Sunday, 30 December 2012

Happy New Year

Photocopyright: Maggie May

Hoping you all had a very pleasant Christmas. We did enjoy ours with my daughter and grandsons. We also saw Sam and the family too.

Harry has had his first session of chemo and doesn't seem too bad. They started him off with a fairly mild one and all being well, they will increase the strength as he goes along. 

I'm always a little bit anxious at the start of a new year...... wondering what difficulties will be dealt to us during the next one?
However, as my daughter says, "Its only a number, Mum."
So, I'd like to wish everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR. Peace and health to you all.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I expect most people are going to be very busy preparing for Christmas and maybe like me, will be having family to stay.
My daughter is coming over with my grandsons and the time is going by fast with last minute preparations, so I just wanted to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas while I have a chance.

It is fairly mild here but pouring with rain and more is forecast over the holiday period. My granddaughters want snow but that seems very unlikely.

Harry will be starting chemo the day after Boxing Day so at least he will be able to eat his Christmas dinner without feeling off colour.
I usually enjoy the true meaning of the season, the carols, Nativities, children's school events and we do try to make Jesus the centre of our Christmas because that is what it is all about for us. That and family.

Wishing everyone a peaceful, joyous time whatever you are doing.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Highs and Lows

I must apologise for my lack of blogging over the past week and the fact that I haven't managed to comment on many of the blogs that I normally visit.
I have been busy with Christmas, as most of you must have been.  Christmas shopping and grandchildren's school Nativities have taken up some of the time. I have also done some childminding to help the family.

I am upset that Harry has to start emergency chemo, probably before Christmas as his cancer is getting out of hand again. Although it was on the cards that he had to have it, we had thought it might have been staved off until after Christmas. However, we are waiting for Oncology to call us for an exact date so cannot arrange any activities as we don't know when it will commence.  My daughter is coming over for Christmas and obviously was hoping that there would be no illness or treatments over the holiday period. One or the other of us has been ill every Christmas for the last three years when she has been here.
My brother Eddie's wife is really ill after the fourth of her second batch of chemo treatments and was unable to come and see us last week when Eddie and my nephew came for a visit to our home. It was lovely to see them again though and we had a lot to catch up on.
I think Eddie has had to postpone blogging for a while because of the upset of this illness and treatment and the fact that he has so many extra things to do while his wife is ill. He is known to many people as Eddiebluelights. I really hope he will be able to get back to his blog before too long.

I was absolutely appalled by the pointless killing of all those children in the USA school by an obvious madman. The pictures of them came onto our TV screen this evening and I felt  my blood run cold. It is so terrible that I can't comment further on it.

This afternoon, I went to a concert performed by Sandy's pupils. She teaches the flute and is my son, Sam's partner. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and thought everyone did very well. My granddaughter, Amber had only ever had two lessons and she went to the front and confidently played two little pieces. I was so proud of her. My step grandchildren are also very musical and Ossie played the piano and Jessie the saxophone. Maybe Millie will be playing in next years concert. I really enjoyed my afternoon and feel really proud of this musical family and the route they are taking. My mother and father, who were also very musical would have been so proud of them all too.
Lets end on this positive note!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Let There Be Light

Photocopyright: Maggie May

Today was cold but sunny and I found myself sitting on my garden bench with the sun streaming onto my face and my eyes squinting in the unaccustomed sunlight. It was a wonderful feeling and I sat this way for fifteen minutes or so before I felt the cold and went in.
Sitting outside in the sun in December? Had I gone mad?
Until yesterday, my garden had never had any Winter sunshine. In fact we had only ever had two hours of so of sunlight even at the height of Summer and this was affecting the things that I could grow.
Back in the seventies, it was very fashionable to buy Leylandii trees and plant them at the bottom of gardens. We planted two and some of my neighbours did the same. The trouble was that they grew very tall and spread their branches wide, very quickly, getting completely out of hand. When they had reached 30 or 40 feet, most neighbours, myself included, paid to have them chopped down.
These trees have huge trunks and only the tips of branches are green. Inside, there is only a brown mess of old growth and bare branches. It is impossible to shape them unless they are clipped when small or into hedges. nothing grows under neath them except ivy.
Only next door's tree remained after the others had gone and that shut out most of the light from our pocket handkerchief sized garden. As the tree gradually grew bigger and wider, I just accepted it.

Yesterday, there was a bit of a commotion in the back lane and there were chain saws buzzing and men clambering up the tree. Lumberjacks. I had the perfect view from the back bedroom window and the men took nearly all day to fell it because it had divided into two trees from the bottom.
It was just as though the light had been switched on in our back living room. I'd forgotten what the sun looked like shining through that window.

