Tuesday, September 29, 2009

suburban garden archaeology + note on IE8 abberation

Seeds sprouting, seeds rotting, seeds stagnating: mould growing, mould receding, even mould mouldering; rotting seeds fermenting: tufts; of sundry grasses, sucking the life out of deeper embedded seeds, weeds devouring weeds, layer upon layer of short-span history. There's something seedy about all of these lawn borders, wherever the bird feeding stations have been placed and / or removed..

Left untended, it's as if we have the layers within years (or even months) that human archaeology requres centuries for.


I'd already posted this on 'Mal's Murmurings' but thought I'd just add it here, in the hope that a new posting may resolve the problem with this particular blog's display in IE8 (whereby the Header 'False Dawn',on 27 September 2009, was followed by the text of my posting from 22August 2009 - originally headed 'Theme & Variations'. All other postings between 21 August 2009 and the present day failed to appear. When viewed in Firefox all the postings appear).

P.S. 7.36pm: Strangely this post appears in IE8 but, the aforementioned aberration persists. TO VIEW THIS PARTICULAR BLOG I RECOMMEND ANY BROWSER OTHER THAN INTERNET EXPLORER!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday morning, bright sunshine greeted my emergence into day and, most unusually I was feeling wide awake long before 9.00AM; the general rule is that a state akin to wide awake is rarely [even half-heartedly] achieved by yours truly before 10.45AM! I even felt that my nights sleep had been of a refreshing variety, despite my having run two marathons in one day before getting lost in the centre of an unknown town, unable to find the loos. Dreams are certainly peculiar things!

How could I account for a good nights sleep, dream sequences notwithstanding ; the only aid I could think of was having partaken of an extra shot of macchiato at the Café Culture the preceding afternoon. Now there's a paradox!

Anyway, whatever the reason, this unusually early alertness continued throughout the morning, relatively pain and ache free [a most unusual ante meridian experience]. By late morning I was ready for a walk down to Waitrose with my beloved; the walk entails a 15 minute stretch along the Leeds Road before taking the tree-lined footpath across the stray, approx 7 minutes, and a further 5 minutes in the direction of the town centre. That's one helluva long exercise for me but, I managed it and, even enjoyed the walk back home.

All went well with the day until early evening, when an excruciating sense of despairing helplessness overwhelmed me, the sheer pointlessness of everything. The cause for that dramatic change; I'd started wondering how the hell I could get the tax people to sort out one of my pension providers who tax me on every penny even though, all other incomes having been taken into account, I have a further £3 ½ grand tax free allowance. I've never been averse to paying tax but, having completed endless forms, both prior and subsequent to attaining state pension age, no progress has been made on this front! [The pettiness of the issue is that the monthly payment is a mere £62 gross and I'm having £13 take away in tax each month – but when one feels shattered the whole issue takes on gargantuan proportions].

Even my preparation of the main course for Sunday lunch – always pre-prepared on Saturday evening – held no pleasure for me and, subsequent telly-gawping proved absolutely disastrous. The Vile Twins [that's not their stage name by the way] getting through the first stage of boot camp [we're talking X Factor here] made me quite apoplectic; if ever there was a case to be made for abortion, or even euthanasia, these twin contestants are it. Before their miraculous advance, I'd already declared that their advancement would sufficient to prove that there is no god, no evolution either for that matter!

A further cause of my general sense of irritating helplessness is the constant petty bitching experienced on all of the ME sites run by fellow ME sufferers; no wonder that no progress is being made. Doubtless the condition is a physical neurological one, of possibly viral origin, even though the vested interests of medical insurers and pharmacological industries are more than happy to support the psychologizers arguments.

Where my fellow sufferers find the stamina to continue with their virulent nit-picking squabbles is a mystery to me! I suspect that part of the problem is, by its extremely debilitating nature, this neurological ailment tends to breed a kind of re-active depression. Certainly, in my case, the onset of ME also found (or produced) a far more deep-rooted tetchiness than had been apparent as part my nature for the preceding decades.

Basically, I'm just a little pissed off and you, my dear readers, are the outflows recipients. This morning, my naggingly aching body, had to be forcibly removed from the duvet realm by a sheer effort of will. It seems like I'm almost back to normal.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meanwhile on Mal's Factory

My most recent posting on my poetry weblog features a video - Twittering Garden, the occasion of which was a prompt for the poem Garden Paradox

MAL's FACTORY - Poetry & Prose Poems: Garden Paradox - Twittering Garden

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hypocrisy Runs Riot - a little rant

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve not been feeling particularly well for the past few days or, it could quite simply be that I’ve rediscovered my sceptical roots; whatever is the case, the news has left me with little to rejoice about.

