Monday, July 31, 2006

A Day of Refreshment

Weather wise, it’s a wonderful day; I arose from the duvet lair, not too bright but reasonably early, just as my beloved arrived back with the main weekly grocery shopping. A few fleeting moments were spent together before she headed off to work and I coaxed myself into the shower room. By 11.00AM I felt sufficiently energized to walk down to ‘Open Church’, at St Marks, for coffee and a natter; revelling in the sensation (carried over from last evening) of being able to breathe more easily. The sun made a modestly successful attempt to burn its way through the cloud cover as I walked home but, there was no sign of the ridiculous cloying heat of recent days.

As soon as I arrived back home, I engaged myself observing the activity of butterflies and moths and attempted to take a few snaps, just as the breeze took hold of the Buddleia branches on which my subjects were perched. Shortly afterwards, the first rain shower of the day embraced me as I sat beside the pond; a wonderfully refreshing change, although I swiftly headed back to cover as the gentle rain was replaced by a downpour.

The lawn, after a couple of weeks of lethargy, looks as if every blade of grass has suddenly sprung to attention. I rejoice in the day’s refreshment!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Counting blessings and citing the curse

My mid-morning alighting from the duvet realm was today a most refreshing experience. On entering the living room, I was immediately bathed in the most refreshing breeze, as my beloved had opened the window wide as if in celebration of my emergence into the world of the day people. A breezily breathable day, that’s not far short of the ecstatic for me; it certainly washes away the residual cobwebs of melancholia from yesterday’s setback. Today, I feel able to share the joy of Dame Julian’s shewing that, “all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”! In terms of the love of family and friends, the wealth of nature in my own back garden, my sense of self-worth (although sometimes troubled by problems of health) I am blessed indeed!

There is much in the world that is indeed very unwell, man’s inhumanity to man and, that generally cynical viewpoint that charity begins at home, outrageous prejudice shown by people of religiosity … blah, blah, blah … I could go on … and on but …….

A sermon illustration I heard as a child still haunts me, it’s the one about the boy having to put together a jigsaw map of the world. His father was so surprised that he completed the puzzle so quickly, was he perhaps a genius, that even in childhood he was capable of reconstructing a map of the world? The child’s solution was, of course, much simpler; on the back of the puzzle someone had drawn a picture of a man, and the child had already observed what a man looked like; by getting the man right he’d managed to get the world right.

The problem is that politicians, financiers and religious bigots seem determined not to give man a chance to get right; we seem to be taught from an early age that self-interest is the only possible course of action and, one man’s self-interest quite frequently implies the blighting of numerous other lives.

But, I believe that “all shall be well”, so count me in on the side of the oppressed that I may work towards that goal.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Now the day is over ...

Another day draws to a close and, I offer a grateful sigh that the latter part of the day has been so much better for me than all that preceded it. Once more, in spite of the presence of a breeze, the heat proved quite oppressive. Even in the cooler part of the day my beloved noted that I was ‘roasting’; my body thermostat, which is always erratic, seems to have set itself to maintain maximum temperature at all times. Whether the breeze is supplied as a natural air current or, assisted by an electrical fan, it does little to prevent me ‘burning up’.

As the day went by, I felt increasingly frustrated and despondent with my inability to settle down to any task I set myself; no sooner had I started surfing the web than it seemed like time to ‘shut down’, the shut down of the machine reflecting that of my powers of concentration. By late afternoon, I seemed to be teetering on the edge of a depression, an acute bout of melancholia. Were I in perfectly good health, I still would be affected by the excessive humidity but, currently I feel totally defeated by it.

On a more positive note, I did manage to venture out for a brief brisk walk, in the company of my beloved, before settling down to preparation of a beef curry for tomorrows lunch. Having completed this domestic chore, we sat down to watch and enjoy Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps’; I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen this particular movie but, it never ceases to entertain. The accompanying beverage was a bottle of Edward’s Lake Unoaked Chardonnay, 2003, a quite straightforward but nonetheless satisfying product of NSW.

The possibility of sleep lures me towards the bedroom, having emerged from the duvet realm a full twelve hours ago. With these words, I bid any readers good night.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Something Borrowed

By way of recompense for yesterday's neglect of this blog, Mal’s Murmurings was not thus neglected, I proudly post the last two brief entries from Malcolm's blog on My Space.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A diplomatic standoff?
Current mood: content

Just looking out of the window and, it seems like there has been some kind of breakdown in diplomatic relations within the butterfly community. Close to the window, dozens of Peacocks have established squatters rights on the Buddleia. Meanwhile, beyond the garden pond, a similar number of Large Whites seem to have claimed sole possession of the lavender patch.

