who happened to be the husband of a friend of mine - it said "Just call me Arch". And he LOVED it. And wore it too! People still call him Arch. There used to be protest marches, where the call was to "March with the Arch."

And this is where I get back to that struggling with the aura thing up above. In the interview, he was asked about his optimism, and he said...."I am not an optimist. I am a prisoner of hope." And that made so much sense to me when I thought about it. He went on to explain that, as Christians, we have faith, which gives us hope. And as a result, we are prisoners of that hope, no matter what happens in our lives. We can't let it go, because that would be denying our faith. And I glibly talk of optimism. Hmmm. Hope is not a negative emotion, is it. It is a positive one. But so much deeper than optimism.

I look at my life, and it does seem to be coloured by hope, rather than optimism. I truly believe that all things happen for a reason, and that God makes them all knit together for good. The fact that we don't understand it at the time is inconsequential.

And then he was asked what he would like as his epitaph. He had that one sorted long ago, he said. "He loved. He laughed. He cried. "

How perfect is that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The garden is becoming more interesting by the day. Just one plant, yet so much activity around it....
I can't tell you how many photos I took of bug type of things. So many bees, and so many ladybirds.....

90% of the photos, I hasten to add, were blurry or of nothing identifiable at all. But there were one or 2 which made it worth the effort!

The robin is still here, and has a wife, I think. Or 2. Maybe a harem. And then there are all the other small medium and large birds as well. And squirrels. And worms. And if the sun shines, I swear I can actually see the daffodil and tulip bulbs inch upwards towards the sun. I am spending way too much time out there just willing everything to grow, I think.

New shoots on the roses, the hydrangea, and the wild geraniums are growing as well. Shrubs looking so dead, now have little buds appearing. I love spring.

I need to get potting soil. I need to fill the seed trays. Plant stuff. I have the greenhouse to fill!

And don't you just love my favourite mug? I need coffee, people. Missy's other Granny, Ginny, gave it to me when she was born. It makes me grin - glamorous?? Hahahahahahah!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Grilled Grandma and a Patchwork Heart.....

A few days ago I had a hilarious email forwarded from my friend Crystal about the joys of aging. It was the one about stretched bathing suits and staying up till 4am, and extra cookies and cement geckos - you have possibly seen it. I roared with laughter as I read it, and then I started thinking. It was this part ..............."Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect." (I have no idea where the email came from or who wrote it, so I am just crediting the author here. Thank you!)

Anyway, it made me think about how we go around trying to protect ourselves from hurt, from denting those hearts of ours. How we avoid some things because we want to keep our hearts whole and pristine and perfect. Stupid. Really stupid.

My heart has been dented plenty, and oh yes, I have tried to protect it, and have regarded the dents as flaws. Weaknesses. I know that it is hard to trust again if your heart has been broken. I know it is difficult to risk love, if you know that gives the loved one the power to hurt you. I know people die, pets die, people say terrible things, do terrible things. I know accidents happen. Life can take some horrible turns, and I know that too.

But what I had not thought about was that scar tissue. Once it forms, the scar tissue, that is, it is thicker than the surrounding skin. Maybe stronger, because of the thickness. It has been broken, it has healed and still works. And I KNOW THAT. I look at my leg, where I had an operation when I was 10 years old. There is a scar, and the stitch marks are clearly visible. But I know it is whole and fixed, because I can see it. Every day. It looks different, but it is part of me, and it works.

So back to that heart of ours. Pristine, unblemished, perfect? Or patched, dented, and clearly used well? Geoff used to laugh when I bought metres of fabric, came home and chopped it all up and sewed it together again to make quilts. He did not get the creative quilt thing, and wanted to know why I cut up perfect fabric - whole and pristine, and then sewed it up again. To make something even better, I used to say. But you are losing so much of the fabric in seams, he said - ah yes, but I am making it stonger too, I said. More beautiful.

