Sunday, November 19, 2017

Making a butterfly

GrandDaughter1 is growing up. She will be eight on Thursday but that's not exactly what I mean. She was explaining something to me the other day and I suddenly realised she wasn't using little girl language but something that is more akin to teenage speech. She is growing and developing and making friendships that will help shape her in many ways. But I am pleased to say that she is not easily swayed or led into things. She knows her own mind and isn't showing any signs yet of having a 'going with the crowd' mentality.

I am so enjoying being a granny. For loads of different reasons but partly because of the slight distance that allows me to watch and observe the changes that occur. I think when I was rearing my own children I was so concerned with the moment, so busy, so wrapped up in timetables and development charts and who's taking them to cubs this evening and who is coming to tea, that I missed the subtle changes. They were babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, students without my noticing the cocoon stages.

Somewhere along the line the butterflies emerged and new generations began. I'm grateful for the second chance.



A little under the weather

At times of illness Husband favours the 'do nothing' approach, as in sitting down playing Civilisation on the computer. He says scientific research has proven that rest is the best cure.

Not that I'm ill. My tummy has recovered and apart from a tender nose - well, something that big takes a while to heal - I am not suffering following my sickness debacle earlier in the week. But I do have the snuffles, a dry mouth and throat, and a niggling headache.

I am inclined to take Husband's advice and I would like to take it. But when I do all that happens is that I sit around feeling sorry for myself. I'm not convinced I get better any faster. But I excel at feeling sorry for myself.

So today I went to the Green Fayre and Sainsburys with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. That was fine; it wasn't until I watched two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, including the horrendous one where Derrick dies, that I began to feel proper poorly again. 

So I've come on here to blog and take my mind off things. And this photo will help ...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sanctimonious bullshit

sanctimonious bullshit
I was lying in bed one night and those were the words that came to me. (It was that sort of night: I'd been lying awake for ages amongst other things composing a depressing blog post about perspective, family favourites, dead cousins, Nazis and quashing of the spirit.)

If I were asked for a dictionary definition for sanctimonious bullshit I'd be hard-pressed to come up with one but it just felt right for what I'd had to listen to. So I'm going to store the phrase behind my ear and next time it happens I'll bring it out and let it bob happily on a sea of calm until my anger passes.

P.S. According to Mr Chambers to behave in a sanctimonious way is to simulate holiness especially hypocritically. Rather like the pharisees.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have two problems ...

when driving Alfie Porsche.

Problem Number One: he doesn't have a rear view mirror. He has one but it's in the glove compartment. Husband has tried numerous times to stick it back on - including with a professional glue - but it keeps coming off. That shouldn't be a problem as Husband says, 'Use the wing mirrors.' But they're adjusted for his driving position and you know what these German Italian European car manufacturers are like: they like to hide things. So they're really difficult to change. It's not just a case of twiddling something.

So basically if you see me driving Alfie Porsche, especially if you're behind me, give me plenty of room as I probably don't know you're there. (I don't drive Alfie very often, don't worry.)

Problem Number Two: when driving Alfie I turn into Mr. Cool. Which would be okay if I weren't a sixty-five-old slightly-less-than-cool (but only very slightly) woman. I need Aretha on my hi-tech music machine (okay, cassette deck as Alfie's quite old) thumping out, 'R E S P E C T' and I'm the man. 

And obviously it was thus I appeared when a youth, a learner driver, pulled up outside me at the traffic lights on his 175cc motorbike. He glanced down at me, revved his engine, and I thought, 'Think you can challenge me, eh?'

No, I didn't. I mean I thought it but I didn't take him up on it. Tempting though it was. And, sadly, judging by the way he pulled in front of another car shortly afterwards I fear this young learner may not live to pass his test.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

One lovely black eye

Shoulder's much better today but I'm still taking it easy. 

Husband said, when I was in the toilet, he heard a door being slammed. I pointed out that what he heard was actually my head butting the door as I fainted. It's a good job I've got a big nose: it took the brunt of my collision with the door thus saving my fragile brain.
My 'black eye' looks much more impressive in real life ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Loving and losing

My latest article for The Bay has now been published. It's a special Christmas/New Year bumper edition, and I think my article is rather good!