Superficially, the nuclear weapons non-proliferation agreement at the UN should be a cause for rejoicing but, as one who has constantly campaigned for unilateral disarmament, I find little to celebrate in the agreement. Hypocrisy runs riot.

We offer a meaningless reduction in our arsenal and, simultaneously, threaten further sanctions against Iran (though not by name) should it continue to develop these “weapons of mass destruction”. It seems so strange that our politicians, in defending our nuclear weapons, have always referred to them as a “deterrent” but, should anyone else want them they become weapons of mass destruction.

If they are a deterrent, we should urge every nation to stockpile them; if every nation has a deterrent then, surely, there’s even less chance of a war. But, of course, the argument goes on to wonder what would happen if tactical nuclear devices should fall into the hands of “terrorists”; mind you there’s rarely a mention of the terrorist state of Israel having these same weapons. However we look at it, the admission has been made that they offer no deterrence to terrorism, indeed – they pose perhaps an even greater terrorist threat.

We are constantly being told that “terrorism” is the biggest threat we face yet, we insist on maintaining and enhancing our useless nuclear defence systems at a cost of untold billions of pounds. The more nuclear devices that are in existence, the greater the chance of a terrorist getting hold of them.
It may be Obama’s greatest dream to have a nuclear free-world, why not make a start by destroying the existing stockpiles; I have no time for dreamers when they could be doing something practical!

Another news item is the American military’s development of a vaccine against AIDS. It comes as no real surprise that the military are working on this; in fact I’ve always suspected that the disease began as a germ warfare experiment that somehow got out of control!

There’s currently a fuss about sexist ageism at the BBC and a call being made for some female newsreaders over the age of 50 to be employed. I’ve yet to see a newsreader that is severely facially disfigured, or who has a speech impediment; come to that, do we have any newsreaders who suffer visibly from a major physical handicap? Where are the calls for these people to be represented? It would be good to have a newsreader who doesn’t sound like a representative of (that mythical) middle-England for that matter!

All the male newsreaders appear to be compulsive tie-wearers; where is the outcry? Surely there should be demands for a member of the non tie-wearing culture to be permitted to perform this hallowed duty!

Gosh; I feel much better now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mal's Turnaround

Today's blog posting, Food, Drink and Gardening - a little more upbeat than yesterday's post - can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the impossible is slightly difficult

Some things are just so difficult to explain that one just goes on with life, as best one can, unable to share their "different" experience of "normal" everyday activities. Some chronic conditions, even in their relatively moderate forms, can have the most devastating impact in terms of isolation; the combination of pain, sensory-overload - both auditory and visual (and the accompanying agitation and frustration) as well as an excruciating fatigue (caused by unrefreshing sleep patterns) are quite simply impossible to explain to anyone who has not been there and, together, they conspire to prevent much normal socializing!

Even when the worst symptoms are in some kind of remission, my coping mechanism has hardly returned to it's pre-illness state. There are times when, on a social outing, one feels they are going to explode in response to the immediate environmental activity - be it talking, music, lighting, or quite simply the presence of too many other bodies - then comes the difficult task of making one's "excuse" to depart early from the event.

Frequently I notice concerts, gigs, exhibitions etc that I'd like to attend but, I feel unable to pre-book ( even in my current reasonably well phase) as I'm never sure whether I will have the necessary physical and/or emotional stamina to cope come the day! Even when there's no requirement to pre-book, if an admission fee is involved it always seems an incredibly extravagant outlay bearing in mind that, in all likelihood, I will be ready to leave (unable to stay the course) whilst the event is still in progress. At the recent farewell party for the local vicar, it was amazing to be able to sustain concentration for that part of the entertainment I managed to cope with. My recent visit to Liverpool was a different experience altogether when I wasn't "up to" attending any of the exhibitions I hoped to see, or even dining out at a restaurant in close proximity to the inn where we were staying.