I think my heart is a patchwork heart. I think that, after 55 years, it is scarred, dented, bashed and a little lopsided, and the scar lines are the seams of the patchwork. So many patches stitched together. It is unique. It is mine. And it tells the story of my life.

And if I had lived in a bubble, never shed a tear, never hurt, or laughed till I could hardly breathe, or loved so much, or lost at all, it may have been pristine and perfect, but boring. Unused. Neutral. Nothing.

There is no such thing as an unused heart. While there is life, it beats. And where there is life, there is all the other stuff. The dents. It is inescapable. The more patches on the heart, the bigger it gets. The stronger it will be. Infinite capacity to grow.

I like being older. My heart may be all the above - but it fits perfectly.

And now for something COMPLETELY different!

I am a Grilled Grandma !!!! How exciting is that. Hop on over and have a look! Lisa has a wonderful blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed being grilled. And reading other Grandma's stories too!

I am about to attempt putting the badge up here. Hmmm. It may be a trifle challenging. I have however, put it in the sidebar, so it is easy to click on it and see my grilling!

(I apologise for the multiple postings on this post - I am trying to sort things. Really. )

Monday, March 22, 2010

A few photos.....

Daffodils at the front door!

Someone "tidying" Moregranny's bookcase.....

Missy modelling her new cotton sun hat. She looks so gorgeous in them. Now to find a way to get her to keep them on!

Here are a few of the hats I have crocheted. They are super easy and very quick to make, and so help me, the child has so many now. I really should move on to new things. Well, I am quilting at the moment.

The flowers are all Attic 24 variations, but the hats are my version of an on-line pattern. I adjusted it and worked out what would be right for me by trial and error. A great deal of trial and many errors. They are a 60% cotton mix, so should be lovely and cool for Missy to wear in the sun.

Back to normal again....

I am not too keen on Mondays at the moment. Nor am I very keen on Fridays for that matter. I seem to be working through the week here. 3 Mondays ago was the trip to Bath. Then there was the school final firing squad. Then there was Diana's op. Now today, Andrew, Ann and Missy left, and as soon as they drove off, the sun disappeared and the rain started. It matched my mood.

It has been a busy weekend, and included a shopping trip, lots of play time here at home and walks all over the place, as well as Andrew being struck by the 24 hour vomitting virus, and Ann not being 100% either. That left Missy and me to play. I took her for a walk ALONE and we popped in to see Jean. Missy decided that she was very shy at that point, and climbed up my legs to be held tight. I had 15 minutes of cuddles from my little granddaughter, and was in no hurry whatsoever to encourage her to walk around and relax. I just loved cuddling her close without her trying to get down and run away, thankyouverymuch. It was perfect. And now she is back at her home, and there is no-one to grin and say hiya when I walk into the room any more. And what a grin it is. Sigh. SIGH. Bigger sigh.

And the rain is still falling, although the daffodils are blooming at last. I am off to look for suitable photos to post. I will be back.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The weekend will be fun!

Well, the weekend is going to be great - Missy and her Mum and Dad are coming up this afternoon and they are staying for the weekend. I have been trying to clean the place...... you know, threads everywhere, and then thinking, oh good grief, move the scissors. The pins. The crochet hooks..... And then thinking - food. We need food. And charge the camera, and set up the cot. The high chair..... where IS the high chair......

And so I am whizzing around the place in a totally disorganised fashion, starting one thing, thinking of another, doing half of that before I think of something else. So I did what any sane woman would do. I made coffee. And here I am.

The lounge is half hoovered. The bathrooms are half cleaned. The quilt is being assembled (I got distracted and though I could assemble it quickly and then I could quilt this weekend when Missy sleeps) and there is some food to eat. Now I can't remember where I have put anything. Breathe, girl. And make a list. That is what I need. A list.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swans and another week nearly over.....