Only one drawback....... the collared doves, wood pigeons and magpies were panicking and flying round and round in circles looking for their roosting place. They circled round for ages, long after the tree had gone.
I really hope that they found somewhere else suitable. I am well pleased with the new look and the open space, but there's always a drawback to everything, isn't there?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Out Of The Woods?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

When one parent up sticks and leaves the children with the remaining one for several years and then unexpectedly tries to gain custody, it can be really distressing.
Usually by the end of that time, the children are settled with the remaining parent who has possibly a new partner and maybe new siblings and pets. Everything is stable and calm after the trauma of that person walking away in the first place.

It seems quite cruel to me, that the parent who left, can come along and flash money about and believe that the children will want to leave a stable and loving home.
Is it jealousy that makes a person do this?
It seems that the one with the most money, who can afford expensive court sessions with solicitors and barristers are at an advantage and we all know of cases where PC has come before a child's happiness.
I believe that the childrens' happiness should always be the most important thing and its hard to believe that another person cannot feel the same way.

Thankfully, as time ticks by and children get older and can make up their own minds who they want to live with, their wishes often do get taken into consideration. However these things cannot be guaranteed or decided upon in a hurry and while waiting for decisions to be made everyone is left wondering whether they are out of the woods yet.
Is it just a question of trusting the powers that be and common sense? Or is there more to it than that? I can't help thinking what a waste of money the whole thing is.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Quick As A Flash

Photos copyright: Maggie May

Our weather has turned out really stormy and wet lately and today we had warnings of structural damage through high winds.  I braved the storm to go out to the shops and was really buffeted by the wind and was like a half drowned animal when I returned home. However, a week ago the weather was much more congenial and one morning I was asked by my son, Sam, whether I was up to going for a walk with his newly acquired dogs round the local park, which was a bit of a surprise as I don't see so much of him these days. I said I would go if he didn't race on ahead. It was a fine day and I took my stick. It would be good to catch up with all our different news while we walked. I managed to keep up very well and once we reached the park, the dogs raced on ahead obviously disturbing something.
It wasn't long before I spied a little creature and quick as a flash I managed to retrieve my camera from the bottom of my bag.
The trouble was, it was quick as a flash too and I had no time to zoom in. 
Look closely......can you spot what I saw?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Unwanted Gift

Photocopy:Maggie May

It was late in 2009 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was completely shocked and unprepared for it. After all, wasn't this what happened to other people? Surely not to me.
I was just one of the people who statistically would be the *one in three* so why wouldn't it be me? Christmas of that year was to change everything because I started chemotherapy and a long, hard slog to get where I am today.
Three years on and in remission, I still can hardly believe everything that has happened. 

It was the little brown diary for 2010 that got me into the habit of writing everything down on paper, though I was already writing my blog. In the first place, the diary wasn't meant for me but was given as a Christmas present to my husband, Harry by someone who obviously didn't know him well at all because if they did, they would have known that Harry didn't like writing and would consider diary keeping as a terrible chore.
I decided to take the diary off his hands and made a New Years Resolution to write in it every day. The  first one was filled with my struggles of fighting the effects of chemo and trying to push back the disease which couldn't be cured because it was in its secondary state before it was noticed. I felt writing the diary was very cathartic so I made a New Years Resolution again to fill up a second one. 
That book was also filled up and then the third one was bought. I am amazed that I got this far because at first Oncology weren't too hopeful for a reasonable survival time.

The three books are full of my emotional and physical turmoil and as the anniversary of my cancer discovery has already passed I am so grateful to all the hospitals, treatment, doctors, specialists, nurses and family and friends who have helped me get to the stage where I am in now.
Although buying another diary does make me wonder what the next year will throw at me, I am determined to buy the next one and do my utmost to get through it and hopefully start a fifth.

Somedays when I'm filling in my daily account of the day, I look up to see what was happening last year and then again the year before. It is encouraging to see an account of what I went through and how I managed it and I am reminded of how strong I was in 2010 compared to how I am today because chemo and radiotherapy have certainly taken their toll on my body. 
I have come to the conclusion though, that we are a lot stronger than we think.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Poppy With A Difference

Photocopy: Maggie May

Children never cease to amaze me.
I'm always delighted to receive a phone call from my grandchildren but Millie's recent request for me to knit her a poppy was a bit of a surprise to say the least.
As Remembrance Sunday is coming up and schools must have been telling the children about the reason for wearing a poppy, it might have been expected that she'd want to buy one to support the veterans....... but why a knitted poppy?

I did explain that the only pattern I have in my Knitted Flower Book would produce a much bigger flower than the traditional poppy pictured in the photo.
She assured me that it would be fine.
When I asked her why she wanted a knitted one, she just replied that it would be rather nice, so being the kind, talented grannie that I am, I just got on with the request.