I am blessed in obtaining so much satisfaction from spending time in the garden, watching the avian activity, taking photos and videos etc., playing about on the PC, painting and writing as and when urge and stamina are in sync. I've become, in the process a contented homebird! On many occasions I'm able to manage a short walk but, even that activity has its own little idiosyncracies. This afternoon I took a little walk, at a somewhat slower pace than my recent norm; as I tried to speed up it seemed as if the lower limbs hydraulics were in serious need of an oil change; each movement required a conscious effort, as if I was required to lift my feet from some kind of cloying quicksand. And that was on, what had earlier seemed, a "better" day.

I have no desire to be a Moaning Minnie, it's just that I wanted to try and share something of that which I deemed, at the outset, to be impossible.

The Young Visitor

juvenile goldfinch on Nyjer seed feeder
(click on image to view larger version)

This young visitor, to our garden, kindly allowed me to observe his/her feeding activity from a distance of two feet.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mal's Mysteries

The Unfathomable Fantail Mystery ... can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

a joyous experience

Today is another wonderful unique day. The question is, do I feel better because of my attitude or, is my attitude different because I'm feeling better? I suspect that without the latter it would be virtually impossible to activate the former; mind over matter can only go a small way. For more than 90% of the time my outlook is positive, it's only reality that gets in the way and causes me to stumble.

This morning I sat in the shower and positively wallowed in the experience. A short while later I decided to venture down to 'Open Church', for coffee and a chat and, guess what; as I walked down the road one leg moved in front of the other in a seemingly effortless manner. It's an amazing thing this walking business, enabling one to get from point A to point B whilst, simultaneously, breathing in the air!

Breathing, that's another little miracle, inhale a complex of elements and exhale those not required; it seems like you get rid of all the crap with the minimum of conscious input. The whole process of walking and breathing feels like something worthy of celebration rather than being taken for granted. Having experienced some days when the necessary effort of taking a deep breath becomes a rather irksome task and, the movement of lower limbs causes considerable discomfort, makes it much easier to appreciate how wonderful a state of (relatively) healthy normality really is.

Walking down the road, reciprocating smiles with unknown passers-by, can be such a joyous experience.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Monday 31 August

Although it's the thought that counts, that very thought can militate against one; I suppose it's something to do with "the best laid plans ..." And did those thoughts and plans backfire, on my poor long-suffering beloved; not everyone can turn an 80-90 mile trip into a distance more akin to 200 miles, partly attributable to road maps being scattered over a few separate pages of an atlas - spatial sense is shown for the feminine virtue it truly is - and her desire to save me the stress of going via the M62, far from my favourite stretch of road.

Having travelled for best part of two hours, I suddenly became aware that we weren't passing through any of the urban villages (of Lancashire) that I'd anticipated; rural idylls (of both Yorkshire and Cumbria) were the order of the day but, having taken this pleasant alternative route we reached the M6 at a point from which our destination goal wasn't much less of a distance away than it had been at the outset of our journey. (As aforementioned, all of this was the result of Helen's best intention to avoid the much loathed M62 route). For the first several miles on the motorway it was difficult to exceed 25mph, the slowest part of the journey so far.

The one thing of which we were certain was that we now had to head down as far as junction 26 and the M58; so far so good. Just for confirmation we switched on the satnav - destination address already programmed in and, this is where the real fun began. We missed a turn at which our destination was a mere 5.5 miles away and, as the amazing technological device re-planned our route, within a matter of minutes it was a mere 12 miles away. Further down the route we passed a familiar landmark which we knew to be within a few minutes drive of our destination but, the satnav would have none of it! A further twenty-five minutes down the line the satnav continued its wild goose chase eventually telling us that we'd reached our suburban destination when reality demonstratively disclosed the fact that we were actually in the city centre, Liverpool 1 and not Liverpool 19. We'd already been forced to make a few U-turns, and other probably illicit moves, having been directed wrong way into one way streets etc. ... etc ...

Eventually, we arrived at the Innkeepers Lodge, moved in our cases, before venturing around to visit Kathleen, Helen's step-mum, which was a simple ten minutes walk. No navigational problems there but, exhaustion had set in for this bad traveller. The walk back to the hotel proved a little more perilous; through heavy lidded eyes each road, strreet, avenue appeared much the same and my intuitive compass had gone on strike. That's when the dreaded panic set in; chest tightening, breath taking, muscle-spasming painfulness kicked in and all I wanted was to be back home! To be honest, home is the only place and sensation that I really care for; the idea of a break away being relaxing is anathema.