Diana is trying to adjust to life with crutches, and arms, she says, of steel by the end of this. It is the small things which drive you crackers - like how to carry a cup of tea. How to get out of the shower. How to do just about anything, and not being able to put any weight on her leg complicates life considerably, of course. She will wait to see the spcialist before she makes new plans - the most important thing is for her to heal as soon as possible. Thank you all so much for your prayers and love and support. You are stars!

And thank you too, to Morning Glory, who fiddled about and made my header. Another real star. Not to mention a genius of the highest order!

I have done a great deal of the wrong kind of pacing over the course of the week. I also planted 13 pots of potatoes, and filled another 6 pots with fresh soil. Finished crocheting the bag, pieced the top of the quilt, and am about to construct the little greenhouse thingy this afternoon. Jean is coming to help. Anything to keep busy. Not a good idea, but very necessary at the time. Physical exhaustion is easier to deal with than emotional exhaustion. It hurts, but that takes your mind off everything else. Or rather, it deflects it for a brief moment. So I have to tell you, Linds is not bubbly right now. Still grinning, though a trifle weakly.

Yesterday, a friend came to take me out for lunch, and on our way home, we passed a field with over 70 swans sitting down. I have never seen anything like it, and tried to take photos, but they were spread over the field, so only got little parts of the scene in each photo. Just amazing. I know there are usually a few swans down at the river, but I have never seen so many in one place before, and judging by the cars stopping to watch them, neither had other people. I left the photos up at the top of the page so you can click on them to enlarge.

That is it for now. I can't believe another week is nearly over.....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daughters, doctors and distance.....

Well, that didn't go quite as planned then.

Instead of a simple torn meniscus repair, the surgeon discovered a badly damaged patella and cartilage and there is every chance the other knee is the same. He has no idea what has caused it, and has never seen anything like it in a 29 year old patient. Diana is now on crutches for 6 weeks and can't put any weight on the foot at all in that time, can't drive etc etc etc. Her plans for the next few weeks/months are all up in the air as a result, and this Mum is not having a good day. Scratch that, this Mum is having an appalling day.

But it is not about me at all. It is about that beautiful girl of mine across the world, and so can you please add your multitude of prayers to those already winging their way heavenwards? Please? Healing. Miracle. The lot.

The surgeon has drilled holes into the bone to try to stimulate regeneration. Thank heavens she had a general anaesthetic and not an epidural. Yes, I know knees can be replaced. But at 29??? And she is so far away too. She is being so upbeat about it all, and yet I hear my little girl hurting, and it is very hard.

She lives by the most enormous and all encompassing of faiths you know. A complete trust in the fact that God's plan will work out through anything and everything life throws her way. His glory will shine through her. Just watch.

This Mum, however, will be Having Words with my Friend. This is MY daughter we are talking about, and I am Not Best Pleased.

Monday, March 15, 2010

15 March....................

The Ides of March.

15 March.


It is also my goddaughter's birthday. Happy Birthday, Alice (who is now grown into a lovely young woman, and a mother herself)!

And I always remember both of the above because the 15 March was Geoff's birthday. He would have been 67 today. Mum and I have just been talking about how we can't imagine him being 67, but then he never looked 60+ anyway. I think he would have looked very much the same as he always had done. But I will never know.

Tonight our time, my daughter will be having her op on her knee. It will be tomorrow in NZ. You know, if anyone happens to be reading this blog for the first time, they will think I am slightly crazy. Tonight, tomorrow..... oh well. I know what I mean. So, even though the logic says it will all be just FINE, the mother in me will be pacing. The wrong kind of pacing, that is. There is no "off" switch for Mums, is there. It stays in the "on" mode from the moment they are born, for the rest of time, and even though my daughter is a grown woman, I am still her Mum. And not there. And in full Mum Operational Mode. MOM.

I suspect it may be a looooooong night.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Mothering Sunday!