I am reminded that on Armistice day last year, my son, Sam moved into his new house. So Happy Anniversary Sam. 11/11/11 is not a date that is easily forgotten.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Guilt

Last Thursday, I was really looking forward to my daughter and two grandsons coming for a long weekend during the half term. We usually have quite a lot to catch up on because she only comes every few months and theres only so much you can say on the phone.
My son also called over with the two granddaughters and we also saw his partner, Sandy. Just a normal family gathering and a pleasant time.
Eventually it was bed time and the granddaughters had gone home with Sam and Sandy and everyone was in bed.

By five o'clock in the morning, I knew I had a really bad sickly feeling and I was off my feet for the whole day trying to be discrete with my bucket. It was bad luck happening just as Deb had arrived but probably just a fluke. I would have stopped her coming if I had known what was going to happen.
The sickness left me fairly wrung out but I felt I got over it normally and was just annoyed about the bad timing of it.
However by Sunday morning, poor Harry suddenly became quite violently ill only this time with something much worse than I'd had because he needed the toilet too. (I'm being polite!)
My daughter had to travel that day to the other side of the country and being a single parent in charge of two autistic boys, and having a business to run, she decided to leave right away.
She travelled back about lunch time and because of bad traffic on the route she had to take, we knew it would be evening before she got home. She would phone when she arrived, she always did.

In the meantime Harry had started fainting and I was loading the machine as fast as it would wash, still feeling a little weak and tired from my own session a few days before.
In the end I had to dial the paramedics who came within five minutes. They were like angels coming to the rescue with lots of advice and arranged for a commode and plastic sheeting to be dropped off. They ran lots of tests and were here for an hour. Harry was border line for hospital but they didn't want him spreading germs so it was decided to keep him home but I would need help looking after him.
They arranged for Rapid Direct to visit our home twice a day, so that he could be bathed without me having to worry about him collapsing and he was carefully monitored.

My daughter rang with the news that she'd got home just before she started vomiting. Although she had got safely home, I was filled with guilt that it seemed to have been started by me.
My son called round this morning to say that he'd dropped the children to school but was now going to bed for the day because he felt awful.
However, Harry seems to be getting over it very quickly and it turned out to be just a twenty four hour tummy bug.
However, if your immune system is a bit compromised because of other health issues, then it can be more of an urgent thing.
If he goes on like he is doing, then he will be discharged tomorrow.
I still feel very guilty though.
I wonder if anyone will want to visit again?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Last Fairy Visit?

Photocopy: Maggie May

Millie, my youngest granddaughter has now grown up. Whilst staying with friends for a sleepover, she lost the first of her top teeth. The tooth was carefully wrapped up so that she could take it home and put it under the pillow for the tooth fairy to collect and leave some silver for her.
She came to me the next day and showed me the gap.
"I don't think there is such a thing as a tooth fairy. Its really the parents who put the money there,"She declared.
"Well, one thing for sure," I replied, "If you don't believe in her then she certainly won't leave you anything." I then, tongue in cheek, started to say, "Every time you say you don't believe in fairies......."
Amber who is ten, rolled her eyes and finished the sentence, "A fairy dies......." (Thats according to Peter Pan.)
Millie, ever ready to please everyone and obviously thinking of the financial loss, said......."Yes I do believe....... I really do" but her words were hollow and I knew she had grown too big for that. 
When the second teeth start to grow down, that *baby look* completely disappears. It is the end of an era. My last grandchild has now grown up. 
Am I sentimental in feeling slightly sad?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Gambol that Payed Off

Photo Copy: Maggie May

We have experienced some very wet and much colder weather so I was surprised when Harry made a decision to go to Weston Super Mare on the bus. He made the decision several days before he intended us to go and as he is far from well, not having gone such a long way for at least eighteen months, I didn't really think we would end up being able to do it.
The day before his intended journey, he was still so enthusiastic that we both decided we would definitely catch the bus from Bristol Bus Station and go, no matter what the weather was like, as long as we both felt well enough on the day.

So today, we both took a haversack each filled with warm hats, scarves and gloves and waterproof jackets and I took my walking stick and boarded the bus for the hour long journey and arrived well before lunch time and found the sea was calm. The night before on the local television news there were pictures of waves spewing over cars trying to travel along the sea front road, washing over the sea wall and through some open flood gates, flooding a couple of businesses. The tide had been exceptionally high and the strong wind had not helped the situation and this hadn't been expected
However when we arrived, the sun was out and the sky was blue and our skin soaked up the warmth and we walked quite a lot and browsed the shops and had little rests on benches and watched the people as they passed. 
After all this exercise, we worked up quite an appetite so we went into a little fish and chip shop and ordered Pensioner sized meals that were designed to meet with smaller appetites because we thought we ought not to eat too much fattening food.
When the meals arrived, they were on beautiful square plates and arranged appealingly and there were also two rolls with butter and two huge cups of tea. I thought we'd never get through all that food, as they turned out to be very generous helpings but we both tucked in and finished everything. The two of us agreed that it was the best meal of fish and chips that we'd ever tasted and believe me, we have had many a plateful in our lifetimes, which might account for our thickened waistlines.

