Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mixed Blessings

All week I’ve been awaiting the arrival of the forecast mini heat wave and, each day offered up my grateful thanks that it hasn’t arrived. Friday proves much warmer, with radiant sunshine from an early hour; I actually ventured out and sat beside the garden pond at an hour when I would normally still be in the duvet realm. By 11.00am it was getting rather too warm so I moved into the new shed to dabble in a little watercolour painting; that’s two days running I’ve attempted to refresh my skills in this particular pursuit, the shed proving much more convenient than the loft space studio. If only my energy resources could be boosted a little more, I may be able to get as much painting done as I managed to fit in on top of my full-time employment.

Late afternoon our friends, from t’other side of Pennines, arrived in Harrogate after a somewhat more arduous journey than had been anticipated; it surely is amazing how traffic hold-ups can almost double the duration of such a journey, my total nightmare scenario. Having taken a little time to unwind at their hotel, my beloved transported them chez nous to share our evening meal and a few glasses of vino. Come evening, the temperature was more conducive to sitting out beside the pond.

This morning, Saturday, I was somewhat shattered with muscle and joint pains struggling to convince me I was awake whilst the soul sought a further bout of sleep (preferably of that all too rare refreshing kind).. Come late morning, a friend from Helen’s schooldays (visiting the area for a few days) called around to visit us and, we ventured out to the pond-side seats once again. The heat proved all too much for me within 30 minutes and, by the time Helen returned a la maison she found me flaked out on the bed. The combination, of heat and socializing, sure takes its toll on this ailing frame of mine. Great as it is to meet up with old friends, my body doesn’t quite appreciate the spirit’s enthusiasm for such endeavours.

Despite my best intentions, the good weather seemed to militate against a further meeting with our Lancastrian friends this afternoon, about which I feel somewhat guilty. Although these little setbacks are far from unknown to me, I still have an intense sense of frustration when even the most modest of socializing plans come to nought! At least, having learned to listen to it, my body forewarns me, at times, when I’m nearing my exertion limit; for that I’m extremely grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why not flutter by Mals Factory?

A freshly minted poem, FLUTTER BY MOMENT, sparked by the shirtsleeve incident, can be found on Mal's Factory

Shirtsleeve Plays Host

Yesterday was one of those days when, although the threat of another rain shower seemed omnipresent, the sun did manage on several occasions to break through the cloud cover. In many ways it was the kind of day I prefer, sufficient breeze to prevent the atmosphere from becoming too hot and cloying. Like most people, I love to see and feel the sun shining brightly but, at the same time, my body has a quite low tolerance level for heat. My body thermostat being somewhat erratic, I can sweat profusely with the least prompting and, feel even more drained than my familiar norm once the thermometer rises beyond the upper teens (centigrade).

This was not always the case but is rather something that emerged with the onset of my illness. [Admittedly, I'm one of those rare people who managed to suffer from sunstroke in the British Summer, whilst doing a vacation job as a gardener in my student days.]

As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself, yesterday was one of those kind of days that I enjoy tolerating. I even managed to spend some time sat on the garden bench, beside the pond, whilst my beloved carried out some serious weeding duties in one of the garden borders. Whilst sat there, I was privileged to receive an immigrant visitor, A Red Admiral butterfly, to whom my shirt sleeve played host as he basked for a few minutes during one of the intermittent sun showers. This was my first sighting this year, in our garden, and it was a real pleasure to share those few intimate moments. Although many of the flowers have played host to both large and small whites, tortoiseshells and meadow browns, the presence of the Red Admiral suggests that summer is really here, no matter what the weather may seem to say!

In this part of the country the Buddleia blossom has just started to open, so I look forward to many more Lepidopteron visitors.

But You Don't Look Sick

"Yesterday, I heard yet another person complaining about people being on the sick unnecessarily & get free cars etc. I do wish some people would realise that some people are disabled even though they look perfectly normal. To get any sickness benefits you have to go through rigorous medicals."

The above is an extract from an excellent, heartfelt, blog post on our judgemental attitude towards those people unfortunate enough to have an invisible disability.

To read the full post click here or copy and paste the following link :

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Everything Give Thanks

Although the day started rather muggy, despite a moderately forceful breeze, the atmosphere became fresher as the day progressed; a welcome opportunity to sit beside the pond surveying our modest estate. It’s one of those times when I’m rather overwhelmed by gratitude for these simple delights right on my own doorstep. The sudden sighting of a few baby frogs, emerging from the gardens southern border and, other more mature specimens whose camouflage prevented me from spotting them amongst the ponds vegetation.


First thing this morning, bearing in mind that my “first thing” is usually a couple of hours after my other half has gone off to work, I notice a manila envelope on the doormat from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) and, it’s with relief that I discover that the next medical assessment review, regarding my Incapacity Benefit, will be due on 8 July 2013. The actual date becomes something of an irrelevance as I will be in receipt of a State Pension from June next year! One side of me thinks it would be really great if I was able to present myself as fit for employment before that date even; at least that would mean I was well enough to pursue some of my former social pursuits. Fortunately, our financial needs are relatively modest; we don’t go in for an extravagant lifestyle even though the wine-cellar suggests otherwise!


