So, here we are a year on since my last post. We have had a year of ups and downs with John being especially subject to depression, but we’re still dancing….just.
But ain’t life fun? It not just the cancers, and lung condition and the depression to contend with now. Oh, no! Just like everyone else, we are in isolation. We have been for a week or two, but yesterday, the government made it clear – STAY AT HOME. So we are.
Very dear family, friends and neighbours have been coming to our rescue with food parcels so far, and we just pray that they, as they go about the business of supporting the vulnerable, stay well and safe.
So, in her wisdom, my dear daughter-in-law suggested we do a diary of the events in our household. I am not sure that we’ll keep it up but we’ll try.
As of last week, we invited my Mum to stay with us. Our thinking being that if she were to become ill in her sheltered accommodation, then we would be unable to visit or support her in any way. So we bit the bullet. Frankly, it is something I swore I would never do, have my Mum stay with us, as I was sure it would kill John off. But actually, so far, not too bad. Even celebrating her 94th birthday on Sunday with was pleasant enough.
Today, has been a beautiful sunny, clear blue sky day. Warm with a very light wind. A pity in some ways because I am feeling so exhausted that I wanted to have a duvet day today. Didn’t happen, but I did have a bit of a duvet morning, although I had got up a couple of times to answer the door. Our dear friend Malcolm had been to the local Co-op for us and brought supplies, then the postie came with a parcel. Just wondering how long the parcel and letter post deliveries will continue. Not sure the government are going to class the work as essential, but we’ll see.
Early morning messages came in from several groups of friends in WhatsApp groups. One, from my friend, Chris, bewailing the fact that her boiler had stopped working. Plumber due to go tomorrow and fingers crossed it’ll be fixed.
John had made us all cups of tea this morning, so that was a bit of luxury and, as I finally made my way downstairs, middle son, Michael, phoned. Had a lovely chat for a good half hour – they were sunning themselves in the garden with a cuppa, whilst William had a nap. Bliss.
We had a bit of lunch then, of a chicken, leek and mushroom soup which was delicious, and then slouched in front of the TV catching up with a couple of programmes – Breeders and The Heist – good fun.
The day is interspersed with messages from all sons of the family – and in particular, beautiful video clips of the family at work and play; my old ‘gang’ – friends from schooldays; my college ‘girls’ – friends from college days; and the prayer group I belong to ‘Exploring Faith’. Each and every one, brightens up the day.
Equally, the phone calls are highlights. My friend, Carol, who lives in Derby, phoned and we had a good old natter. They are all OK there for now, although Carol is obviously anxious about John, her husband who is in his eightieth year.
Had a little toddle out into the garden and the sunshine with Mum this afternoon. Armed with her stick and leaning on me, she did very well, admiring the fish in the pond and the flowers blooming just now. At the end of our toddle, we sat on the bench by the patio door to listen to the birds and take in the sun. I thought it’d be nice to have a spritzer or something as we sat there, so we drank a bottle of Babycham between us in champagne saucers, feeling very privileged to be alive. We watched as John moved ‘big stuff’ from one end of the garden to the other.
Spoilt by egg and chips for tea (memories of John’s Grandma – ‘Nanan’), we have now adjourned to the lounge where we intend to watch TV and phone youngest son in a bit. That’s us today, folks.
What a beautiful day, weather-wise!! Such glorious blue skies and warm sunshine! So much so, that we chose to breakfast on our patio this morning, nay, feast, on banana pancakes, smothered in maple syrup and sprinkled with raspberries and pecan nuts. It was absolutely glorious.
Mum was in her dressing gown pretty much all morning, but, once dressed, she also ventured out onto the patio with us. We wrapped her up in blankets (even though it was 19 degrees), making her look like she was sat in an old-fashioned Turkish bath (tee-hee!).
But we thoroughly enjoyed our hour or two sunning ourselves outside today. The birds were a-tweeting and butterflies were a-flutter-by-ing, generating such tranquillity that, for a while, we forgot that we are in a Corona-virus crisis.
Of course, reality set in when the delivery of goods from our local farm shops, Oakes’, arrived at lunchtime, reminding us that there are such good people in our midst, caring for us as we isolate ourselves from our beloved community. And, on that note, John got THE letter from the NHS today, reminding him that he is identified as someone at risk of severe illness if he catches the virus. We knew that, but it’s nice to know (sort of) that the ‘authorities’ recognise it too. STAY AT HOME and WASH YOUR HANDS is the refrain….. yes, we will. And so to washing all of the bags and goods received from Oakes’. Yay!! Lucky me!! And more hand-washing.