The Bay is delivered to lots of homes mostly in Swansea west I think but you can pick up a copy at some libraries or you can read it online.

The royal progress

Have made it from bed to the computer via the shower - without mishap.

batman with a broken nose
I had visualised myself in A&E having x-rays for my broken shoulder and nose but that may have been overly dramatic. Standing in the shower under the warm water doing shoulder rolls seemed to help but there are still things I can't do.

On the plus side, my snuffle and tickly throat seem a bit better.


To find myself lying in a pool of blood

When I went to bed last night the last thing I expected was to wake and find myself in a pool of blood.


Everything was fine when I went to bed and stayed fine until about four am. That's when I woke up and started vomiting.

Sitting on the floor in the smallest room hugging the toilet isn't a good place to be. I went back to bed only to scurry back to the toilet. After throwing up again I began to feel very hot and woozy. That was the last thing I remember.

Next minute - or possibly later - I opened my eyes, wondering where I was and why there was blood coming from my nose.

Today I am in bed and feeling very sorry for myself. I appear to have bruised not only my nose but my back as well. How I managed to hit both side at once is a mystery to be solved.

With my extensive forensic knowledge gleaned from years of watching Morse, Lewis and Midsomer Murders, I deduce from the blood stain on the door that I hit my nose on it - and presumably caught my back on the wall/door post. To be fair, in such a small room, there's not much else I could have done.

But I am in great pain and would appreciate much sympathy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another birthday present

Fresh veg, including a white carrot, from the farmers' market, in a basket made by Younger Son.
willow woven basket

Foraging for coal

From late August on I become a master forager. 

First it's blackberries, closely followed by conkers. (Remember that tray of conkers I baked? I put them Somewhere Safe and now I can't find them.) Then it's sweet chestnuts and currently it's pine cones.

The trouble I'm finding at the moment is that I don't actually know what sort of trees produce cones. Coniferous ones obviously but they're all different and not necessarily the ones I want.

Does collecting sea glass count as foraging? I had a nice little haul today.
And while I was gathering that George foraged for a lovely lump of coal that he happily chewed upon.

Mountain boarding for Darby and Joan

mountain boarding
Me before I break my hip
Yesterday morning walking in Clyne before it rained I noticed they were running a free mountain boarding session for children. I was very tempted to ask if they had one big enough for a sixty-five-year-old on her birthday but then I thought, 'I might break my hip.' And that would put a damper on my birthday celebrations.

I've never had that thought before; it was turning sixty-five that did it. Suddenly I became aware of the frailties of my body. 

Actually I'm fairly confident that my hips are in good shape. I'm flexible and exercise and I eat lots of cheese. Or did before The Diet. And as Husband said, 'You have plenty of padding.'

Although I've been getting my pension for two and a half years approximately for some reason I still think of sixty-five as real pensioner age. I don't feel old of course but does anyone ever?

Darby and Joan. My gran used to go to the Oystermouth darby and joan club. Who or what were D&J? Time to google.

It turns out that the first Darby and Joan club was opened in 1946 by the WVS (women's voluntary service) as a meeting place for older people to enjoy companionship, a cup of tea, a game of cards or sometimes a hot meal. The first one in Lincoln was followed by clubs all over the country many of which still exist today. The name, Darby and Joan, comes from an 18th century poem by Henry Woodfall about a happily married couple.


Sixty-five and all's well!

Great trip to Cardiff; shame about the result (something like 22-29). Still the boys looked promising. Clumsy but promising. And we sat next to a really nice Australian couple over here on holiday. And Cardiff when it's getting ready for Christmas is exciting and pretty.

We always park in roughly the same place, about a fifteen-minute walk from the stadium. Husband is always very focused and just wants to get there but yesterday we were early so I forced him to slow down so I could 'ooh' and 'aah' at all the pretty lights. And I was rather taken with the various snowdogs scattered throughout the city.
snowdogs in cardiff
I am sorry you have to turn your head to look at it. Photoshop is playing up and I can't do anything with photos at the moment.