It is Mothering Sunday today...... that is what they call it here in the UK. It is Mother's day, just not in May like it is in the rest of the world. Usually, with a bizarre quirk of fate, it happens on the Sunday the clocks leap forward, meaning that on MOTHER'S DAY of all days, all mothers get one hour less sleep. How cruel is that, I ask. This year, our clocks only do the leaping bit at the end of the month, however, so mums all over the land actually had that hour to languish in comfort and await breakfast in bed.

Well, they would if they had any children at home, which I do not. (Said with a grin, kids!) I raised them right and they flew away. So, I decided to go for a walk. I started off in the direction of the countryside, but the wind decided to do a hurricane impersonation, and the hair obscured everything, so I sensibly walked into the wind. Which led me down into the village and our newest coffee shop. I smelled the coffee, people. And I headed for my table (I appropriate things on the strength of one visit) and was delighted to see friends there too. Apparently the restaurant has been chaotically busy today, but I sampled a chocolate brownie and drank 2 cups of coffee and we chatted, and it was all good. They left, and I discovered that my young friend, Kat, had paid for my coffee as well. How sweet was that!

And so I walked home. Hair standing on end in the wind. But the sun is still trying to shine now and then, and I can tick the exercise box for today. The daffodils are growing taller, and I actually saw a couple in bloom in some gardens. The crocuses are open, and soon there will be a riot of colour in the gardens. "They" say that this spring is going to be spectacular. I suspect "they " are right.

Happy Mothering Sunday / Mother's Day to all my UK friends!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It only lasts so long......

A cold wet day starts beautifully when you switch on the computer as you pass by to make the coffee, and within minutes, the skype ring tone starts, and there, before your eyes, is the smiling face of your small granddaughter. Waving a block or 2 at me. Toddling back and forth.

I am so thankful I have a computer and that I can see and hear her.

Banking errands in a town nearby are made so much easier when you can park close by and do not have to climb stairs or walk far.

I am so thankful I have a disabled parking badge, and this was not always how I felt, let me tell you.

Doing a small food shop in a crowded noisy supermarket is made so much more rewarding when you see that the tulips are on special offer with 25% extra free, and you just know they will make you smile every time you see them on your table, and who needs food anyway.

I am so thankful for the promise of spring and the beauty of fresh flowers.

Seeing your friend's car parked outside her house, and stopping for a hot cup of coffee and a chat instead of coming home means laughter, problems sorted and catching up.

I am so thankful for friendships with amazing people who really care.

Coming home to a letterbox full of post and discovering there, amongst the brown stuff we will not discuss, a bright red envelope containing a Mothering Sunday card from your child and a drawing by your granddaughter, is a reminder of what is truly important after all, and it does not come in a brown envelope either.

I am so thankful for each of my children.

Speaking to your sister on the phone, and and hearing that dear, so familiar voice as you discuss latest family developments makes you truly grateful for sisters, and unconditional family love and support.

I am so thankful for my whole family - each and every one of them.

Sitting here wrapped in a blanket with gloves on your hands and 4 layers of clothes as well is a reminder that spring is not here yet and would it please hurry up and arrive because you are freezing and can't find a single reason to be thankful about freezing other than that you have clothes and blanket and gloves and you want to be hot so enough already and did you mention the freezing bit and you absolutely refuse to switch the heating on yet and you are quite happy to moan for a while instead of being thankful and.......

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Changing seasons.......

Life comes in seasons. Not the nature part of winter, summer etc. it what you will. I like to think of it as seasons. It sounds prettier than it can be at times.

Childhood - full engaged, busy, learning, having fun, developing individual talents, gifts, and inclinations. You don't do a great deal of thinking because you are still a kid. Thinking about tomorrow is definitely not a consideration. That is for grown-ups. Childhood is, or should be, care free.

Young adulthood - fixing the world, studying, embarking on careers, relationships and marriage. This is the part where you KNOW you know more than old people. (Old being older than 30.) And you are BETTER than the old people. The world is your oyster.