We never needed to put on our woolly hats or the waterproof coats as the sun was warm and
after more walking and watching the world go by from benches, Harry said that he'd had enough and so we caught the bus home. As we neared our local area in the late afternoon, the rain fell down and it had gone cold, so once again, Harry had made the right decision to leave when we did.

Our gambol had payed off and we both felt really pleased that we took the chance and had had a really pleasant day. In fact both out moods lifted a lot.
Sometimes you really do have to go with an idea or impulse and take the chance, don't you?


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Steps Of Life

Photos copyright: Maggie May

It seems that living is just a series of steps and at the end of the flight of steps, is our departure from this world. This seems to be another subject that people don't like to talk about but I believe that when you get to the door at the top of the steps, then life goes on. 
I happen to be a Christian so I have my own set of beliefs but I know that others have theirs.

Last week I went to my friend, Pietra's funeral and as soon as her personal choice of music started as she was brought into our church, the tears rolled down my face as I sobbed silently. However, by the time we were asked to do a Mexican Wave (yes, really....... Pietra had written her own funeral and she had a great sense of humour), we couldn't help but smile and get into the requested task and there were many people in the church so it took a while for the wave to reach the back and then go down to the front again. I went home having gained something from this experience and I learnt many things from older friends that I didn't know about her.

Now I have learnt, this morning, that one of my Blogging Buddies has died of cancer too. Moannie  whose blog was called The View From This End  will be really sadly missed. She was a very clever writer and I have been following her blog for a good few years now. 
She had the knack of writing about her life in the past and it seemed so vivid and real and she did have a great sense of humour too. She even laughed at her cancer and called it The Fecker. Her computer was called Pacco and she was always moaning about the way Pacco was behaving.
Her daughter, Saz has kept all her Followers informed of her wellbeing, in the Hospice and when she was at home and Moannie didn't feel well enough to blog herself. However, we've been informed that  Moannie did follow all the comments and news on line which makes me feel that Blogging Friendship is a very special thing.

Now to turn to the other unmentionable subject that I referred to in my last post about head lice. Yuck!
Thank you to everyone who gave me advice on the subject and I did take it all on board. I hadn't realised that I'd get so many comments.

This is a marvellous little comb that I got on line and it gets rid of everything, nits and eggs and all.
I was amused and somewhat horrified to read of one of my bloggers who was a teacher in a school and she had travelled some distance up a motorway and found a hair with nit eggs in it, stuck on the bottom of her shoe. This could have hatched out if it had come into contact with another person's hair. However these things cannot be passed on through combs and hats and pillows etc like one reader thought, unless there was a hair with a live egg on it that was transferred onto someone else's head. The lice need blood to survive and the nits need a scalp to chew on too when they hatch out. They can't live in bedding or carpets.
Anyway, as long as the other mothers have got rid of their daughters' problem too, then that should be the end of it. Everything is nit free this end! Lets hope that, with the regular use of this trusty comb after conditioning each time their hair is washed, will be an end to the possibility of any more establishing themselves in my granddaughters' hair.
I hope that this will be the end of a nasty subject.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sadness and Frustrations

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

The only drawback to making a friend with a terminal illness is that there is going to be a sad ending and one risks being hurt.
I was first drawn to Pietra, who didn't live in Bristol but who came to my church every few weeks, because she was also suffering from cancer. Unfortunately, her outlook was not too good, but she had proved the Oncology team wrong on several occasions when she was given only months to live and had gone on for several years. We emailed regularly and I looked forward to the Church visit and felt she was a source of inspiration to me over these last few months as I got closer to her.
Now the inevitable has happened and I am really sad.
To the people who are left behind, it is really tough especially for her children, her mother and sisters.  She died very peacefully and unexpectedly without pain. She was a Christian with a strong belief and seemed to accept where she was going with anticipation and confidence. I will be left without my email friend who was a powerful prayer warrior, who put others in front of her own needs. She had encouraged me to be strong on many an occasion with my own illness by her cheerfulness and enthusiasm. Yes, she will be truly missed and certainly not just by me.