Currently the coppers, ringlets, tortoiseshells and meadow browns are nowhere in evidence. Can this deadlock be broken? Only time will tell.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Enter the Independent Observer
Current mood: contemplative

After yesterday's territorial stand-off in the butterfly realm, an independent observer entered the scene. Sapphire, a Burmese / Chinchilla cross puddy-tat, settled herself in the shade beneath the peacocks buddleia territory. As the observer rested, the lepidoptera continued dining on this prime territory.

Suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, a less than impartial stance was taken by the supposedly independent observer; she leapt towards an overhanging branch and, landed front paws together as if in prayer. Perhaps it was one of the peacocks ringleaders that she felt deserved such summary justice. A swift transfer of the prisoner was made, from claw to toothed gateway of the impending acid bath. Butterfly firmly clenched in her mouth, Sapphire proudly trotted off with her trophy.

I sure don't understand Sapphires diplomatic technique but, today small tortoiseshell, large white, red admiral, skipper and peacock can be seen browsing together on the formerly disputed territory.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Of Memory, Concentration and emotional Perspiration

So much seems to have been going on the past couple of days that, I’ve not even found the residual energy to post a blog. My memory says “yeah, you have had quite a bit going on”, meanwhile my concentration does it’s darnedest to prevent me logging into the memory store. I think one of the differences between memory and concentration is, whereas memory is that great reserve of data concerning what one has done, experienced, read, seen etc., concentration is the cash point needed to access this reserve. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember your PIN, so you’re unable to proceed with the transaction; meantime your attention wanders off elsewhere rather than being bothered to open up your password manager. The memories are there but, in my case, all too frequently I’m too easily distracted to utilize it.

I suppose that concentration is more to do with discipline and planning but, fortunately or unfortunately, my mind is more like an erratic grasshopper. I tend to have a very spontaneous attitude to life and events, undisciplined some might say but, since the onset of ME/CFS forward planning of any kind has become even more difficult. Even thinking about a forthcoming event can so often lead to a state of panic but, then again, for the past few years I’ve never known how I’m going to be in terms of physical and emotional stamina from one day to the next (the worst case scenario is, not even knowing this from one minute to the next).

Whilst memories may flow at a sudden prompt, one thinks of Proust’s Madeleines, concentration requires a much more positive input and, that’s where the emotional stamina dries up on me.

A panic state grabbed me by the trachea and chest yesterday morning; the cause was quite simply having to be up early in anticipation of a parcel delivery which would require a signature, failing that the items would be returned to the depot. Suddenly, I felt trapped in the house (even though I very rarely leave its environs) and, my mind flooded with fears that perhaps I would so desperately need the loo at precisely the time the courier arrived. This was not the best start to the day and, I all too swiftly hyperventilated …; there was no way I could distract myself, switch on the PC, switch off again, pick up a magazine and promptly put it down again. My chest felt like it was being held in a vice, the perspiration fell away from me like water from a Thames Water Board mains pipe but, I did manage to get a breathe as I forced myself into my 7/11 breathing routine.

The parcel arrived by 11.55AM but, that didn’t provide the relief one would have anticipated; in some strange way I felt cheated, had the delivery not arrived that day then I could have been justifiably angry! Perhaps I’ve mentioned before, at times of discomfort or sensory overload (my all too frequent companion in recent years) I become a real irritable sod and, intense anger could be ignited by the most trivial oversight on anyone’s part. Yesterday, as part of the waiting game and, missing my full night-time bed rest allocation, cramps, bruised ribs, headache, earache and toothache all seemed to be sneering at me; all I needed was the least opportunity to let fly.

It wasn’t until a couple of hours after the parcels arrival, I felt sufficiently courageous and energized to break the seal. The parcel contained a new computer base unit which I was to set up for a friend of my beloveds. Initial set-up went quite smoothly but, when it came to the installation of some major programmes they just didn’t want to play ball! I had to find some way to avoid the obstructions, which the supposedly automated installation programme kept putting in my way and, eventually managed to overcome its obstinacy. Thankfully, some other programmes, and files, presented no such problems. Some 150MB of updates and patches later, we were ready to roll. Those 3 ½ hours, spent setting it up are the most intensive operation I’ve performed for many a year and, the opportunity to just collapse for the evening was taken with great relish.

