Friday, March 31, 2006

Piece-rate Or Overtime?

Some members of the body’s SPT must be working piece-rate or, at the least, their CEO must have put them on some kind of incentive scheme. [More on this later.]

After the difficulties encountered during this morning’s relaxation routine, recorded on Mal’s Murmurings, any attempt at the day’s second session of breathing was maliciously thwarted; seems like the body resents the imposed discipline. Having listened to at least 99% of this afternoon’s play (on BBC Radio 4), which finished at 3.00pm, my next conscious recollection of the day was a rude alert, some 75 minutes later, when my beloved returned home. I awoke as a groggy wreck; the only problem is, I’d planned my breathing sessions for 11.00am, 3.00pm and 7.00pm, as they say “the best laid plans … blah, blah … blah …”.

Not to be daunted, by my record of abject failure, my evening relaxation routine duly started 30 minutes late. The first in-breath took the full seven count and, the out-breath maintained for eleven; so far, so good.

The second in-breath found me struggling at the count of five, in a ratio of 5/10 and, I felt like giving up. Third breath 6/12, repeated four more times; success of a kind! Next comes the rest part, retaining my upright but relaxed posture and, this time, it started well.

I seemed to retain concentration on the inflow and outflow of breath but, the relaxation and flow was spoilt by a quite frequent need to swallow hard. That’s where the SPT come into the equation; the body’s Saliva Production Team certainly seemed to be working hard to distract me, I certainly believe that they’re on some kind of overtime or piece-rate. I overcame the distraction, dear reader, believing myself the courageous soul I’d like to be!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The trials and tribulations of breathing

Just how difficult can it be to ‘breathe’ for relaxation? Darned hard is the answer. Yesterday, on return from the Chronic Fatigue Unit, I managed two sessions of my 7/11 routine with only a little effort being required. This mornings first session proved a little more problematic, the regimented routine proving too much of a distraction. (See Mal’s Murmurings “Of protracted catnaps and disciplined rest” for all the gory details).

The second session, today, managed to bring my long standing nasal problems to the fore and, the routine was transformed from 7/11 to a disrupted 5/8 pattern.

Come this evening, three attempts to begin the routine ended in an exhausted failure; suddenly it felt like a recipe for stress creation, almost as if my breathing apparatus (as a token of disapproval) had developed a kind of tracheal hiccups. As usual, my beloved thinks I’m being a little hard on myself, recognizing that I’m quite shattered from yesterday’s outing. How can one possibly induce rest and relaxation when they’re really tired?

What's your theological worldview?

I was quite surprised by one or two of the percentage ratings but, overall it pretty well has me sussed!

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Modern Liberal


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox


Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical






What's your theological worldview?
created with

The birds and the bees

The freshly re-sited nest-box is already turning out to be a real hive of activity. The blue tits, when not busy foraging for insects in the vicinity of a blossoming shrub, seem to be taking it in turns to pop into the nest box. With all these visits being made, I imagine that by now the bottom of the box will be well and truly moss lined and, it won’t be long before we’ll be able to witness home deliveries of food being made to the sitting (brooding) tenant!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More Fish Tales & Taking A Breather

Although I’ve been feeling quite washed-out, for the last couple of days, this morning’s early sunshine led me out to the garden; I re-sited the bird-box (once more), my beloved having recognized some dangers inherent in its current situation. More detritus had gathered on the pond’s surface, following the past couple of days blustery weather phase, so a little more net work was called for but, it was also good to notice that the pond now displays copious bunches of frogspawn after the recent false alarm. One of the baby goldfish was out on a scouting expedition but, it seemed that the ‘oldies’ just couldn’t be bothered to surface. [At least the White Cloud Mountain Minnows, in our aquarium, are currently giving us a better show for the money. The young additions to the aquarium seem to have given the older residents a new lease of life!]

Having carried out my pond check and, fastened the nest-box on the sawn-off end of one of the apple tree boughs, I could rightly feel that my brief spell in the garden had been quite fruitful!

This afternoon, my beloved chauffeuse drove me over to the Chronic Fatigue Unit, at the District Hospital, where I spent an hour with Julie (Senior Occupational Therapist). Most of the session was spent providing her with some background to my condition and, she duly set me some homework, with a few general tips about ‘pacing’. The homework is all to do with relaxation; 7/11 breathing for 6 or seven times followed by a period of rest, total duration (using a timer) 15 or 20 minutes, the routine being carried out three times a day at approximately the same times. It is the discipline of a regular routine that will be the major problem, for me, rather than the exercise itself. By the time our session was finished, a slow stroll back to the car proved sufficient strenuous exercise for the day!