Marriage and parenthood - or nowadays, settled partnerships and possibly children added to the mix. In my case, marriage and parenthood. Totally involved with raising tiny helpless babies to thinking, responsible, capable adults. In one piece. You. And them as well. Not a great deal of time for thinking and pondering things, because you are multitasking on a formidable level.

Empty nest - hallelujah, they all made it through school and head off to university or other things like work or global trots. In one piece. And you sit back wipe the brow and congratulate yourself for making it through the last 2 decades. In one piece. Now it is time to pat oneself on the back and relax. Or.......

I am pausing at this point.

I have a number of friends who , like me, have children who have finished their schooling and are off now, either at uni, or working away from home, some married, and all independent. This is a time when both parents are usually working, and their own social life is busy with dinner parties, and weekends away with friends, theatre, gym, church, doing courses for fun, movies, and all the other social events you can think of. The children pop home now and then, and you watch benevolently, and listen as they regale you with stories of their adventures.

This is the first time, usually, when parents can indulge in hobbies or interests without feeling guilt. Time to make choices based on just 2 people, not the whole horde. It is a really weird feeling - not having to taxi kids any more, or being free to eat what you like, watch what you want to watch and do what you want to do. A whole life re-adjustment. It can also be a lonely time. For those of you with younger kids, do not write off the "empty nest syndrome". It doesn't happen at a set time, and can occur at any time once the children depart. But I suspect everyone goes through it to some extent or other.

For me, this came a little later. Possibly because I have been slightly distracted by the multitude of little blips I have had to deal with in recent years. For me, the entirely different change in life became far more apparent when I stopped and looked around. Last week in fact. And it actually has little to do with the empty nest.

The next stage is the one where the social grouping you have become used to after your children leave home starts constricting. Changing. Heading in different directions. Evolving into what I suspect is the pattern which will continue for the rest of our lives. This is where I am now.

This is the time when everyone starts focusing on a whole new range of things, not least their own health issues, parents aging, and children scattered around the world. Retirement. Trying to get the mortgages paid to be able to help children buy homes. Weddings, funerals, graduations, grandchildren, helping with childcare...... a whole new range of activities, responsibilities and needs. And it is all complicated by the fact that our families no longer all live within walking distance of each other. A birthday party means, possibly, a few days trip away. A sick child, ditto.

Gone are the days of having everyone close, chatting to mums outside school, sharing laughter as you make new friends, watching children for each other, racing about the place. THIS place. Now you have to race around the world instead. We all turn inward, to the needs of our own families. They come first. Brothers and sisters all over the world. The question is no longer "Where should we go for our holiday?" but "Who do we need to go and see?" "Where am I needed next?" "When last did I see......?" And, if you are like me, "How can I be in 3 places at the same time?"

Who will be home for Mother's day? Easter? Christmas? Birthdays? Where will I be for each of the above? How long will I be away? When do I get back? And the juggling continues, just on a far grander scale than when they were little. And because of the absences, the dynamics of our local friendships change too. Inevitably.

I don't chat to friends as often or for as long on the phone any more. We are all distracted by the shoots of our lives heading off in strange uncharted directions. I don't see my friends anywhere near as often either. For similar reasons. It is not just me, you see - we are all going through the same metamorphosis. Is this good? Change is always difficult and always brings with it painful moments. Growing pains. But life does not stand still and we were born to constantly change. At the moment, my close friends and I are in the process of breaking out of the chrysalis. The wings will unfurl sometime soon, and we will all adjust to a different phase of our lives. Season.

A different season.

The empty nest was a doddle in retrospect. It is the bit that comes next which is proving to be more of a challenge.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday already....

I went out into the garden this morning to see if the daffodils had grown another millimetre and so help me, nearly had my head removed by a pheasant which flew over the fence and almost collided with me. I am not sure which of us had the greater shock. It managed a stunning U-turn in mid flight and zapped off in another direction. Pheasants are BIG. Well, this one was. A veritable giant. I am extremely relieved it managed the U-turn. I am rather attached to my head.