Even after a very relaxed evening, every nerve in my body seemed to be screaming when I rolled myself into bed, and the old restless legs were having a field day. My mind by this time was fully alert and, my need and desire for sleep was thwarted for what seemed like endless hours. Apart from the occasional intervention of severe cramps in my calf muscles, I did manage to rest on the bed until a goodly portion of the morning had passed me by.

Having prepared a somewhat delicious trout, pepper and mushroom topping for our jacket potatoes, the afternoon has been one of total idleness marred only by the stifling heat!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Moving Onwards

By Sunday morning the air had freshened a little, probably helped by our second thunderstorm on Saturday, and I actually managed to settle down to some reading before removing myself from bed. This morning, I followed the same routine, having discovered the appropriateness of that time, prior to the exertion of manoeuvring oneself from a recumbent position into a standing or sitting one, for the reading exercise. On this occasion I managed to read a couple more chapters of Richard Holloway ‘Doubts and Loves’ (subtitled What is left of Christianity?). A familiarity with the background and themes of this study makes the book very accessible and, I’ve long admired Holloway’s attitudes and his passionately committed type of writing.

Long gone are the days when I could immerse myself in the world of Dostoevsky’s characters and thrive, perhaps in an almost perverse way, on the resonances which insisted on merging themselves into my personal / spiritual experiences for years after. These days, I simply don’t have the stamina to cope with such drama.

Now, after that slight digression, back to Sunday; by mid-afternoon I managed a perspirational three quarters of an hour doing a bit of gardening, which produced an almost comfortable tiredness. It is really very satisfying to be able to report a couple of steps forward, after the retrograde effects of heat and humidity on my physical and emotional well-being.

Although the temperature is still a little high, for my hard to satisfy physiological type, I have no problem in rejoicing and giving thanks for this day the Lord has made.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

From Strobes to Showers

Around 2.00am this morning, the bedroom had its own personal strobe light display courtesy of a localized thunderstorm and, one always lives in hope that the air will have freshened as a result.

At 11.00am, I ventured into the garden to feed the fish but, it seemed as if my anticipation of a fresher atmosphere was to remain unfulfilled. The butterflies seemed to be enjoying the day, following their usual hectic lifestyle.

We're currently in the midst of a moderate rainshower, for which both I and the parched earth are extremely grateful.

Friday, July 21, 2006

SunnyDay Bloody SunnyDay

The sun has once again emerged with a vengeance, so I remain most of the time in the house, curtains drawn, and unable to think of what I could be doing. I’ve yet to make a start on my ‘concentration’ exercises; neither trying to get back into a reading habit nor, starting the editing of my proposed PDF publication, has occurred.

Even in my healthier days of yore, I was never a sun worshipper; these days, even my limited levels of activity are grinding to a halt, as the monotony of hot and humid days seem like they’re trying to squeeze subcutaneous fat out through my pores.

Brief visits to the pond, to feed the fish and, when necessary, top up and treat the water, have become something of a chore rather than a pleasant routine. Even under the shade of a pond-side parasol, ten minutes of relaxation seems a very long time as I observe the antics of the piscine inhabitants. Late evening is the most pleasant time to be out in the garden but, by then the fishes feeding times have long since passed. I long for cooler days, just as much as the parched garden yearns for rain.

If it wasn’t for the weather, what would us Brits have to talk about?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Perspirational Overload

With a degree of regret, I have to acknowledge that the radio weather prophet (see reference to Job’s comforter in previous posting) was right. Mid-morning I ventured down once more to ‘Open Church’, after a one week absence, the trek down being rewarded with breathable air. Shirt, cotton slacks and sandals, were the appropriate attire for the prevalent temperature, although it was several degrees cooler than of late.

After an enjoyable 50 minutes of conversation, the move out from the narthex, to travel the route back home, served to confirm the forecaster’s prediction of relatively high humidity. After even the contemplation of any activities being stymied, owing to atmospheric conditions over the past few days, it was indeed a refreshing change to venture out. Maybe the sense of relief was short lived but, I’m still grateful for the opportunity to have combined a walk with socializing activity after recent (heat) enforced denial of such outlets.

This posting is of necessity a brief one, as the laptops keyboard could soon be swamped by my perspirational overload once more.