My friend Audrey has been coming weekly to help me with the heavier work in the garden. She wondered whatever had gone wrong with my Eleagnus Maculata bush that had started off as an innocent little shrub and ended up towering in height over the kitchen roof and some might describe it as a thug.
Audrey is fairly strong and for the last few weeks she bravely sawed off thick branches, while I gathered up leaves and chopped up smaller ones that soon filled up my Council garden waste bin several weeks running.
The last time Audrey came, she was merrily untangling top branches from the tree when a very angry bird started frantically squawking and flapping about. I looked up and saw a nest........ not a very tidy one at that. I halted all tree work much to Audrey's irritation. "There is no nesting in October," she retorted. I knew that, but what with Global Warming things don't necessarily follow normal patterns, do they? After searching the web for any information on late nesting and sitting under the tree regularly to watch and listen, I am none wiser about whether the nest is in use or not and that particular bird, who I think was a wren, seems to have gone away, leaving us with a flock of cheeky sparrows who use the tree to shelter in and keep an eye out when they are using the feeders in my garden.

My final frustration comes from the out break of head lice that seems to be plaguing my granddaughters. Can I really talk about such things as this in public! It would certainly not have been possibly in my youth when school nurses would examine everyones hair and send notes to parents to keep the children away from school. Then the offending child would eventually be sent to school with sticky foul-smelling chemicals on their hair and I'm sorry to say these poor children would then be taunted or avoided. It was definitely a thing to be ashamed of.
Now the whole of this middle class infants school seems to be riddled with the pests. No one seems to take much notice and the advice given is not to use chemicals because the beasts are immune to them anyway and the recommended treatment seems to be to use masses of conditioner on the hair with nit combing over and over again until they are all dragged out with broken legs. Well that would be fine if all the children did this at the same time but this seems to be a never ending infestation.
Most of the parents just shrug and say that this doesn't happen in the Senior schools because the children don't sit tightly bunched together with their hair touching the child on either side.

I went and broke the white plastic nit comb on Amber's strong, Japanese type hair and Millie, who seems to have inherited fine, English hair was just as difficult to untangle even with conditioner and I broke another one on her. They will insist on having long hair, flowing out on the shoulders like Alice In Wonderland. My children never had this problem because they always had short hair or was I just lucky?
I am soon expecting a consignment of metal nit combs to come through the post........ ordered from the Internet.
I think I will end on this itchy subject and hope the combs come in time for next weekend's slaughter when I will tackle the little blighters again. This time I will be ready for them.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Perfect Descriptions

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Autumn is now here and the leaves are falling thick and fast and there's a chill in the air. Yes, its definitely the time to sweep up leaves and cut back the overgrown shrubs. I have been enjoying light work in the garden, while Audrey tackles the heavier tasks.

On the way back from school, Amber, my eldest granddaughter, was trying to explain to me the way a certain person, who talks nonstop at her rather than to her, makes her feel. She told me, "I feel as though I am buried in words." I can think of one or two people I know who bury me in words too. 

Millie, the youngest, was telling me how scared she was of going to sleep because she had experienced a nightmare the previous night and was worried that she might have a repeat performance when she was sleeping with us. I tucked her into bed and promised to leave the landing light on all night. After an uneventful night, I crept into her room in the morning to find her just rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. I asked her if she had dreamed or not and she replied, "It was total darkness." I was a bit perplexed as I'd left the light on as promised and I pointed this out to her. Then I realised that she meant that there were no dreams that she could remember. It was just as though she had turned the dream screen off (like a T.V set) and that the screen was blank or black.
I think these two interpretations of different situations were very descriptive.
I think only a child can come up with this type of imagination while describing........ or am I wrong?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Its Time For Sedum Again

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

The Sedum are out again, which means that Autumn is well under way. They really are beautiful plants and these ones derived from one plant that I bought many years ago, Sedum Autumn Joy. They tend to seed themselves around the garden but not in an invasive way and I quite like the way they grow in unexpected places and I usually let them grow where they choose.
Unfortunately the spent heads don't last very long after flowering, so I cut them off to avoid them ending up in a soggy mess when the winter rain and cold make them disintegrate. They don't last long in the house either as I tried that.

Usually on a Friday I go and collect Millie, my youngest granddaughter, from school, bring her back for tea and then the two of us set off for Brownies. I am still managing to help out there and know many of the children and parents. There is usually some form of craft involved as well as a few team games and activities. There are three older girls who are helping out regularly because they are taking their Duke Of Edinburgh Award, so all the energetic activities and moving of tables and chairs is left to them. I settle for helping with the crafts and talking to and encouraging the girls in their various activities.
I quite look forward to Fridays and after Brownies, Millie comes back to our house and stays the night. She is picked up after lunch the next day. This usually involves us helping with homework and letting Millie choose what she'd like to eat.
I asked her if she didn't miss her sister and her two newly acquired siblings and was fairly surprised that she answered *no* she enjoys being the centre of attraction in our house because she says that she is the one who is *left out* in her new position of sharing in her home as a *new* family with Sandy and her children. "I must get a room to myself" she says as I snuggle her up into our large bedroom that is kept purely for visits from family. I believe Sam and Sandy are going to make more rooms in their loft, but that will take time. In the meanwhile Millie enjoys *lying in* the next morning with no other sibling trying to tip her out of bed. She then has a long bubble-bath and hair wash. So she gets a bit spoilt at our house.