Husband said he could understand where the grandchildren get their 'easily-distracted' trait from.

* * * * * * * * * *
Yesterday: the Great Day! Otherwise known as My Birthday!

Husband had to go shopping in the morning (for food - and a card!) so I took George out for a walk. It was lovely when we left the house but very soon began to rain. 'That's okay,' I said to George. 'It's going to be one of those nice and nasty days. It'll be nice again soon.' Sadly Nice can't have got the memo as it didn't turn up. 

We sheltered under a tree in Clyne. It didn't help. By the time we got to the beach I was soaked through (must get myself a waterproof coat) so decided I might as well continue. At least we had the place to ourselves.
Home and showered and warm afterwards for a family tea party. 

He may have been late getting a card but Husband knows me so well.

Daughter made a beautiful meringue birthday cake for me.

And GrandDaughter1 made this very special book: The Seasons of Grandsons and Granddaughters, filled with drawings of our fun times during the year.

And you may remember that a few weeks' ago I bought my own birthday present from Husband. Today they were revealed in all their sparkly glory!

A very lovely day in which I only ate six fun-size packs of Maltesers! (Back on the diet today.)



Saturday, November 11, 2017

A busy week

That's not new or news but I haven't even had time for thinking about blog posts. Let's see, what have I been doing?

Picnic on the beach in the sunshine with GrandDaughter2, Nuora and GrandSon4 on Wednesday. I only have photos of the grandbabies so I can't post those but we had a lovely time.

Wednesday evening achieved my half stone award in Slimming World. It took a while but I got there.

Thursday women's bible study at Zac's. Good study about Jesus and the barbecue on the beach. 

Friday messy play with GrandSon4 and Nuora. Granny wearing a white shirt probably wasn't the best idea but, again, good fun.

Today it's been Sainsburys and will soon be off to Cardiff for the first of the autumn internationals, Wales versus Australia. Usually a highlight of my trips to the Millennium Stadium - as well as the rugby, the atmosphere, the excitement and the usually thwarted hope - is the pie I get to eat. Sadly that will not be the case today. It's my birthday tomorrow so I must save myself!

There must have been other stuff but I'm feeling slightly brain dead. A lingering feeling of failure haunts me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Elder Son, the International Speaker

This afternoon Elder Son was in Munich giving a talk on 'Agile machine learning'. (No, I don't know what that is either.) He gave the same talk a few weeks ago in London but then was helped by a colleague. This time he was on his own.

Last time his feedback was amazing: he was scored and got way above the average conference speaker score. It's strange: both sons seem to be good at speaking/teaching even though we are by nature a reserved family. But I like reading my work aloud to an audience too. 

I am very proud of all my children.
At Younger Son's wedding in Italy, 2012

Monday, November 06, 2017

Snippets

Hot dogs and fireworks party on Saturday. GrandDaughter2 kept shouting, 'Gen, gen, gandad!' (again, again, granddad) and GrandSon2 kept shouting, 'More space rockets, granddad!' Meanwhile GrandSon4 was so impressed that he fell asleep halfway through the fireworks.

Some nice walks. The weather has been unusually dry though cold, meaning lots of lovely piles of leaves to rustle and jump in. The cold didn't deter the female swimmer at Langland today. No wetsuit just a dog.

Going to have lunch now. Back later as I'm sure there were more snippets I wanted to include. Oh yes, before I go: Younger Son brought some Italian sausage back from his continental holiday. 'Try it,' he said. 'This one's hazelnut.'
'Mm, that's quite nice.' (Although I'm not wild about salami type sausage.)
'Now try this one.'
'What is it?'
'See if you like it.'
I realised from his reluctance to tell me what it was that it was likely to be something I possibly wouldn't like. I gingerly took a bite. 
'Do you like it?'
'Mm, it's okay,' I said, not wanting to commit myself. 'What is it?'
'Donkey.'
'Donkey?! Really?'
I gave him back the rest of the slice. There's just something about eating a creature that says hee-haw that is unpalatable. 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

America, how could you?