A Little Gratitude

The early morning, as I lay abed, is dull and grey; for this I give thanks. My beloved announces that it has been raining, another cause for rejoicing. In the bedroom, the fan purrs and stutters; for the cooling breeze it supplies, I give thanks. Job’s comforter, courtesy of Radio 2, seems to be promising another very humid day; at this, I groan.

My beloved, who kept crashing out during her day off yesterday, actually managed to sustain her night-time sleep for a more reasonable time; for this I once more give thanks. I anticipate an easing of my glandular and muscular discomfort, which has been exacerbated by the recent heat wave and, I rejoice and give thanks for this day the Lord has made. Perhaps today, I can get back on course with my pacing.

“One step at a time dear boy”, I mutter to myself.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

If you can't stand the heat ... get out of the garden!

The sunshine may look glorious, the phlox and the gentian are blooming in the miniature rock gardens and, more water lily blooms have emerged on the pond. The lily flower in a shaded corner of the pond, shielded from the sun’s full glare by some newly unfolding leaves, is thriving whilst the suns glare tells the more exposed plant it’s time for early closing. I’ve not even managed to sustain a full five minutes out of doors, just a fleeting visit to feed the fish and replenish the bird table and bird bath.

My body thermostat is such that I still manage to overheat on cooler days, so current temperatures are quite simply unbearable. Leaving a fan running, in the bedroom overnight, enabled a little sleep but, during the day, the curtains seem incapable of blocking out the sun’s excesses. Leaving the windows open, at the shaded side of the house, has no more effect on the temperature than keeping the double glazing firmly closed. As I slowly melt in the warm humidity, my scheduled attempts at restoring my concentration are quite simply doomed to failure and, it’s just an impossibly stupid idea that I should even contemplate taking a walk.

Even in my healthier days, during a vacation gardening job (whilst a student) I managed to succumb to sunstroke but, recent days have seemed much hotter than the ones to which I then fell prey.

Typing this brief posting seems to have utilised my total reserves of stamina so, I bid any readers a fond farewell.

Addendum to Which Theologian for IE browser users.

For those of you using IE6 browser, the full list of percentages per theologian on yesterdays postings may not have appeared (apart from a 'miniature table). Mozilla Firefox displayed correctly. For those poor souls who only use IE here is the listing that should have appeared.

Jurgen Moltmann 73%

John Calvin 73%

Paul Tillich 67%

Friedrich Schleiermacher 67%

Karl Barth 53%

Augustine 40%

Anselm 33%

Charles Finney 27%

Martin Luther 20%

Jonathan Edwards 0%

Monday, July 17, 2006

Which Theologian Are You?

Although I find the Moltmann rating very satisfactory, I find it rather a puzzle that John Calvin gets a look in. Probably it's because, as is the nature of this sort of quiz, one is unable to qualify the reasons for a specific rating to certain questions. The percentage of Tillich comes as no surprise! I know why Luther comes so far down my scale; it's to do with the centrality of "justification by faith".
You scored as Jurgen Moltmann. The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.

Jurgen Moltmann


John Calvin


Paul Tillich


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Karl Barth






Charles Finney


Martin Luther


Jonathan Edwards


Which theologian are you?
created with

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Postcript to the dispirited blip

After yesterday evening’s slight downer, a traditional lazy Sunday has resolved any residual self-pity and, this dispirited blip, will definitely not be allowed to become an obstacle to progress. A few references to my lazily rewarding day can be found here.

In the meantime, a juicily herbaceous Pouilly Fume 2004 (Fournier Pere et Fils) accompanies our mid-evening's televisual entertainment.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

One Step Back in pursuit of Progress

It’s one of those evenings when I don’t really know what I feel; slightly queasy, that’s easy enough to say but, it’s the kind of emotional turmoil alongside this sensation that’s more difficult to define or describe. Tonight was going to be one of those big milestones on my way to recovery, following the steady progress that I’ve made over the past few months.

I’d been invited to a meal with members of the chapel that Helen attends and, has had strong connections with over many years. This Sunday, they will be having their final service and members of a larger chapel in town are their hosts for this special commemorative meal. I’ve been trying to do everything right, ensuring that I’ve stored up plenty of reserves in my energy bank, in anticipation of this night out.