March to New Orleans

"Over five days earlier this month, around 200 veterans, military families and survivors of Hurricane Katrina walked 130 miles from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans ...."

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | 'If you start looking at them as humans, then how are you gonna kill them?'

Monday, March 27, 2006

The helplessness of the long-distance spellchecker

The intended word was EMERGE, instead of which the typed word was IMMERGE. On questioning why the Spellchecker hadn’t spotted the mistake a discovery was made; immerge is similar in meaning to the word immerse, almost diametrically opposed to the sense of emerge.

Of course, were the rather more rare IMM word to be deliberately used in conversation, chances are that the listener would assume the EM word was intended; hopefully the context would enable the truth to emerge. Life gets confusing at time but, as has frequently been said, “the meaning of a word is its use in language”.

Occasionally a difficulty arises as to what is a word and what is language.

Liberal Leftist Christian Fundamentalists?

I think I’ve heard it all now; the Christian Warmakers on, and calling in to, the ‘Jeremy Vine Show’ accused the Ekklesia spokesman and the Christian Peacemaker Teams, in the space of a few minutes, of being both Christian Fundamentalists and Liberal Leftists. They must be doing something right!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Reasons or Excuses

A bit more tidying up of the pond, whilst the sun shone briefly yesterday, followed by a pub lunch; playing about with graphics programmes on my PC today; such minor tasks at times take an undue toll on my energy reserves. Once again you find me making excuses, or should that read giving reasons, for not having contributed anything to the blogosphere! Each time I’ve attempted to put down a few words, they failed to flow and, I simply didn’t have the stamina to work at it.

Beth and Cathy took my beloved out for Mothers Day lunch today then, briefly called back chez nous.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Looking for Signs

Another bright sunshiny day but, the chill factor seems to prevent much activity in the garden pond; the water temperature has rarely attained the minimum temperature (4 centigrade) required for the fishes ‘low temperature’ wheatgerm feed.  I netted out a bit of debris and, that was pretty well the sum of the day’s aquatic activity. After that gentle activity, I did also manage to put out some seed (and replenish the peanuts) on the bird table and, treated the compost bin’s contents to some magic elixir to speed up the decaying process!

I have plenty of seeds ready to create, or intensify, a ‘Butterfly Friendly Wild Flower Meadow’ at the top end of the garden but, I await the right “warm and moist” conditions for sowing them. Perhaps, after our much colder than the norm first three weeks of March, we are entitled to expect a mild Spring. I still await my first sightings of the  red-tailed bumblebee, 7-spot ladybird and, frogspawn for the ‘BBC Springwatch Survey’.

I still manage to rejoice in this day the Lord has made!

BREAKING NEWS! 'Free At Last' Christian Peacemakers Released - SojoMail 03.23.06

BREAKING NEWS! 'Free At Last' Christian Peacemakers Released - SojoMail 03.23.06

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pinned Down but Not Out

After yesterday’s socializing, I really felt quite enthused and started thinking about what should be my next venture back into the ‘normal’ world. This morning, however, I was rather exhausted following a night of intermittent dreams and wakefulness. After taking a shower, and getting dressed, I needed 40 minutes to 1 hours rest (on my bed) before I could consider any further activity.

Come the afternoon, I went out with my beloved and managed a twenty minute brief brisk walk but, I have to admit that the last half of it was quite a struggle in terms of back and leg aches and general feeling of swimmy fatigue. A true sign of progress was the relatively swift recovery from this modest exertion.

At 5.00pm, my physiotherapist/acupuncturist arrived for a chat and to give me the needle. It’s strange how one can never predict quite what sensation will be emitted from the insertion channel. For all my initial scepticism, I never cease to be amazed by the difference these treatments have made to my pain levels. Whilst the treatment session is in progress, it always proves to be a time of amazing relaxation; nothing to do but watch my breathing as, for that period of time, I’m rather (in the words of my therapist) “pinned down”!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Refreshing Change

Quite an eventful morning by my standards; whilst my beloved was taking a shower the doorbell rang so, I raised myself from the duvet realm and trundled down the stairs to receive a case of wine and, decided I may as well get up (and dressed) a bit earlier than has been the pattern of late. As the night had been quite a restless and discomforted one, I felt somewhat uncertain regarding the wisdom of this decision.