Then Glynis and I met at a new restaurant in the village for lunch. Absolutely wonderful. We have decided that we need to become regulars. Ladies who lunch. Hahahahahahha. Wouldn't that be great....

And now I am home, and I have an email from one of the lawyers. My brain is fried after reading all the details - about everything except Geoff (there are a couple of lawyers working on different things for me at the law firm). Seriously, by afternoon, the brain cannot process properly. Maybe another sign that I can only do some things in the morning, or when I have not had incidents with large flying things or been out to lunch. And in case you are wondering - baked potato and COFFEE.

What else... the quilt is coming along slowly. The embroidery part, that is. While the machine did its thing, I crocheted a stripey hat for Missy. Actually, the child now has a multitude of hats. Her Mum can choose what she wants and then I will give the others away as presents. A bag next, I think. For all the crochet projects.

And since I wrote this, 2 friends have popped in for coffee. Time for a nap now, methinks. Such a hectic life I lead!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Have or have not.......?

I have not seen the Aurora Borealis.
I have not been to Prague.
I have not been in a helicopter.
I have not seen New England in the fall.
I have not earned masses of money.
I have not saved the world.
I have not rafted down the Grand Canyon.
I have not been a great sportswoman.
I have not written a book.
I have not swum at the Great Barrier Reef.
I have not mastered the art of making good shortbread.
I have not been to Disney anything.
I have not been invincible.
I have not performed on a West End stage.
I have not sauntered down a catwalk.
I have not read Harry Potter.
I have not become a famous artist.
I have not owned my dream home.
I have not learned to ski.
I have not managed to look elegant and chic.
I have not got manicured nails or perfect hair.
I have not sailed in the Bahamas or Norwegian fjords.
I have not learned how to fight for myself.
I have not experienced, been to, learned, seen or done a great many things in my life.


I have cradled the 3 babies I gave birth to, loved and raised.
I have waved goodbye to so many people I love.
I have watched my husband die.
I have sewn love into the quilts I have made.
I have poured my heart into words I have written.
I have learned new skills along the way.
I have watched hundreds of rugby, soccer, hockey, cricket, tennis matches.
I have been to galas, plays, ballet and musical performances.
I have taxi-ed my children all over the place.
I have made friends.
I have had choices, and have made them myself.
I have learned how to teach.
I have laughed a great deal.
I have talked even more.
I have listened.
I have tried my best.
I have been burgled.
I have walked in the mountains I love.
I have bandaged scraped knees.
I have sat and watched the rhythm of the ocean.
I have crossed the world a few times.
I have sat at hospital bedsides.
I have failed at things.
I have watched my son marry the woman he loves.
I have made many mistakes.
I have sung at the top of my voice.
I have made a fool of myself.
I have sailed in a gondola, and on huge container ships.
I have fought battles for those I love.
I have watched the African sun rise over the mountains.
I have read thousands of books.
I have been on a roller coaster.
I have run out of patience.
I have created amazing birthday cakes.
I have held my beautiful grandchild.
I have made this house into a home.
I have watched my children graduate from university.
I have wept when nobody sees.
I have grown lines on my face from passing years, laughter, worry, anger, joy and pain.
I have expanded, contracted and expanded yet again over the years.
I have prayed more prayers than I knew were possible.
I have driven millions of miles.
I have tobogganed down an alp.
I have grown vegetables and flowers and weeds.
I have been hurt, both physically and emotionally.
I have made plans, had dreams and re-arranged the lot.
I have experienced, been to, learned, seen and done a great many things in my life.

It is quite clear that I am not a Barbie doll. I am human. I prefer to be human. The "haves" are not all great. And the "have nots" are not important.

Oh - and as of yesterday, and that final school meeting........

I have been dismissed.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Ripple....

is finished. It is super warm and I love it. Now I want to make another one in pre-chosen colours....not just what I found at the time. Maybe that can wait till autumn, but we will see. I have a quilt to finish sometime soon too.