I am pleased to say that my friend, Audrey is now coming to our house weekly to do an hours gardening for me. I pay her, as then she can be asked to do specific things without me feeling awkward about it. This has inspired me to do some light work out there too. It is surprising how an hours work can make all the difference to an untidy garden. I find Fridays come round so fast and I really don't know how I used to fit in all the work and activities that I used to do. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Winding Down

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

It seems that we have been waiting all summer for some sun but it has been an abominable spring and summer and we are still waiting for good weather, here in England. Now there is that hint of coldness in the early mornings and the evenings are drawing in. It will seem a long winter next time round after having no summer weather at all.

I am making slow progress, not so much pain now but pins and needles all down one leg and a really strange heavy feeling in it. I am definitely unable to do many of the tasks that I took for granted before.
I have had to arrange help for the gardening and that is quite frustrating.
I am beginning to appreciate the way my parents felt when they were winding down, but at the time it was happening, I didn't really understand how they felt about letting go and I used to get irritable with them. Maybe this is what happens throughout the generations. Maybe this is how its always been and always will be. Maybe everyone will know what it feels like when their turn comes and then they will remember how it was with their parents. Or maybe they won't.

I still cannot pick up the rabbits but am able to clean them out a bit better now. Makes me wonder if I should have them at all really if I can't see to all their needs. However, they do make us both laugh with their antics and the way they chase each other round their run and up the ramp into their sleeping quarters and back again. They like to trash their bedding and throw out all the hay. They seem to be laughing at me when I have to pick it up with my long handled grasper and put it all back in order, only to have them do the same thing all over again. Its a bit like when a baby chucks the rattle from out of its pram and realises there is a little game to be had when a grown up comes and pick it up again only for the same thing to happen repeatedly. The grown up gets fed up before too long. The rabbits don't seem to get fed up with this game though.

Hoping that readers will be enjoying the beginning of autumn or the beginning of spring, if you are in the southern hemisphere and that your weather is behaving in a way that is normal for where you are.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Coming Out of Hybernation

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I feel as though I am awakening from a nightmare. Slowly, little by little, I am beginning to be able to sit for longer periods of time without one side of my body going into painful spasms. I have a slightly bigger range of movement and I can now lie in bed all night and get up by myself. Poor Harry has been to Hell and back because he has had to do everything for me even though he is far from well himself. He has been a wonderful help to me and has never lost patience when he had to get up to rescue me sometimes for the third time in the night. 
We take so much for granted. When I was really incapacitated, I used to watch other people bend down to retrieve something from the floor, scratch a foot, stroke an animal and all the other things that people do without a second thought and I really wondered if I'd ever be able to do those things again. If it wasn't for Harry, then I would have had to put my rabbits into care because I couldn't clean them out or do anything for them. I shed many tears over this and it is remarkable how they adapted to Harry's very different ways of doing things and how he grew to really love them while they bonded with each other.
 I think it will take a good while to be able to do all the things that I used to do and I will be lucky if I ever get back to *normal*.
Friends rallied round and made all sorts of offers and little gestures that helped when I was at my lowest ebb. I am so grateful to those people.
The Council have installed extra stair rails and all sorts of equipment to help me to keep in my own home. I think it is less costly for them to do this than having me in hospital and I'm still waiting for my physiotherapist appointment to come through.
I am waiting for an appliance to come through the post that will help me to put my socks on. Have you ever thought how house bound you'd be if you couldn't get shoes, socks/stockings on?

 I have been reading other peoples' blogs more over the last week or so and have even left the odd comment on some.
Hoping to be able to spend more time in the cyber world as I get stronger and if I haven't visited your blog yet, then I shall try to do so very soon.
Many thanks for your faithfulness and good wishes and your obvious relief and joy that my scan was clear of cancer.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Painful leaps of Joy!

I feel like leaping for joy and popping champagne! I have just been to oncology and have received the wonderful news that I have NO CANCER! In the space of a few months I have received a CT, MRI and PET scan; the latter has shown that all my back problems are not related to cancer and can be treated. At the moment my son Sam is typing this for me as I am in a lot of pain but I feel hopeful now.

Please bear with me - I hope to be blogging in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

If Only

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I used to be a Lively Lady in the good old days and hope one day I might still be one.

I'm waiting for an MRI scan because my consultant now feels that I have a slipped disc or something like that.
Because this has caused me a lot of pain, I haven't spent as much time on my blog as I'd have liked to but I will get back to normal as soon as possible.
So please bear with me.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Secret Gardens

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Have you ever wondered what is behind the rows of terraced houses that you might pass regularly? Have you ever wished that you could see into the back gardens? If only that was possible.
Well, this weekend, I had the opportunity to do just that.