But the day was still beckoning outside, so, after lunch and an hour of day-time TV (Judge Rinder, this time), neither John nor I could resist the call of ‘jobs-to-do’, and we ventured once again into the fresh air to tackle those things that we haven’t previously had ‘time’ to do. Me, to do some dead-heading and weeding; John, to continue to deal with ‘big stuff’ down the bottom of the garden.
In between times, of course, we have chatted to a whole host of people on-line. The family: beautiful conversations – thrilling, heartbreaking, moving, loving – especially when little ones lean into the camera to plant a kiss on the face they see their end of the phone – ours! And the excitement of a mention of our Andrew, on Tom Aikens’ (look him up folks!) live Instagram feed; Friends: who send uplifting messages or silly jokes or political commentary; long-lost family who pop up out of the blue because they are thinking of us just now. Oh, wow!! And the Vicar, who is checking that we are OK. So thankful for it all.
And this, against a background of a total of 461 deaths from the virus to date; Prince Charles infected with the virus; over 500,000 volunteers offering to support the NHS in this crisis; and the prospect of us all applauding those brilliant front-line workers in the NHS and caring professions on Thursday evening at 8 o’clock. And our especial thanks to our own surgery, supporting John to provide alternative medicine today, when supplies of existing products are unavailable, and also prescribing other drugs recommended by the consultant.
Ha! Spoke too soon about Mum being better at our house, yesterday! It never does to tempt fate, does it?? I had another lie-in this morning (have concluded that the years of running myself ragged have finally caught up with me!!), so didn’t check on Mum until late. When I did, she was up and dressed, so I thought, “Whoopee-doop! All OK there then.” But no, her eyes were bothering her. She suffers from blepharitis (although it never bothers her normally) and I think she made a mistake this morning. Finding her room a bit warm, she turned the radiator down – only she hadn’t. She’d turned it up. Blimey! It was like a dry sauna in there. So a big fuss about her eyes, pretty much all day (she’s not a great patient!). In the end, I offered a warming eye pack which didn’t go down well, and then a walk round the garden, which, surprisingly, did go down well once we’d wrapped her up like the Queen, complete with headscarf to keep the wind from her head.
Happiness was restored with the cobwebs blown away, a piece of cake with her afternoon cup of tea, and a bit of fun with the dry ice that came in with John’s specialist eye serum. The fun was, of course, putting the ice in a cauldron, face-timing the grandchildren, then filling the cauldron with water to create a fabulous overflow of ‘smoke’ which tumbled over the cauldron’s rim onto the worktop, over its edge and sent whispering to the floor.
As a matter of fact, I was the most excited among those who watched the spectacle. John can regularly play with the ice each time it arrives if he wants and, being a scientist, he knows the properties of the ice inside out; Mum exclaimed and suitably said “Wow” in the right places but wanted get back to watching The Chase; and the kids were even less enthralled. Freddie had seen it once before at our house first-hand, so watched for a bit, then asked Harriet if he could watch a programme on TV. William also had a bit of a look, but shot off pretty quickly to discover something far more interesting in his own home, and all we saw was his retreating bum on the screen. Ah, well, the best laid plans…… I enjoyed it anyway!!
John did more ‘big stuff’ down the bottom of the garden today AND……. wait for it…… had a fiddle with his restoration project in the garage….the car….. He even got the manual out and started looking up the intricacies of how to repair a specific part of it too. Now that’s what I call progress!!
However, on the downside, the ol’ man isn’t feeling all that great. He’s still plodding on, of course, but struggling with his breathing. Having run out of drugs in general and one of his inhalers last Friday, it wasn’t until Monday that the pharmacy delivered. But no inhaler, just an ‘owing’ slip. By Wednesday, things are getting pretty tight, so I phone up the pharmacy to find out what’s happening. Ah…no, sorry, we can’t get that one, none at the warehouse, sorry….. Oh! Blimey!! Phone call to the surgery – what can you offer instead, please? No worries, an alternative prescribed and the script sent to the pharmacy. Thursday: no delivery. Friday: no delivery. Phoned the pharmacy – no reply; phone call to Good Samaritan, Malcolm, to call in to retrieve the drugs, who then duly reports that there’s no script there. Eeeesh….hubby is really struggling now, so another phone call to the surgery, another script promised. Fingers crossed it arrives tomorrow.
But, as John says, it’s not a panic relatively-speaking, against a backdrop of all those with COVID-19 who really are struggling to breath, with last count of 11,658 people infected, including the Prime Minister and some of his Ministers, and 578 people dead. Yep, that’s the British stiff, upper lip for you folks!!! And, onwards……
The day started so well. Hubby brought me a cup of tea in bed (thank you) and we got up betimes. Made a great breakfast, well,…. ‘ish’. Buckwheat blinis with buttered mushrooms – sounds good doesn’t it? Only I used hazelnut milk for the blinis which was slightly bitter, so they weren’t as spectacular as I was expecting. Despite that, I’d definitely make them again!!