This morning, after yesterdays ‘necessity imposed’ additional rest, I maximised my rest period and was eagerly looking forward to the evening. Mid-afternoon, as I sat and relaxed, the heavy perspiration and sense of dis-ease took over, I rested in my chair, feet thrown across a comfy leg support, until a bruising earache and sense of giddiness took over; that was my cue to go and lie down on the bed and, next thing I knew I’d had a good hours snooze. Reluctantly and dizzily, I waddled my way downstairs and found the nausea inducing heat of the day overwhelming. Took a dose of Gaviscon to quell the reflux in my oesophagus although, since I’ve been on PPI’s, that’s not been a problem too much in evidence in recent times.

As you can see, there were several differing factors at work militating against my making the stride forward. Retrospectively, I can see that ‘nerves’ were a contributory factor, at the culmination of prolonged anticipation of the event, alongside exhaustion (my long term companion) which had been exacerbated by atmospheric conditions. Although I was well aware that my beloved would run me home at any time during the meal, how I felt as departure time approached ensured that I would be incapable of contributing even a spark of conversation to the evening. I was overwhelmed by the sense that my presence was a potential dampener, on what was already an event likely to be tinged with sadness.

It really isn’t that long ago that I would have been unable to contemplate even provisional acceptance, of the invitation to attend such a celebration / commemoration but, now I’m feeling quite dispirited that, despite my efforts to prepare myself for the occasion, I was unable to carry it through! How do I feel, I still don’t know; I suppose that my decision to have even contemplated attendance can be construed as a sign of progress!

Friday, July 14, 2006

"We are such dreams as stuff is made on"

A couple of days in robotic early start mode and, you’ve guessed it, this morning was payback time. Everything seemed to be going well, despite the normal erratic sleep pattern, when I briefly surfaced into a state of semi-alertness around 7.00am. Next thing I remember is my beloved saying it was 9.00am, in response to my vague enquiry. That little mystery will be returned to later!

One and a half hours later, I managed to remove myself from the duvet snare and, bleary-eyed, directed my feet to the bathroom, in the mistaken belief that a shower would refresh me. I really enjoyed the shower but, didn’t feel sufficiently energised to apply my emollient cream before getting dressed. Perhaps the effort of donning shirt, pants and slacks, was the proverbial straw (that broke the camels back).

A five minute rest, on the bed, was rudely disrupted by the piercing ring of the telephone at around 12.30pm. maybe it’s not quite so bad as the fabled “lost weekend” but, it certainly raises the case of the lost morning! Lost hours twice in one morning, therein lies a far deeper mystery.

With the telephonic disruption, I misguidedly leapt (albeit in slow motion) from the bed,
brain-throbbingly giddy and disoriented. From that point on, a further brief rest imposed itself on me, as I struggled to make sense of the day.

Now this is the big mystery; in being suddenly startled by an external ringing in my ears, the concept that I had been asleep provided my “eureka” moment. If it’s only in waking we become aware that we had been asleep, under what circumstances can we affirm that we have been awake? Perhaps I am quite simply a dream!

By this time ma belle Helene had returned to the homestead and, I eventually got around to preparing a delicious salmon savoury rice for lunch. My mind and body remained haze laden for a little while until I made the bold decision, to permit ma belle chauffeuse to propel me to the garden centre. That visit has already been recorded on ‘Mal’s Murmurings’ so I won’t bore you with it here but, you can be bored with it here!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Taste of Progress

A relatively early start to the day, once again, and I’d already ventured down to ‘Open Church’ at St Marks shortly after 10.00am. Plenty of conversation was on the menu as several people, who I’d not seen for many months, were there for coffee or else en route to the Communion Service. Much to my surprise, more than an hour had passed before I felt ready to make the return walk home. This is such a vast improvement over what I was able to manage even a few months ago.

Having gone up to the garden pond, to feed the fish, a rest was called for and, I was able to relax in the knowledge that progress was being made. Of course, that early activity meant that I wasn’t able, or at least didn’t make the opportunity, to make a start on my ‘reading’ project. What I did find time for was a few short interludes in the garden, to see the wildflowers that had just come into bloom and enjoy watching the Small Heath, Ringlets and Meadow Brown butterflies that make such good use of the wildlife end of the garden.

Come the cool of the evening, having enjoyed a delicious ham pasta (a product of yours truly – of course) with my beloved, we ventured out into the garden; the better half busied herself clearing out some weeds, that have an incurable habit of trespassing upon the supposedly cultivated end of the garden, whilst I set to the task of topping up the pond. It really seems incredible, this summer, the amount of times I’m having to top up the water level; when this pond was first in situ we were up half the night baling it out, because of the torrential rain, and having visions of the fish being washed out and swept along the path into the drainage system!