This morning I ventured down to ‘Open Church’, for coffee and a chat, where the narthex was a real hive of activity as differing groups of toddlers and infants spontaneously and positively interacted. It’s always a treat to catch up with some of the regular, and not so regular, visitors to these weekday coffee mornings. On my return to the homestead, it was great to enjoy the aforementioned outdoor inactivity. I did manage to exert myself sufficiently to transplant a few of the overcrowded tomato plants from the greenhouse to a sheltered spot in the garden border.  [Actually, they were rather sickly specimens which I’d already put out freestanding in their pots, where the wind far too regularly took advantage of their precarious stance!]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reelin' and Rockin'

I’m reeling somewhat from the verbal abuse delivered by the big boss; all that I’d done was use my lunch hour to visit a friend. What he’d seemed puzzled about was my expectation, that it was possible to visit an antipodean friend, at home, during my lunch hour. Yes, I know that it took a little longer break than usual, to travel halfway around the world and back but, I also know that he’s extended his coffee breaks on numerous occasions.

I wake up feeling battered and bruised; it’s hard to believe that a barrage of words can cause such physical damage. Thank God, it was just a dream; don’t think I could have taken much more of this stress. The dream was so ludicrous anyway, a couple of hundred yards is the furthest I’d ever travel during a lunch break and, my aversion to travel, makes the dreamt adventure seems suspiciously representative of some subconscious masochistic yearning.

My beloved suggests a plausible connection between my dream and very recent reality. Yesterday afternoon, after many hours of restful inactivity in preparation (on my part), ma belle chauffeuse drove me to a barbecue*, some twenty five minutes away from home; most of the journey was on the A1 before manoeuvring our way through a couple of potholed, spasmodically flooded, country lanes. Even that little journey provides me with sufficient stress induced exhaustion.

Once we get there, I recover sufficiently to become, temporarily, my old sociable self, contentedly sharing conversation and anecdotes with the assembled company. The company and the pastoral location prove most rewarding but, that doesn’t prevent a state of mind and bone numbing fatigue overwhelming me by 9.00pm. Everything around us is still in full swing but, I can’t risk overdoing it!

So, here in the real world, I recognize that this small excursion is my equivalent of that travel so casually undertaken by my dream-self!


* for more details of the barbecue see my beloved's posting on her Bright Light blog.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Freshly Minted

GREY DAY, a freshly minted poem, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'

Of Rain, Needlepoint and Relief

Just one of those familiar night alerts; I wake suddenly to obey a call of nature. Look at the clock but, owing to the darkness, fail to believe the time it tells. The display tells me that it’s three forty-five (am) but the enveloping darkness suggests somewhere between midnight and one (am); an ominous start to the day. Elements of the dawn chorus drift through the open window, striving to affirm clock time.


I soon drift back into the realm of sleep and on re-awaking, some six hours later, the light (or relative absence of such) suggests a much earlier time than that the chronometer tells. Torrential rain seems to have set in; my beloved remembers that it’s supposed to be the local play school’s Gala Day on the playing fields, just around the corner from our home; I can’t help having a sneaking premonition that it may be called off. I like to make the effort, stamina permitting, to support these events but it seems that I may be able to preserve my energy.


Yesterday proved to be one of those woozy zonked-out days, not too surprising as the previous day had been one of my human pincushion sessions (acupuncture); it’s quite normal to feel a little washed out the day after!  At lunchtime I received a most welcome ’phone call from my physiotherapist / acupuncturist to say that my medical appointment in York has been cancelled. The department will now be contacting her directly to determine whether an assessment is necessary and, if necessary, it will be a ‘home assessment’. That news was subsequently confirmed by e-mail, just in case I thought I was dreaming!!!


In spite of an all too familiar fatigue, and the somewhat oppressive nature of the day, some of my daily compliment of aches and pains seem to have gone into a temporary hibernation, their presence a mere shadow compared to that of recent days. The acupuncture seems to be kicking in!


As I write this, the day seems to have brightened a little but, I fear it may be a little late to redeem the Gala.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Loss Of Affirmation

Although I generally manage to maintain a reasonably upbeat outlook, in the face of the various slings and arrows my physical and emotional being undergoes, there are times when the clouds just fall around you and the sun refuses to break through. Today, possibly the hottest day of the year so far, is one such occasion. Not that any major disaster has occurred, hot weather always drains me. The day started with a delivery, of a shed and tool store, twenty minutes before the allocated delivery window and without the promised thirty minutes prior ‘phone call; seemed like a bad omen. I immediately called our friend who was going to help with its assembly and, to my relief he came over within a few minutes.


The plans for preparing a level base went rather awry and, although I wasn’t involved in the process, it made me start to feel uneasy. I’ve mentioned before how difficult I find it to cope with any change of routine and, that even seems to be the case when I’m not directly involved in the new situation. Even I find it hard to believe that there was a time, some years ago, when I thrived on new situations and new challenges.


Next delightful event of the day was the recurring appearance of the blue screen on my old PC and then, later in the day a letter from my beloved ATOS (see previous post) when once more it became apparent that the form I submitted had neither been thoroughly read, nor had aspects of the brief telephone conversation been taken on board.


So the oppressive heat, the ATOS lackeys, and plans going awry, each contributed to a reduction in my inner resilience and the loss of any sparkle in the eyes. Three times during the day I fell asleep, a welcome relief from a sense of intensely aching frustration. A griping sensation around the knees, similar to cramp, caused them to lock up as I ambled up the garden, an unwelcome distraction from the pain in calves, thigh, and back.


I seek the strength to affirm the day!