This is what I did last night. I curled up under it and fell asleep. Woke at 1am. Sigh.
It was great.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

All change.....

Yes, you are at the right place, my friends..... I have been playing with templates. I have never changed this blog's one myself, and believe me, I was a little nervous. A jellyfish, in fact. Heaven alone knows when last Morning Glory and I (and I use the "I" loosely here - I did nothing other than say yes or no or I don't know) changed it to the last one. Years ago, I believe.

Anyway. It can stay a little while and then I will change it again. I was a little confused because nowhere in the instructions did it say anything re deleting the old pattern, and until I did, nothing changed. The delete button and I are not close friends when it comes to blog templates. I start hyperventilating at that point.

I called my sister mid change and she gave her opinion re the 2 choices I was brave enough to show her. And the squirrel won. We all know how much I adore squirrels. The ones who dig up my garden. Hahahahaha. Maybe it is apt for that reason alone. And it is spring. I have daffodils about to bloom in the garden! The crocuses are out too when the sun shines. Now if we could just work on the temperature a little, all would be good.

The ripple blanket is done, and tonight I will be sewing in the ends, and then I will take some photos for you. It is cheerful and lovely and snuggly and very warm. Now I must get on with the quilt in progress.

Have wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 05, 2010


I have not left the house since Monday's trip to Bath, apart from baby sitting - sorry, CHILD sitting for an hour last night. And this has been good, because I have actually managed to do a few essentials like vacuuming the place. It takes time, you know. And the ripple blanket will be finished when I step away from this computer in a sec. The tulips I bought 3 weeks ago still grace my table in the kitchen, and I love looking at them. There is home-made bread on the counter, and the washing has been sorted. Sigh. I am looking for the positives today, people.

The post today was of the hideous variety. I was steaming mad when I opened the envelopes. I am still steaming mad, but trying to hum, and rise above it. These things are sent to try one, and believe me, I am being tried. Government depatrments populated by moronic imbeciles who cannot read letters for a start. Screech. However, I decided that discretion was called for, so refrained from calling them immediately to explode, which may have been counter-productive. Maybe I will just send the lot to the lawyer instead.

Moving on......

I took some photos of the extremely noisy robin yesterday, but they were rather dark, so I played around adjusting the exposure a little, and I love the way these 2 photos ended up. This bird is not at all afraid of me, by the way. It hops about the patio while I am out in the garden and never stops chirping away. For a tiny thing, it has a very loud voice.

So much I want to talk about. Maybe later. I will be back.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Spring can't make up its mind....

Spring vanished yesterday. I was less than impressed, and spent the day adding more layers every time I took the Roof Man more tea. I ended up looking like the goodyear blimp, but it worked and I did not freeze. And he finished the roof, so I am not going to have collapsing ceilings. The piggy bank has anorexia, though. Ah well.....

Today the sun is shining again. Excellent. It can stay. Hmmm. I just looked outside and it is gone again. SPRING!!! COME BACK!! The slowcooker is on as I speak with some random concoction simmering away for supper tonight, and Jean is going to pop in for tea sometime this morning. I skyped with Missy yesterday and she is toddling all over the place. If she thinks about what she is doing, she tends to reach out or plop down on her bottom, but she is walking beautifully. She "made me tea" and offered me a cup. I would be the big head on the tv screen. Such fun. And she is babbling away trying to talk too.

This week, our family has grown by 2. My cousin's son, who grew up with Andrew and they did everything together when they were little - well, he and his wife had a little daughter, and the next day, my sister's niece and her husband had a little daughter as well. Remember Hannah? The little one in Switzerland who died? She would have been a big sister now. Such joy and celebration. And so many little girls! I love it. Maybe I need to make more hats.

