Saturday, 23 February 2013

Cheerful Amaryllis

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Last December, Mr and Mrs Bluelights (my brother and sister in law) bought Harry and me an Amaryllis bulb that was already planted up, for our Wedding Anniversary. After a slow start and having to move it into a warmer place, I am really pleased that the flower head has now almost fully opened out and to my delight, another bud is emerging from the earth too that will give us a second show once the first flower is over. The flowers help to liven up these dull days. In fact, there has been a very sharp change in our weather and it exceptionally cold at the moment, which will not be good for either flora or fauna to suddenly have to face this severe weather after Spring seemed to have encouraged buds to open and birds to look at nesting possibilities.

I have been extremely busy lately as our son, Sam, has started a new job on a few weeks trial and as it is full time, on the three or four days that Sandy works, the children are dropped off for breakfast at our house and then they walk to the local school by themselves. Then shortly after 3.30, they call back here and wait until Sam picks them up after his work. I won't say too much about this job until we are sure that he is offered it permanently but we are all hoping that he does get the position because they really need the money and it would help them with all the planned alterations to their house that are in the pipeline but being held up through lack of funds. The downside is that he doesn't get school holidays so this might represent a bit of a problem! I think we are too boring and not fit enough to cope with them full time. We shall have to see what happens.

Most schools in Bristol had their half term last week but the school and college that my grandsons go to on the east coast had theirs this week and so my daughter was able to come for a few days with them. I expect that I have mentioned that my sixteen year old grandson, Rick is on the autistic spectrum and has good intellectual skills but very under developed social skills. He is not getting on well in college and I most of the time doesn't get there and he likes to spend most of his time on his computer or in bed. (I know that many teenagers who are not autistic like to do this too!) It is causing us all, especially my daughter, who is trying to cope with bringing them up alone and also running her child care business too, much worry. Rick is waiting to be seen by various organisations but I don't think there is much help that is available. It seems that they are all going through unchartered waters and being in a position where he is classed as not really a child and yet not really adult, either. Lets hope that their needs will be met and that Rick's not experiencing bullying or anything like that.

On a happier note, I was thrilled to received a cook book for vegetarian slow cooking from my blog friend,  Denise Nesbitt following one of my posts about buying and trying out a Crock Pot. I must say that some of the recipes appear to be delicious and I am seriously thinking of going completely vegetarian after all this horse meat scandal. Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly alright to eat horse meat if one chooses to, but completely wrong to slip it into products and charge high prices and disguise it as something else. That definitely is fraud.
I have been experimenting with fennel in casseroles and think it has a delicious taste. Does anyone else like fennel?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Bit Battered

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Its good to see Spring flowers peeping up again even though some of them look as though they are a bit battered. I must get out on the garden when I can. The weather is a bit more stable now and it good to know that better things are just around the corner. Lets hope they are, anyway.

I wrote about Harry's twin, Larry, waiting for his heart valve to be replaced about a month ago. I'm pleased to say that he is now recovering from the operation that he had last week. The three weeks wait  for the operation to take place while in hospital, seemed to pay off because he's to be discharged this weekend and he'd be way down on the waiting list if he'd gone home to wait for the operation.
I think some people from overseas, find our NHS system quite awful but we seem to accept it and it has seen us through some very serious things. It does seem to be a fair way to give everyone a chance and the wealthy can always go privately, though I don't think their actual treatment is any better...... just the trimmings and timing!
We went to visit Larry last night and it was so difficult to get into the right unit. Everywhere seemed to be locked up and we kept being directed to different places. It is a huge city hospital and Larry had been moved from one place to another. I was laughing that we might end up needing to join the other patients if we took much longer to find him. We eventually got to the right place and found we'd been searching for half an hour. He was sitting on the bed looking quite dejected as he must have thought we'd let him down as visiting time was half over by the time we got to the right ward but the nurse let us stay on for a bit of extra time to make up for it.

I was quite worn out by the end of the day because earlier, I had also gone to my friend Hetty's mother's funeral which entailed waiting around for buses and standing and walking for quite a long time, though as the crow flies it wasn't that far. The service was really beautiful, though and well worth the effort involved with getting there. She was a very strong Christian lady and had suffered a great deal during her last years of life. It was good to learn a little bit more about her and the life she had led. I always feel this when I go to a funeral. It quite amazing because I always think I knew someone quite well but realise that I didn't because that person had an interesting life long before our pathways crossed. 