Kevin Spacey is quite rightly condemned for his predatory actions in a country where a man who boasted about groping women is elected president.

I worked in DVLC with a man whose favourite saying was, 'I despair.'

Last night on Have I Got News For You? they showed an interview clip where Trump declares that he invented the word fake.

I despair.

America, how could you?

Friday, November 03, 2017

I have two things in this world: my balls and my word and I don't break them for no-one, you understand?*

I have a guest post today written by Elder Son linking in with Movember. The Movember Foundation's mission is to change the face of men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. As Husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was in his forties it's of particular interest and relevance to us as a family.


“Penis!”
This was the greeting that welcomed me on one visit to my local GP. I'd been called to the doctor’s room, and having let myself in and closed the door I began to explain the purpose of my visit (the doctor not having looked up from his computer at this point).

“I wanted you to check if I had a lump on my..”

“Penis!” blurted the doctor, interrupting, now finally standing and looking at me grinning.
Somewhat surprised by his outburst, I responded “Umm, you're in the right ball park**. But not quite. I wanted you to check my testicles”. Seemingly unaware of the oddity of shouting the word “penis” at a patient while trying to guess the body part I am going to complain about, he simply nodded and directed me to the other side of the room.

And so set the tone for what was not, for me, an unusual occurrence: going to see a doctor to get my balls checked out. The doctor was a smallish man, probably in his 60s. He asked me to pop up on to the bed, slide down my pants and lie on some paper tissue. He then put on some rubber gloves and came and had a rummage.

It didn't take long, it never does. Within a minute he was turning away and taking off his gloves. At this point, I am struggling to remember if he has said anything to me other than “penis”. Smiling and shaking his head he walks over to the sink to quickly wash his hands and says “It’s fine. Nothing to worry about”. Relieved, I sit up on the bed and start to put my trousers back on. Casually, the doctor strolls back, drying his hands “By the time you are 60, they will be a bag of worms”. 
Whoahhh. 
“By the time you are 60, they will be a bag of worms”
To me, this is not a sentence that should follow the words “it's fine”.
Especially when talking about my balls. 

Thankfully, after more confused mumbling and umm-ing and ahh-ing, and attempting to tactfully ask how said worms are going to get into my balls, he calmly re-assured me that as you get older, it's just what happens to the body sometimes. Like varicose veins. And to be clear, there are no worms involved.

OK. Phew. I left. 
Well, more or less. He actually went on to explain that this was perfectly normal, and that he would have no problem letting me leave, and that he would sleep easy with that decision, but suggested that just to be super cautious we arrange an appointment at the ultra-sound unit for a scan.
________________________________________
The appointment only took a few weeks to come through, and was at a local hospital that my paramedic friend told me they referred to as “death-mid”. Great. 

Anyway, I rock up to the hospital, say hello at reception and sit down in the waiting room to wait for my call. 

Now this hadn’t crossed my mind at the time, but as this was a run-of-the-mill ultrasound ward, most of the patients were expectant mothers. As a result, the other two patients waiting with me were both young women, sitting with (I assume) their mothers — smiling at each other and fondly stroking their stomachs like only expectant parents can. 

And to be honest, it felt a little wrong. Sitting on my own, in my work clothes in a waiting room that is predominantly populated with soon-to-be mums. Knowing that at least one of the excited patients were going to be having their little bundle of joys seen for the first time in the very place I was about to be sitting, pants down having my balls scanned. But hey, it’s a hospital, its probably best not to think about what might have happened there before you.