Tuesday 01 September

Taking advantage of a generous breakfast, included in the room price, necessitated me getting up from my bed to walk at a rather earlier hour than has been my norm over recent days. Cereal, probiotic yoghurt, fruit juice, toast, pain au chocolat ... who could ask for anything more; well perhaps a doggy bag was in order to sustain us in that large interval between breakfast and evening meal. Having allowed twenty minutes for breakfast to settle, off we went to Kathleens once again for a little chat and the opportunity to take a few snapshots and a little bit of video-ing. We were back to the inn shortly after 11.30AM, in my case for a much needed rest and, for my beloved, a chance to catch up on some reading. There are definitely some exhibitions at Liverpool's Tate Gallery but, at this stage my reserves of both physical and emotional stamina are still a little battle scarred from yesterday's adventures.

Who knows what the rest of the day will bring but, I am looking forward to a meal at Mad Harrys this evening (technically it's the 'Madhari Tandoori Restaurant' but it's a name that becomes affectionate in my accidental(?) pronunciation)! Mad Harrys is directly opposite to the main door of our temporary habitation. Last night we ate at the Toby Carvery, adjacent to the lodge where we are staying, where I enjoyed a baked sea bass along with a generosity of self service potatoes and vegetables. I even decided a Yorkshire pudding would make an interesting additional accompaniment. Meantime, my beloved settled for the carvery turkey.


Once more the best laid plans were destined not to be; the rest of the day turned out to be a devastatingly tortuous non-event. Severe muscular and abdominal discomfort led to an all pervasive sense of nausea though, come late afternoon / early evening went out for a little fresh air in the hope of reviving or creating some semblance of an appetite. The effort was to little avail. No sooner had we seated ourselves in the Indian Restaurant than the sense of nausea returned with a vengeance; at least we were able to leave before we'd had a chance to place an order. My only desire was to be back home in Harrogate whilst simulataneously the thought of making the journey was far too much to cope with.

Most of the day and evening was spent in totally restless attempts to rest. Somehow my biological clock can't cope with dramatic changes such as arising from my bed before mid-to-late morning but, it had seemed necessary to partake of breakfast (at an unearthly early hour) as I felt the need to obtain something in return for the nightly room fee. I did manage a pint of Thwaites 'Bomber' in the afternoon, sweet upfront with a sustained dry bitterness lingering on the palate, a much more satisfying drink than the Long Shadow Chardonnay, of the previous evening, which turned out to be flavoursomely oak laden at the beginning but, became an unremittingly tedious monotony before the glass was half-finished.

Wednesday 2 September

After a night of intermittent sleep, I managed to pluck up the courage to take a shower. Whilst in no way considering myself disabled, it suddenly occurred to me that I had quite a high degree of dependence on the shower seat at home whereas here, no such luxury was afforded. So, short and sweet showerlette was in order and, I emerged marginally refreshed to venture across to the carvery for breakfast.

This evening we'll be ambling around to Kathleens for dinner; the trip to scouseland proves worthwhile if only for the opportunity to visit Helen's stepmum but I doubt that I could cope with a visit to the Tate or even a more local gallery. Even when one is feeling relatively better than had been the case for a few years, ventures away from the familiar homestead prove a testing ground too far.


As I shuffled from chair to door, my wearily aching lower limbs decided that an occasional knee tendon spasm, and buckling from the knee, was an ideal way to restore my confidence. That's the point when we remembered that I'd not brought any of my walking sticks with me. My beloved popped down to the bar to see if, by any chance, there was a spare walking stick available and, managed to obtain an umbrella of appropriate length to proffer some support (an item of unclaimed lost property). This enabled me to get out for a little stroll in reasonably close proximity to the inn.

Late afternoon found us once more at Kathleens, to enjoy an evening meal.

Thursday 3 September

With the desire to get home by the quickest route possible, decided it was worth risking a trip along the M62, succesfully relying on the satnav to discern the best exit strategy for a comfortable journey home. My only panic attack occurred within one mile of our departure point, when abdominal and chest muscles once more militated against common-sense. Helen suggested we head back to the inn but, common-sense prevailed and, the desire to get home, in spite of immediate terrifying discomfort, was much greater than the need for instant relief! Once we hit the dreaded motorway, the symptoms were soon ameliorated.

The delight of reaching home, in a mere couple of hours, bore witness to the greatest transfiguration since Jesus met the two old geezers on the mount! How wonderful to smile freely once again.