Mum also got up fairly early and got her own breakfast. She also made her way to the sink to wash her bowl afterwards, and that’s when disaster struck. She was a little too short to reach the sink, so I offered the wooden duck board that I usually use at the cooker for her to stand on. The trouble is, she really doesn’t remember from one minute to the next, and I haven’t quite got the hang of that. She forgot she was on the board and stepped back, only to fall off the edge of it and fell – kerdumpf! Straight on her bum! At first, I thought she’d knocked herself out on the cupboard behind her, but fortunately that wasn’t screwed into the floor, so she just displaced it, and it was just her rear end that felt the brunt of the fall. We hauled her up and transplanted her onto the sofa in the lounge, fed her with arnica, and monitored her for the rest of the day. Nothing much untoward, other than a little bit of discomfort and an argument when she refused paracetamol. Hey-ho!
I had aimed to clear up what was a very messy kitchen, but didn’t get awfully far with that, opting instead to faff about in the lounge with Mum, drink cups of tea and listen to music. But – I did do allof the ironing!! Feeling a bit smug about that!
John opted to do ‘big stuff’ down the bottom of the garden again before lunch, despite it being rather chilly today; then he had a lovely snooze after we’d eaten, having probably worked just a bit too hard – although, I have to say, not beyond his capabilities, as he didn’t come back injured or anything.
Malcolm had already delivered our groceries from the Co-op, which were very gratefully received, and Chris, from church, offered the run up to the pharmacist today for the long-awaited inhaler. So, with bated breath, we waited. When she rang our doorbell, it was a case of: ‘Do you want the good news, or the bad news?’. The good news was that the script had been sent across to the pharmacy and one of the drugs had been dispensed. The bad news was that it wasn’t the inhaler. Still out of stock of the original one, and the alternative would need to be ordered. Perhaps be in by Monday? Grumble, grumble, worry, worry.
Anxiety levels already being high because of the medication situation, they were heightened by Mother’s ‘fall-from-the-great-height-of-one-inch’. I did my best to hide a bit this afternoon by spending the best part of an hour up in our bedroom to calm my nerves, but to be honest, it didn’t help greatly.
And so, despite hubby’s best efforts, I became more and more irritated with our situation. Nothing particular, but suffice to say, we had words. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it, that you always take things out on your nearest and dearest?? But there you are – that’s the pattern of things.
Anyway, dear John made the most glorious cocktail (or two) this evening – a little number called ‘The Brazen Hussy’, the title of which always makes me laugh – and we settled down to enjoy a film. We watched ‘Rocket Man’, the film about Elton John – and we both enjoyed the story. Wasn’t sure it compared to Bohemian Rhapsody, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion!
And so to bed, with the sobering news that there have been over a thousand deaths from COVID-19 to date, and over 17,000 people infected. Dear Lord, deliver us.
Well, I can recommend a ‘Brazen Hussy’ to anyone!! Slept like a log after a couple of those lovely cocktails last night and woke up with more of a spring in my step this morning. The going forward of the hour was a blessing as I was able to catch up with our church service on-line at the appointed time, in the knowledge that others from the congregation were doing the same. Struggled a bit to concentrate though, with all sorts of distractions here at home.
John also got up in good time and he, too, felt a bit better this morning. Still coughing well, of course, but that’s to be expected without his inhaler. Otherwise, he’s still pottering about and doing jobs, for which I am very grateful. Today’s job was to lay the brass threshold strips joining the new kitchen floor to existing floors into the hall, the store room and the utility room. And they look fab! Dead pleased with them, I am!
Mum took her time getting up and coming downstairs, with a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, and absolutely no memory of having refused paracetamol yesterday to ease the pain of her fall at all. Quite willing to take some this morning though, which reduced the possibility of more fuss than necessary! Ooooh, she does love a drama!
Had a lovely text from Tracey, who does Mum’s cleaning and general looking-after of her on a Wednesday, and so I got little notelets out for Mum to write something in return, as she’d expressed a wish to do that last week. But, no… didn’t feel like it today, so we posted a video instead, and Mum felt like a film star. She was like the Queen on Friday, Humpty Dumpty yesterday, and a film star today…. I wonder what tomorrow will bring for her?