Anyhow, soon enough I was being called to the room at the end of the corridor. 
The nurse, a male, probably only a few years older than me, was sitting in almost complete darkness. He ushered me on to the bed and with a few terse instructions of “hold this” and “move that way” he quickly explained that this would likely be cold as he applied a clear blue gel to the scanning device and started scanning. Noting that the technician seemed fairly grumpy, possibly understandably given the task he was undertaking, I thought I should make some small talk to brighten the mood. So, having recently been in an ultrasound room for my wife’s pregnancy scan, I jovially asked whether I would be getting a photo of the scan in a presentation card to share with my family and friends. Unfortunately, even my witty banter wasn’t enough to lighten the mood, as seemingly taking my request seriously he grumbled about the NHS and how they wouldn’t pay for that, and with that, I was on my way out.
________________________________________
That encounter was not my first (nor last) getting checked out by a GP, but was the first ultrasound for the little fellas.

The first time I asked a GP to check my balls was whilst I was in there for another reason (I know, I know, it’s not cool to go to the GP and ask lots of things at once, but it just kinda happened), having had history of testicular cancer in the family, I had always been aware of the importance of checking myself, but also had this nagging doubt of “how do I know this is what they are supposed to feel like?”, so thought whilst I was there I would get the doc to check, just to get a baseline of what is normal.

He seemed quite surprised when I requested it, to be honest, which is not entirely surprising given I was there for an unrelated reason and then just casually dropped in “whilst I’m here, can you check my testicles”. Unfortunately, this surprise also meant un-prepared, because whilst he was very happy to check (and encouraging that it was a smart thing to do), he was clearly blindsided by the request, as whilst I stood there with my pants down being checked, I looked around to realise for the first time that we were in fact on the ground floor of the surgery, with the window overlooking the visitor car park. 
Fortunately, no one seemed to look in, and again it was over in a flash.

On the last occasion that I was in having a GP check my balls, the GP asked if I wanted to request a chaperone to be present in the room during the check, and whilst I lay there, part of me thought maybe she had seen my records of how often I had been checked and was asking more for herself.

Anyways, the point of these anecdotes is that it's good to check these things, and if you have access to available/free healthcare (the NHS, for example) then just go and ask a doctor to check for you if you have any concerns. There’s loads of information on the internet and in real life on how to check, so in the ever relevant words of rapper Ice Cube “check yo self before you wreck yo self”


* From Scarface
** I didn’t actually use that phrase. I wish I had been that quick. Even “close but no cigar” would have been halfway witty. But I think in the end I just umm’ed and ahh’ed and finally mumbled something about my balls.

@MovemberUK
www.movember.com

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Too many cakes and not enough eaters

Today was our first community coffee morning and bible study in Zac's. Our women's group has been struggling with low numbers so we thought we'd change from lunchtime to mornings to see if that works better for people. And we decided to make the first half just a coffee morning open to the whole community. The problem with that of course is getting the community to come in.

We're going to drop leaflets around all the houses in the surrounding streets but Zac's is based in a very diverse ethnic housing area. We have a mosque immediately opposite and a large Muslim population. But the coffee morning is intended to be just that: an opportunity to sit down, have coffee (or tea in my case) and cake (or not in my case), and get to know the neighbours. 

We follow it with a bible study but we're not planning on preaching at anyone who drops in so I hope we get some visitors. Today two people were passing as I put the poster on the front door and they came in because she was desperate for coffee. But they were used to coming into Zac's for breakfast so it wasn't as scary as it may be for others.

But there wasn't the take-up I was obviously anticipating when I cooked cakes the night before! There would have had to have been quite a big crowd to eat all the coconut macaroons, choc chip fairy cakes and sultana bread I made ...





I love Thursday evenings

Because it's Friday the next day. And  I don't have any regular commitments on Fridays so there's nothing I have to be worrying about or preparing for or stressing over. I can just relax.

Bra off, 'lounge pants' (pyjama bottoms to me)  on and beans on baked potato on a tray in front of the television I think. Ah bliss.

I am easily pleased.

* * * * * * * * 
It's November now too and that means NaNoWriMo. I haven't taken part for the last few years - November really isn't the best month to devote to writing a novel - but I think I may be able to use it this year as an incentive to get on with ghost-writing Christy's autobiography. But maybe not tonight.