I noticed there were posters on local lamp posts and fences advertising that for a fee of £3 it would be possible to visit a whole group of local back gardens. At the time I wasn't sure if that meant that I could view them all for £3 or that I'd have to pay the fee for each garden that I visited. However, my friend Audrey said that it might be worthwhile to view a couple of gardens and see how we got on, so we arranged to meet in a house very near to my home. In fact all the gardens were within walking distance We presented our entrance fee and were told we could now view all the gardens if we produced the ticket each time we moved on to another house.

For a start, after months of rain, the weather was suddenly sunny and dry. That in itself was a miracle and made viewing so much pleasanter for everyone involved. Some of the gardens could only be reached by going through the house, so imagine having all these visitors trampling wet through your home. The owners must have been very pleased that this was not going to happen.
I haven't enjoyed myself so much for a long time. Each garden was very different from any other. Some were extremely tiny like my own, while others were very long and had divided the space into many little sections, some with lawn and borders and some with patios and gravel. There were vegetable patches and wild patches with ponds. Some gardens had hens in runs and another had beehives everywhere. Each had a different look and character. Some were inviting us to sit in comfortable garden chairs and have tea and cakes while others only had standing room in their tiny patches of land, but there was always someone there to give advice and the owners seemed to be very grateful for positive feedback.
I was able to get some advice as to why I was struggling to grow white flowered Jasmine on my fence. The lady who was able to grow it well in her garden, suggested that I put rabbit or hen droppings over the roots to give it a good start. Well that would be easy enough to try in our home. I couldn't wait to get out there with my rabbit droppings and trowel.

I was able to visit about half a dozen homes but unfortunately, time ran out so I missed two of them. I can't wait to go to the next batch of gardens but I doubt very much that they will be in my area. It was, apparently organised by the Bristol Botanical Garden Trust and thats were all the profits went to.

I wonder if other readers have ever had the chance to look at secret gardens in your area?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Seeking Comfort

Photo Copy: Maggie May

I am still seeking comfort from the pain I am in and nothing seems to help.
Sam took me to *that certain Swedish store* this week and although I had gone there to buy something else, I found myself sitting on one of these chairs and I was so comfortable that I could have fallen asleep.
I was urged to buy one and I didn't take much persuading. It came in a flat pack but for my carpenter son, that posed no problem and it was assembled in next to no time.
It is very comfortable and wobbles slightly balancing on its arms and legs in a soothing kind of way. Lets hope it doesn't collapse under my bulky frame.

In spite of the pain, I was able to sing in the concert last weekend in the Colston Hall, together with another excellent community choir singing alternately with us. I think both these choirs are the two largest community choirs in Bristol. We had been practicing a large selection of eclectic songs for months and when I developed this awful pain recently, I wasn't sure I whether I would be able to see the concert through.
I shovelled in the pain killers and was able to really enjoy the singing and the lovely atmosphere. There was a full house and judging by the applause, it went down well.
However, I'm beginning to wonder whether now seems the right time to drop out of the choir, with the summer holidays stretching ahead, as I am becoming quite suspicious about this persistent pain and I feel it is getting quite difficult to get about these days. I will see how things pan out over the summer.
I am continuing to hobble about and try to tidy up the house but everything takes much longer these days.
It seems that I am having to sacrifice more and more of the things that I want to do but can't.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Question Of Comfort

If you read my last post, you would know that at the time of writing, I was plagued by Sciatica  and all sorts of useful advice from blogging friends and family started to come in from that post as to how to overcome it.

 Sandy's mother was getting rid of a perfectly good double mattress as she was downsizing to a single bed to make more room in her flat. She had paid £1000 for it not very long ago and she asked if I'd like it as it was going to end up on the city rubbish tip. Usually I wouldn't consider a second hand mattress unless I knew the owner and knew that it was going to be clean, which I did on this occasion and I jumped at the suggestion. So Sam and Sandy brought it round and took my 15 year old mattress away to the tip. The old mattress was really hard and never very comfortable and Sam couldn't understand why I'd put up with such discomfort for 15 years but it just seemed too much effort to change it again.
Surely this new mattress would help ease my back problem?  
What I didn't realise was that Sandy's mother smokes heavily and the mattress, although in very new condition did stink of cigarette smoke and our night attire and bedding picked up the smell and had to be changed frequently. After spraying with fabric conditioner every morning and evening for a week, and leaving the mattress bare in front of the open window all day, the smell gradually decreased. The mattress is more springy than the old one, kinder to the bones and we did both get a better nights sleep.