Mid-morning, stepped out with ma belle to confront the icy blast and, bumped into Paul, the vicar of St Marks (the church I used to attend before my health took a turn for the worse a couple of years back). As we ventured on down the road, decided to pop into ‘Open Church’, at St Marks, for a coffee and a warm welcome. It really was quite rewarding to meet up with old and new friends and, I hope to repeat the exercise in the not too distant future, physical and emotional stamina permitting. I might even attend the Thursday morning Communion, one of these days; I might be able to cope better with this, than the lengthier Sunday Services. I really have been missing the sense of fellowship during my prolonged sojourn in the incapacitated wilderness!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Brain Pattern

Your Brain's Pattern

Your mind is an incubator for good ideas, it just takes a while for them to develop.
But when you think of something, watch out!
Your thoughts tend to be huge, and they come on quickly - like an explosion.
You tend to be quiet around others, unless you're inspired by your next big idea.
Only problem is, the ideas never get beyond the drawing board - even after the prolonged incubation period!

Crazy World

What a topsy-turvy world we’re living in; on the third anniversary of the Iraq War we have Dubya still proclaiming how much progress has been made, whilst Iyad Allawi, former interim PM, declares ‘Iraq in civil War’. Although some analysts regard Allawi’s remarks as political manoeuvring, I cannot help but sympathize with his remark, "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."  

Elsewhere, we  read of a situation in Iraq where “From a physician's viewpoint, liberation means rising infant mortality, critical shortages of medicines, terrorized doctors and the return of diseases once under control.”. It certainly puts some of our concerns about the NHS, here in the UK, into perspective.

In the UK we have a new church calling itself the Christian Council of Britain, “a group set up to represent Christian values and the Christian Heritage of the country”, which is facilitated by the BNP. It does seem strange that the BNP should use Hebrew Scriptures to support their racist ideology and, should wish to describe themselves as defenders of the values of Jesus the Jewish troublemaker. The Methodist Church has already spoken out against the CCOB.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Bit Of An Effort

After a slow start to the day, I managed a brief not so brisk walk with my beloved around mid-day. It’s quite remarkable how much energy seemed to be used up on a ten minute visit to the grocery shop, at the beginning of the walk, making the short stroll much more of an effort.

By mid-afternoon, my energy was sufficiently restored to enable me to spend an hour on preparations for tomorrow’s lunch, a spiced and herby moussaka variant. If the result is even half as splendid as the cooking aromas suggest I’ll be well and truly satisfied.

Friday, March 17, 2006

What's This

My current levels of concentration [see Progress On Hold and A Temporary Setback on Heterocon] are such that, it seems something of a miracle to even get this far in a posting. Only problem is, I’ve forgotten what I intended to post! Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Little Night Music

Bluesy, Jazzy, Ballsy, Tender … Alison Moyet is just an amazing chanteuse. Along with my beloved, I’ve just been watching, and listening to ‘One Blue Voice Live’. Apart from the incredible vocal stylings of Ms Moyet, the musical arrangements, presumably by Steve Corley (Musical Director & keyboards) were quite simply impeccable. A glass or two of ‘Willy Willy Shiraz, 2004’ provided an ideal accompaniment.

Despite the rather melancholy subtext to many of the songs, one couldn’t help but be uplifted by the overall performance.

Control Arms - teleshopping

Why not pop by and see the latest offers!

Control Arms - teleshopping

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Counting the cost

Monday’s Curtain Call, not totally unexpectedly, took its toll; it’s only in the past half hour that I’ve started to feel remotely human once more. The frequency, with which such modest degrees of exertion have a disproportionate negative effect on my sense of well-being, proves intensely frustrating.

I have to admit, that a few weeks back I wouldn’t have even contemplated performing the task imposed by the inconsiderate behaviour of the old curtain track. My bold assumption is that normal progress, on the health front, will soon be resumed!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Curtain Call

A LITTLE ACTIVITY GOES A LONG WAY but, unfortunately, it feels as if I’ve gone a lot further! Having clambered across the arm of a sofa, to access a wall cupboard, I managed to miss my footing and, as my leg crumpled beneath me, I flailingly reached out for an object to hold onto. The closest object to hand was the back of the self-same sofa which had provided my initial obstacle course. The sofa itself is backed up to the curtains; the rail on which the curtains theoretically glided but, in reality stuttered along, had been in situ for 20+ years and, had obviously reached a stage of plastic fatigue. The combination of hand on sofa back and sofa back on curtain, led to a phase of total collapse; fortunately not mine! Several of the rails supporting brackets chose this moment to emphasise their frailty, simultaneously fracturing, as the curtains and their track, spontaneously and unceremoniously, demonstrated the laws of gravity.