After our modest endeavours in the garden, we retreat to the house and open a nicely chilled bottle of ‘Edward’s Lake Unwooded Chardonnay, NSW, 2003’, which appeals to both our palates. It’s with relief that I note we have several more bottles of this vintage in our cellar. We have been so fortunate recently in not having any dud wines to sully the palate. My favourite recent bottle was a ‘Chateau du Carpia, Bordeaux - Blanc Sec, 2003’, a quite special example of the Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blend.

And now it’s time for my retreat, from the blogosphere, to savour another glass of Edward’s Lake! I relax with ma belle amoureuse and rejoice in this day the Lord has made.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Looking For Results

Surprise, surprise; I felt quite wide-awake this morning around 7.00am, a quite unusual occurrence and, after a further doze I’d managed to release myself from the enslaving duvet and, found my way into the shower, by 9.00am. The excitement never ceases in this household. A leisurely application of emollient cream to the lower limbs was followed by a little nap before venturing downstairs.

As my beloved, on her day off, was heading into town to meet Beth, my morning was spent in typical idle fashion, disrupted only by the exertion of popping a few baking potatoes into the oven. For lunch I prepared a lightly spiced combination of trout, peppers, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, as a topping for the jacket potatoes.

The lunch was followed by a hasty departure for the District Hospital, chauffeured by ma belle amoureuse, where I had an appointment with Julie at the Chronic Fatigue Unit. The first part of the visit was spent catching up on my “progress” since the previous visit. The goals are always mutually agreed upon, to enable me with my “pacing” and the attention today turned to some concentration goals. I’d so love to be able to get back into reading so, I’ve to sort out a time or chapter scale (dependent on the book in question) for attempting to redevelop this skill. Alongside this, a side project is to get on with a little PDF publishing project, allotting specified short periods of activity to editing and re-arranging the volume from an accumulated wealth of material.

I have a little questionnaire to fill in before my next visit, the same sheets I had to complete before my first appointment; the questionnaire comprises Chalder Fatigue Scale, Rand Version SF-36 Physical Function, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

The only problem with the Chalder Fatigue Scale involves comparing how you’re feeling with “how you felt when you were last well”. As this condition goes back several years, the way I answer the questions will be rather different than if I had to compare my current problems with how I was six months ago, when I completed the first set of these questionnaires. Surely, this would provide more relevant information for the Department of Health, as they use the results to ascertain the performance of the Chronic Fatigue Service!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Guilt-edged Enjoyment

At times, an awful guilt overwhelms me because I’m only able to tackle a rather limited number of tasks per day. What makes it worse, when I’m travailing under this burden of guilt, is the knowledge that if I did tackle much more it would entail an enforced inactivity for several days following the extra effort. Problem is, being immersed in the Protestant work ethic, it’s so easy to consider oneself a human-doing, rather than a human-being. It’s always far easier to re-assure others, in a similar position, that they are valued and don’t need to do any more, than it is to convince oneself!

In general my self-esteem is very good, indeed there are some who think it’s far too good (veering towards arrogance), but that still doesn’t obliterate the demoralizing effect of guilt. I suppose what adds to the guilt is the fact that I do enjoy my life, despite the discomforting and debilitating symptoms that have tended to be my (not infrequent) lot during the past few years.

I am fortunate, and grateful, that recent months of carefully paced activity – finding a lower altitude plateau of activity than in days of yore, have seen a general improvement in my health but, it still doesn’t overcome an intense sense of frustration.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Missing Winks

As a child and a young man, I absolutely knew that Tennis was a game for ladies and toffs; it was certainly of no interest to this working class kid. Mind you, sport was not a particular interest of mine, although I did, for a while, enjoy the tribal pleasure of supporting my then local football team, Sunderland FC. In general though, sport for me was symbolised by the arrogant bullyboy attitudes of the PE and Games teachers it was my misfortune to suffer under! That breed of obnoxious creature was perhaps the primary reason that I hated secondary school quite as much as I did.

All this is a prelude to saying how enjoyable I’ve just found the Wimbledon men’s final between Federer and Nadal. I really think that the scoring system, in Tennis, makes for much more excitement than is possible in any other game.