Yesterday the hospital where Geoff died was back in the news. They have suspended all paediatric cardiac operations, after a spate of deaths. I am wondering when someone is going to ask a question of the hospital authorities re Labcor valves, washing procedures and many deaths. I emailed my lawyer this morning and suggested now would be a good time to ask some questions at press meetings. Sigh. Maybe I just need to get the in car and go and ask them myself. I can't tell you how many emails and calls and texts I have had from friends all round the world saying " Did you see that? What is happening?"

Surrendering control, or what seems like "the battle", and letting someone fight for me is proving to be harder than I anticipated. My lawyer has a big caseload. I just had one. Mine. And that colours the way I see things, of course, and what I do. I spent a great deal of yesterday doing more research. It is hard to stop. I think of questions, and then I am off and running again. And interestingly, if you google Labcor valves, guess what comes up on the first page??? Hahahaha. Rocking Chair Reflections. Excellent. Although the problem is not so much with the valves as with the washing procedure. Which, it appears, was not followed. And there goes the brain again - off and racing. Be still and know..... yes, I get it. I am trying.

On a totally different note, can you believe I left my stripey wrist warmers in Switzerland?? I know exactly where they were. They fell on the floor under the dining room table and I never got down and picked them up. Now I think of them longingly as the fingers are freezing, and groan.

2 hours later.....
Jean and a packet of hot cross buns came for tea. That stopped the brain from racing down alleyways it would be best to avoid at the moment. She has gone now, and the hot cross buns are history. Toasted. With butter. Delicious! The sun, might I add, has also gone. We have divided up the seed stash. I now have 8 broadbean seeds in the growbag. I am planting in stages, so things keep growing. So in a few weeks, more broadbeans will go in. This necessitates A Plan. For the garden. I will never remember when I planted what where otherwise. And it doesn't matter if the sun is out or not, at least planning makes it seem like Spring!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Spring time is coming......

The sun shone today and Spring seemed to be almost here. What a difference a little sunshine makes, let me tell you.... I was out that door as soon as it crept round to dance over my garden. The lilies are now planted, and so is the dahlia. That necessitated a call to a friend, because I didn't know which end was up. This is my first dahlia. I now know which way to plant them, you will be happy to know. And the Roof Man and his sidekick arrived at lunch time to start on the roof as well. I made tea. And retired indoors to continue "springing" my house. Only now the Easter decorations have been added to the spring ones.

I have 2 Easter trees. For this one at the front door, I cut a lilac branch from my tree outside. Then discovered that it tips the jug over, so it is now tied to the bench behind it. I am nothing if not inventive.

And look who was watching me plant things this morning.......

Snowdrops at last. I also noticed that I am about to have daffodils blooming in the garden too. A little warmth and up they pop! I gather the peas and broad beans can go in this month too. All of a sudden the garden is springing to life.

Bath. What an exhausting day. We had good juorneys in both directions - it is about 2.5 hours away, and we took our time going down, with a couple of stops for me to rest. So it took 4 hours in the end. After a quick look at the shops and lunch, we headed off for the first appointment. Essentially, because of the fact that life has thrown up some obstacles in recent months, I have not been able to follow their instructions re pacing and relaxation, and de-stressing my life, so I have been stuck in the same place, and need to get back onto the plan I was given. They mentioned the fact that life seems to have been a steam roller for me at the moment. That would be about right. I go back in 3-4 months for them to make sure I am coping again. Everyone at the Min is so lovely and they really care, and are incredibly supportive. Hopefully soon I will get to the point where I am making progress again, instead of marking time. Aquarobics, here I come again.

I came home, and for the first time in months, slept through the night. 12 hours, in fact. Admittedly, the first 5 hours of sleep was on the couch, but that was fine. I keeled over into bed, and the next thing I knew it was morning. Gone are the days when I could zap around the place non-stop. But tick the box - I have been to Bath. Now the school is next. I had a call from them asking if I had received a letter re the next and final meeting. No, I have not. Well, it is on Monday. Right. Nice to know.

And that is all for now......