First port of call, for my beloved et moi, was the DIY store. A 2.2 metre rail was swiftly acquired but, the installation procedure involves a practise far less simple than the instructions suggest. Fixing the brackets proved quite straightforward (well to be honest slightly crookedly-forward) apart from minor glitches. Fixing the track onto the brackets was in principle equally simple, but the precise positioning of the bracket latch required a little more manual dexterity than this fatigued human-being could initially muster. Perspiration and giddiness are not my favourite companions whilst perched on top of a stepladder.

What should have taken perhaps 20 to 30 minutes, in practise took about 1 hour and twenty minutes but, I have to admit it only felt like an eternity. Task completed; the curtains do actually glide along the track and, for the first time, we have a curtain rail that extends beyond the actual width of the window. The curtains seem to hang better than before; I only wish I had the energy to rejoice in this minor task successfully completed.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A False Dawn

Methinks the frogs on Thursday were simply out for a practise run; the evidence for their temporary bout of frenetic activity is nowhere to be found. No frogspawn to be seen but, at least my preliminary tidying up operation means less work to be done when signs of Spring once more reassert themselves. For the time being we are back under the spell of more wintry conditions.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Slaving and Salivating

After yesterday’s day of de-activation, I’ve almost managed to stay awake today; I even managed a twenty minute brief brisk walk this afternoon. At lunchtime I prepared a salmon pasta for my beloved and myself and, towards the end of the afternoon (whilst listening to ‘Jazz Record Requests’) prepared tomorrows Chicken casserole –  a kind of hybrid Anglo/ Spanish/ Mexican concoction –  and par-boiled the potatoes in my special spiced & herby infusion, ready for roasting.

My traditional weariness (sore throat, burning eyes and inadequately synchronised lower limbs), was satisfactorily re-united with a cramp-like pain between the shoulder blades as I slaved over the hot stove. Apart from that it has been a reasonably good day. Ma Belle Helene prepared me a delicious bacon and black pudding sandwich as fair recompense for all my endeavours; it’s truly good to know that my culinary endeavours are so well appreciated!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Emergency Measures

A temporary mild spell of weather is now with us, an opportunity to check up on the pond once more and, remove the netting which has covered it since autumn. This morning’s visit proved timely indeed, as the first frogs had found their way to the pond. An emergency rescue was called for, as a copulating couple (of frogs I hasten to add) had managed, in their frenzy, to become entangled in the net’s edge. After a few minutes of careful manoeuvring, I was able to release the inseparable pair from this unintended snare.

Whilst up at the pond, I decided to do a bit of trimming back of the pond weed and, removed a little of the detritus that had somehow evaded our precautionary net. For the first time this season, I was able to watch a couple of the larger goldfish as they made a brief visit towards the pond’s surface; obviously the water temperature has risen a little from its recent rest within, and beneath, its hard ice shell. No sign of the baby goldfish today but, it’s still exciting to observe the signs of changing seasons.

By my standards, it turned out to be a rather busy morning but, I’m still alert enough to tell the tale. Much to my surprise, I’d even managed to take a shower without needing a rest before I applied myself to the task of getting dressed! Things are certainly starting to look up but, I still carefully listen out for my body’s request for rest.  

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blair's Friend is not (even remotely) amused!

Guardian God: I've lost faith in Blair

Fish Tales

Having freshly (perhaps irritably drowsy would be a more honest expression) emerged from twelve hours in the land of nod, sluggishness seems to be the keynote of this pre-noon hour. The sore throat and quietly nagging headache are quite familiar companions and, a swift application of wrist and elbow supports to my left arm are easing the aches in that quarter, so I boldly face a brand new (though miserably grey) day.

First point of call is to check up on the aquarium; after yesterdays cleaning up and plant replenishment exercise, the two freshly acquired White Cloud Mountain Minnows are certainly very active but, they seem so tiny alongside their fellow residents. NO2 and pH levels are fine, so it’s all in the hands of Mother Nature. It seems that no matter how carefully one filters and monitors an aquarium, one can never guarantee the survival of its occupants but, at least I attempt to give them a relatively pampered existence.