Now comes my grievance; this afternoon I was desperately in need of a nap / forty winks but, watching those two guys on Centre Court would not permit me to do what usually comes far too naturally. They’ll have to make amends for that, somehow!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Showers of Blessing

I don’t know whether it was the tension of watching Wimbledon yesterday afternoon but, I was certainly shattered this morning and, required a little more bed rest than accords with my prescription. One of those weird bruised and tingling headaches, extending from the base of my neck and right across the back of my head, held me in its thrall until early afternoon; thankfully it had dispersed somewhat by the time I prepared a tuna pasta for lunch.

My afternoon’s mini horticultural effort has been recorded on Mal’s Murmurings and, since that report, a more sustained gentle shower has arrived; the garden exhales a thankful response!

Since pre-preparing Sunday lunch, hopefully enough of the special casserole to see us through the following two days as well, it was good to slump down in front of a hot cathode ray tube to be engrossed by the final episode of Series Two of ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC1) and, my beloved and I are currently enjoying ‘T in the Park’ (BBC3) and have been well satisfied by sample performances from Corinne Bailey Rae, Kaiser Chiefs, The Zutons, Franz Ferdinand and Placebo. At times like this, it’s rewarding to have a catholicity of musical taste.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Dentist, The Acupuncturist and The Cook

An early start, after a somewhat restless night, didn’t bode too well but, I’m still around to tell the tale. Ma belle chauffeuse drove me into town, and back again, for an early morning visit to my dentist; it was my good fortune, on this occasion, that no work needed to be done. Even the quick examination, followed by an equally swift scale and polish, is difficult enough to cope with, as I’m still very sensitive to bright lights and high-pitched oscillating soundwaves. It takes very little to jar my nerves at present.

Immediately on return home, a cigarette quickly found its way into my mouth, before I had a little rest. By 11.30am, suitably revived, I ventured up to the pond to rinse out the filters before applying a further treatment of ‘SludgeBuster’. A further period of relaxation followed, before my acupuncturist arrived to position the healing and energizing needles; now that’s a treatment I really appreciate and look forward to. This sceptic has been well and truly converted, and committed, to the efficaciousness of this healing art!

For the first time this Wimbledon, I tuned into the Tennis, to watch some of the scintillating match between Nadal and Baghdatis; a brilliant match, in which I found the tension almost too much to cope with. [Please bear in mind that the preceding sentence stems from one who doesn’t like Sport!] I boldly forced myself to break away from the game, to prepare an overdue meal for my beloved and myself. A delicious Trout, Peppers and Mushroom Savoury Rice dish was the result of my endeavours; the creativity, of cooking, helped release some of the tension that had taken hold of me whilst watching the match.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Still Learning after all these years

A combination of weariness, the heat of the day and, the odd aching twinge, militated against me taking a walk for the second successive day (see ‘Progress Assumed’ on Mal’s Murmurings). Come mid-evening, when the heat of the day subsided a little, I managed to unlock a little reserve from the energy bank and, released the lawnmower from its temporary hibernation. I actually managed to mow most of the lawn area as well as retrieving the grassy pathways around our wild-meadow area.

I do seem to be learning when to call a halt to any activity, in order to avoid the (previously habitual) wrecked status, which seemed to haunt me for the next few days following any form of exertion. Following the mowing exercise, I am now enjoying the company of my beloved, who also came to join me in the garden, as we enjoy some time together in front of the goggle box.

I am indeed a fortunate man.

Water Lilies and Visitor

A blooming marvellous time on the garden pond.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Taking advantage of Windows Genuine Advantage!

The Test Bed: Worm disguises itself as spyware?! - computer product reviews and news

Cool Clean Water gets me Steamed Up

It really is quite remarkable, the things we take for granted; it only takes one little snag to occur, in whatever we have planned, to make us grouchy and ungrateful and yet, we so easily overlook the plenitude of blessings which are our daily lot in the affluent world.

In the present heatwave, I must express my gratitude at having clean fresh drinking water on tap (quite literally) and, it’s even better to have it chilled, straight from the regularly replenished jugs in the refrigerator. I’ve got to admit a preference for drinking the fermented juice of the grape but, it doesn’t require too much reflection to realize water is so much more essential!

How much political and technical goodwill would be required to ensure that everyone on planet earth had access to a clean water supply? Why, in a world of plenty, do we allow people to go hungry and thirsty? Money can always be found for weapons of destruction (and mass destruction) yet, even in the developed world there are people who simply subsist rather than live.

Somehow, we all seem far too complacent about criminal levels of inequality and injustice, both at home and around the globe; we always seem to look out for number one, at both the personal and the political level, and ignore the social cost.