I did have a very goodnights sleep after my very interesting but tiring day.
It isn't always easy managing without a car and I come from a generation that only uses taxis in a dire emergency, much to my children's amusement and exasperation.

I nearly forgot to mention that when I went to see my Consultant this month for my routine check up, he said that he now thought I now had a 50% chance of the cancer not coming back and said that the longer I go without a repercussion, the better my chances will get. So I must hang onto that.
Harry seems to be tolerating his chemo better than last time but I know its early days yet. So there you are ...... a complete update on our family health.


Friday, 8 February 2013

Was It An Angel?

Last week, we were watching BBC's Songs Of Praise and the theme was about angels.
For those who never watch the programme, let me explain that each week, there are a series of hymns interspersed with different people's experiences and a different church is visited each week.
I felt I needed to write down one of these testimonies, so what better place to start than on my blog?

A man was travelling by car with his wife and children, along a country road when he saw headlights coming towards him and he knew that there was going to be a head on collision with the car which was  on the wrong side of the road.  Even though the driver swerved to avoid the oncoming car there was an impact and he woke later, thinking he was about to die. There was broken glass everywhere.
His wife and children seemed unhurt and had been removed from the car by various helpers. However, the driver found himself unable to move and trapped by the legs. Smoke had started to appear from under the bonnet and nobody seemed to be able to help him.

There were woods all around the road and the man saw a dark figure coming towards him through the trees. Although there was thick undergrowth, the figure in a hoodie seemed to glide through it without any effort.
The figure looking like an ordinary person, opened the car door and sat unscathed on broken glass on the seat next to the trapped man. He put his arm around the man, who thought he was dying and who felt a tremendous energy coming from the figure and a sense of peace and calm was transmitted through his entire body. By then, the Ambulance and Police had arrived.
The figure started commanding everyone, telling them all with great authority, what to do.
He turned and told the man, "Whatever anyone may tell you, you and your wife and children will come through this and you will come out of it whole."
The figure then seemed to disappear.

The hospital he was taken to, wanted the man to sign a form giving permission to have his lower leg and foot amputated but remembering what the figure had assured him, he refused to do this.
I should imagine that the man thought he'd had a *near death experience* and that I was what I was thinking too.
However, what filled me with doubt about this was that the man did recover and his foot was saved but several weeks later, the Police came to interview the man and asked him, "Who was that man telling everyone what to do and where did he go?"
The ambulance crew were also wondering where the mystery man was. I suppose they wanted him as a witness and the fact that they'd all seen this figure made me think maybe it was an angel.
It would be interesting to hear what others think.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

New Hope Lurking In The Shadows

In England, it will be officially Spring
 in around six weeks time.
I was reminded of this only the other day, when I caught sight of my first snowdrop coming up in our garden.
These little flowers are like messengers bringing new hope. They come out quite unexpectedly from the hard, dark earth, often from under piles of old leaves and debris. That is why Spring is my favourite season. It always seems to bring new hope.

Last week I wrote about Harry's twin, Larry, being in hospital and the pair of them being quite unaccustomed to such a long separation. This made Harry very miserable.
However, Harry was given the all clear by his consultant to visit Larry because his white cells had recovered enough to give him adequate protection from ordinary illnesses. So he was able to get on the bus and visit several times over the last week. Next week he will be knocked back by chemo again so he won't be able to go for a few weeks.
Larry has to stay in the hospital where he is, (on the outskirts of Bristol) and wait for a bed to become available in our city hospital so that he can have his operation for a heart valve replacement.
If he goes home now, then he'll be put on the end of a 9 month waiting list, whereas staying put, he could have it done within the next few weeks. However, he cannot be given a definite date at this time.
This is the way our NHS is run over here. We get it free, but we have to wait. Of course we have all paid into the system over the years, somehow or other.

My sister in law is also causing some worry to us all as she is struggling with her cancer related health problems too. My brother, Eddybluelights has written his worrying account of it all on his blog. In spite of their problems, he has a good sense of humour, even if he does get really depressed about the situation at times.
If it all gets too much, I go and look at my brave little snowdrops and realise that Spring is just round the corner and that there is new hope lurking in the shadows.