Overall, I still feel that health wise I am on a gentle upward curve; the spirit is certainly willing.


PS. Heterocon has filled in the gaps regarding my activity/inactivity of recent days here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

New Beginnings

Not quite so brilliant a day (see Fighting Fit on Heterocon’s blog) but, I am really beginning to feel that, health-wise, I’m on an upward curve. My early morning bruised and shattered feeling has, already, eased itself into a simple sluggishness.

Around lunchtime, I ventured up to the garden pond, to see if the ice is thawing or whether it needs a little assistance; perhaps 60% of the surface is still iced over but, today’s routine check also provided a bonus for me. At first I thought I’d seen a tadpole but, as we’ve not yet had any spawn in our still netted pond, that didn’t seem like a possibility. Eventually, I spotted two baby goldfish swimming near the ice sheets edge. None of the adult fish have yet seen fit to surface but, nor would I if it meant being so directly exposed to prevailing wintry conditions.

Helen has gone out for her first afternoon of paid employment, since having to take early retirement from teaching (on health grounds) in 2003; it is indeed a day of new beginnings!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Making Tracks

more things in heaven and earth ...

God put me on earth to entertain people”, so said Suzi Quatro on The Heaven & Earth Show (BBC1). I’m not questioning the sincerity of the remark but, I just thought how easy it is to say that when one has spent most of their life in showbusiness. “God put me on earth to be a shelf-stacker, an accountant, a clerical assistant, a till operator”, somehow for me can never carry the same conviction.

What if the breaks hadn’t come for SQ, as is the case with so many talented would be entertainers, and she had to put her showbiz career on the backburner, would she still so confidently express that “God put me on earth to entertain people”? It’s all far too glib a statement to make ex eventu. Or perhaps there’s an underlying fatalistic acceptance of a caste system; is everything pre-ordained and, our life choices simply an illusion?

A further point, raised on the Heaven & Earth Show; did Tony Blair simply say God would be the judge on the Iraq war, or was there also an implication earlier in the interview (as suggested by Peter Tatchell) that the war was God’s judgement? As I didn't see the Parkinson programme, I'm not sure what delusional tendencies I've missed!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Delightful Dilemmas

Why is it that a derelict building in a cityscape becomes an eyesore, whereas the tumbledown remnants of a building in the heart of the countryside strike one as ‘romantic’? What prompts this enquiry is the return journey from visiting some friends in Leeds.

Once I overcame an initial panic attack, this was after all the furthest afield I had travelled during the past eighteen months; I enjoyed observing the man-made rural landscape, the patterned hedgerows sometimes complimenting, at others sharply contrasted with, the gently undulating countryside. Nothing jarred; the occasional agricultural dumping ground or, even the odd quarry site, whilst a scar to some, for me had that sense of belonging and, as we passed a decrepit old stone building, rafters akimbo, with vacant gaps where once was a window frame, it seemed worthy of a place in a C19 painting.

For several minutes, I delighted in the variegated green patchwork of fields but then, as we followed the road’s gentle curvature, the fields were still blanketed in pristine snow; somehow these areas had fallen outside of the sun’s catchment area.

It is wonderful to enjoy these simple adventures, in realms not much more than a giant’s stone throw from one’s own doorstep.

Friday, March 03, 2006

and so we turn to snow

Garden View

Taking It Calmly

For each step forward, on the health front, I’m currently experiencing only half a step back; that for me is real progress. Apart from a stiff and tender neck and, the persistent numb throb and ache in my left wrist and hand, the only obvious ailments have been yesterday’s throbbing ache around the eyes accompanied by a generalized muzzy headache. On Wednesday, I gratefully received another acupuncture treatment which certainly seems to help. Thursday was the first day, for some considerable time, that the ache and discomfort in the wrist and hand was not in evidence.

Even my somewhat antisocial irritability/anger response is somewhat in abeyance; yesterday the doorbell rang as some cold callers (canvassers or market researchers) turned up, standing adjacent to our cold callers notice*. Rather than my usual aggressive knee-jerk response, I calmly pointed out to them that “owing to an incapacitating illness, I am unable to spend time talking to unsolicited callers, hence the notice”. The callers were actually quite apologetic and, I now recognize that (health permitting) a calm response is perhaps more effective than an aggressive one.

* “For Health Reasons COLD CALLERS are NOT WELCOME. Please Respect Our Wishes”