I was just going to make a quick comment about simple blessings but having visited the Dropping Knowledge website, earlier this afternoon, I felt obliged to ask a couple of questions. I’ve still got to post a question on the site but, I do really feel it’s a global initiative worth supporting. Will it have any effect? I don’t know, but we’ve got to start somewhere. 67 days remain until the Table of Free Voices assembles in Berlin; why not visit
and find out what it’s all about! It’s good to ask questions but, the answers may be a good deal harder!


PS 6 July 2006: You can see the first of my questions, to Your,here!

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Tinkerbell Moment and Boys Will Be Boys

Last night, a Tinkerbell moment, a tiny air bubble glowing in the full spectrum light! The tiny neon glow dances around, in close proximity to the waters surface. It’s the first time I’ve observed such a juvenile; it’s only with great difficulty that I’m able to see the semi translucent tail. I stare in wonderment; the mere millimetres long neon glow also possesses tiny sparkling eyes. Such solitude; I suspect that the adults had been enjoying eggs for breakfast sometime in the past couple of weeks and, this is the sole survivor.

In the non-illuminated tank, this morning, I look for this infant. Ten minutes later, through the semi-gloom, I bear witness to its darting dancing presence; such was my sense of wonderment last evening, I’d half expected it to have been a mere figment of my, and my beloved’s, imagination.

For the moment, the heavy-bellied female idles her time in glorious solitude. Across the tank, a frenetic wiggling occurs as the young males prepare to display, to fight and play. Fins erect like bold banners a tussle begins, testosterone at an all time high; the elder male, at times, keeps his distance; “they’ll learn one day”, I imagine the elder saying, “but boys will be boys. Was it really like that in my day?”

As spectator to these antics, I’m already beginning to feel exhausted but, it really is a wonderful display. Whatever the White Cloud Mountain Minnow lacks in stature, it certainly compensates for in terms of energy.

And now the chase of the female begins but, she’ll scatter the eggs when she’s ready.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Saturday Wonderful Saturday

N.B. The penultimate paragraph goes some way to explaining why this Saturday posting wasn't prepared until today!

Yesterday morning, and what a brave boy I’m becoming; another venture into town with my beloved chauffeuse, before the full heat of the day had time to make its impact felt. We found a parking spot and purposefully headed off to the store where I could spend the gift card still extant from my birthday. A previous visit ended in abject failure but, perhaps this time I would be a little more successful in my quest. I managed to find a couple of DVD’s for our collection, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’ (two disc edition) and ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’ (movie version), both in the ‘Sale’ at the store.

On our way to the store a notable distraction occurred, the opportunity to get close to a Honduran Tangerine Milk Snake at a new Exotic Pet shop. I missed the opportunity to handle one of the Royal Pythons, as the one sloughing its skin was closely entwined with a more temperamental companion.

I’m sure that I’ll be paying more visits to this pet emporium, even if only to visit Gilbert, the green iguana, but they have a wonderful array of parrots, lovebirds, rabbits, guinea pigs, spiders, skinks, gecko’s, fish and more. It’s wonderful to find such an environment close to home. I don’t feel capable of giving any reptiles all the necessary TLC at present, so I won’t be entering the realm of ownership. I get so much pleasure from our fish, in both the aquarium and the pond, the thought had crossed my mind that it might be good to have a pet that I could actually handle.

On our way back to the car, we stumbled upon a little brawl between a couple of yobs; it takes all sorts of events to make up the true spirit of our proud historic Spa town, but some we can well do without! At least both participants, and their friends, had elements of England regalia on their person so, it obviously wasn’t nationalistic rivalry.

In the afternoon, following a period of rest, I once more donned my chef’s mantle to prepare one of my unique beef curry dishes ready for Sunday lunch. It’s always good to allow plenty of time for the flavours to mature! Come the evening, having watched ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC1), switched on my laptop PC which started behaving in a very erratic fashion, making me wonder how a ‘logical’ machine could behave in such an apparently irrational manner. It took the consumption of at least a couple of glasses of ‘Gran Tarapaca’ Carmenere, Chile 2004, before I’d managed to resolve the problems. An even more difficult task was keeping an half-attentive eye on ‘CSI:NY’ and ‘Law & Order’ (both Channel 5) whilst sorting out the laptop’s glitches.

It was a perfect day in which I avoided the temptation to yield to frustration and, as always, delighted in the company of ma belle amoureuse.