Another blogger who I hadn't heard from for a very long time put me in touch with certain exercises for sciatica from the net. This got me interested in self help and I did a bit of research and found a simple stretch to ease the trapped nerve. This morning the edge seemed to be off the pain and I could walk a bit better so that seems to be the way to go. I'm all for self help and hope to cut the pain killers down soon.

So many thanks to all those who made helpful suggestions....... I really don't know what I'd do without my blogging pals (and family and non blogging friends too). You are all really brilliant.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Slow As A Slug

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

It seems that after a thorough examination by my Oncologist that I am suffering from Sciatica.  There is also a possibility that I am suffering from a stress fracture due to radiation treatment that will take a couple of months to heal if that is so. It is a relief that they don't suspect its anything more sinister but believe me, it is a very painful condition. 
I've had Sciatica before and its taken months to get right in the past. We seem to be prone to it in our family.

I'm hobbling around, sometimes with a stick and I'm trying to keep exercising as that apparently is the new way of dealing with it and not lying on a flat board like they used to do.
The pain killers make me feel sick but I can't manage without them.
I had lots of plans that I've now had to put on hold. In the meantime, I'm trying to carry on as normally as possible, allowing myself plenty of time for everything because I am now as slow as a slug.

I'd be interested to know what others do if they have this complaint. What has benefited you? 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Like A Butterfly

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

My posts seem to yo yo from happiness and good things happening to the very worst. I jump from one situation to another, just like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, drifting on the wind.

In my last post I was writing about always expecting the unexpected and I was really happy then. Suddenly my life has been turned upside down again by something unexpected and its not good this time.  I have been suddenly afflicted by really bad pain in my lower back and hip.
Before the days of cancer, I would have accepted it as sciatica because I have always been prone to that and used to go to the Chiropractor to put it right. Ever since being treated for cancer, I haven't been able to have any chiropractic treatment because it is far too risky and might break a bone, made fragile by cancer and radiation treatment. 

I wish I hadn't experienced a burst of enthusiasm last week, when I climbed the portable step ladder and painted two walls. I felt so good when I saw the transformation and had planned to paint two more. Its not as if I was doing a thorough job, like moving everything out and doing the ceiling and all the wooden paintwork. No, I was doing a cosmetic job and just lightening the walls and it was really looking better and made me feel good.
Now I have this awful pain and can hardly walk and I am obviously thinking it might be the cancer returning faster than I thought.
So, I have panicked and have brought my Oncology appointment forward by weeks and I am going today to be seen after the afternoon clinic finishes and to be prepared to wait a very long time, bring a book and plenty of Paracetamol because that is all I was advised to take for now. 

I will not find out anything today, only a scan can really tell me what is going on and believe me, the amount of scans I have had over the last two years is enough to give me cancer.  However, at least I will be in the system again and will get a physical examination and be put on a waiting list for a scan if the hospital think thats what I need. I will get advice on painkillers and such like. I have been down that road before and don't want to be doped up, but it is surprising how pain will change one's mind and in the end there is no choice. 
This post isn't meant to whinge but to be a source of therapy by writing and to be an account of what is happening to me for future reference. I regard my blog as a journal so I'm sorry if it is taken as a grumble. Its all part of the journey when I flit from one state of mind to another.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Unexpected

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Always expect the unexpected. Isn't that how the saying goes?
I am pretty good at that but sometimes my pessimistic side takes over and I can often expect bad things to happen.
This time though, I was caught by surprise and a good thing seems to be in the offing.

Better start at the beginning, Maggie.
My son's partner, Sandy had a funeral to go to and she wanted Sam to accompany her to the Channel Islands where it was to take place. I was asked to have the four children for the night which would involve picking them up from school, giving them an evening meal, getting them all to bed, making packed lunches for each one of them and taking the three girls to school the next day.
It was a bit daunting as I am only used to the two of us, but I agreed and got on with the task in hand. It all went very smoothly and I hardly noticed that I had four children in the house because they were probably all on their best behaviour. It was a really enjoyable time and we all got on very well.

The following afternoon I was on stand by waiting for a phone call, just in case the plane was delayed or anything and I had to pick them up from school and do another stint. (This is the kind of unexpected that I expect...... if you know what I mean).
Anyway with only about half an hour to go till school pick up time, Sam and Sandy arrived on my door step and excitedly told us about their trip and revealed their plans. They are getting married, probably next year and what is more they want to get married in the church where the funeral was because they both liked the vicar.
We are very delighted but surprised because they both seem very *alternative* in their taste for things and not into church at all. I think this was the biggest surprise about the church as I was expecting them to just live together, which we would have accepted.
There are now three ecstatically happy little girls and a boy who says he is happy about it but doesn't really understand what the fuss is about.
They have only known each other for six months but I've never ever seen my son so happy and that is what we parents want for our children in the end, isn't it?

So I think we should always expect the unexpected. What do you think about this?