No ‘big stuff’ for John today, just a snooze this afternoon while I pottered about upstairs vacuuming all the bloomin’ cat hairs up. The cats aren’t allowed in the bedrooms, but they do love to prowl the landing, where they seem to shed hair by the bucketload, which then gets walked into every room….
John may not have done ‘big stuff’ today but he has excelled himself in the kitchen with high cuisine. Steak and chips for tea, and a luxury ‘paleo’ chocolate mousse, and then to baking a ‘paleo’ loaf this evening. Mmmmm…. the house is heady with its scent as I write – delicious!!
Disappointing news today though is that Oakes’, the farm shop, has suspended its delivery service now. We were doing very well on the grocery front with support from dear friends and the delivery from Oakes’. Despite the fact that John is in the ‘shielded’ group, it has been impossible so far to get any on-line deliveries from any of the major supermarkets, either because we’re queuing to get onto the website, or there are no delivery slots available.
Our difficulty is that John is following a specific diet, and many of the products aren’t sold locally. But no matter, meat and two veg works very well – we don’t have to be fancy! And we are still able to eat – there are some who are not, and who are relying ever more heavily on food banks daily.
For these people, for those who are sick or dying from the virus (the toll in the UK today: those infected nearly 20,000; those who have died, over 1,200), all the carers and front-line workers, we lit a Candle of Hope in our window, along with many other residents in the village and churches together as a symbol of love, faith, hope and prayer during this crisis.
And now, after our day of ‘busy doing nothing…..trying to find lots of things not to do‘, I am going to take the most delightful memory of the day and treasure it: little William, on a video call, showering kiss after kiss on me – mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah! Oh, boy! How my heart overflows!
We have two cats – one of whom, Shadow, is rather senile. He spends much of the day mewing at us for food. We may just have put food into his bowl, but he wanders across to the cupboard where we store the cat food, looking plaintively at us, and miaows. Constantly. John never wanted the cats originally, but the kids did, so we all bullied him into it. That was fifteen years ago. The kids have left home and we are left with the cats. Poor John.
For a while, for two years in fact, my very dear friend Anita cared for the cats when John’s immunity was very compromised, and he had respite from them. But now they’re back. Miaowing, continuously. John says: “Anyone want a cat??” Well, words to that effect anyway!!
I was wondering why the situation with the cats had raised its ugly head just now – but then I remembered. Oh, yes, of course, we are in isolation and our awareness of all things at home is heightened. Under normal circumstances, we’d be out and about pottering about, so we wouldn’t notice home stuff quite as much. Here’s the new normal, folks!!
That aside, we are coping very well with our isolation. John is continuing with jobs, and I am continuing with the general household chores, which, for those of you who know me well, will know that I adore….. harrumph!
Anyway, today’s job was finishing off the threshold strip into the store room. This involved raising the door a bit to accommodate the strip, i.e. taking the door off and planing the bottom to ease it by a few millimetres. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, you might say…… until you factor in the fact that our house is very old and creaking, literally, at its hinges. There was nothing much in the door frame to screw into once the hinges had been removed, so the ol’ man’s had to use his ingenuity once again and fill in the holes and glue stuff together. He’ll be finishing that job tomorrow, then…. no rush!
Not really sure what I have done today of any note – been very busy worrying though…… mostly about John having to visit the doctor’s surgery for his three-monthly injection for prostate cancer (there was no alternative option). And then taking delivery of groceries (thank you, Malcolm), cleaning mirrors, washing, cooking, tidying, washing all incoming objects to the house, worrying, baking (made a banana cake), following social media, caring for Mum, more worrying, some meditation, more social media, a game or two of e-Scrabble, and a bit of TV.
And, two very exciting episodes, whereby 1) a parcel was delivered containing the dried fruit & nuts John had ordered weeks ago, and 2) a prescription was delivered. Yes, folks, the all-important inhaler arrived!!! Whoopee-doop!! John (and me!) may breathe again.
Highlights of the day for me have been communications from friends and family; lovely emails, comments on the blog, text messages with uplifting thoughts, and a great video from my friend, Louise. Such activity is what keeps us going, so thank you, one and all who are talking to us in one way or another.
Once more, we note the progress of the virus; a slight slackening of pace (but don’t read too much into that they say) in infection and death rates: 9,000 and 1,408 today respectively; a quarter of the hospital doctors off sick or in isolation, with 3 consultants dead; and slick preparations of conference centres to house all those who soon may need a hospital bed.
And finally, this from Ian McMillan’s Twitter page today, which I think is rather poignant. God bless.
It turned out that she was having one of her ‘turns’ where she feels a bit dizzy and that affects her innards, one way or another. And dang! I had totally forgotten to bring her emergency tablets from her flat for such an event. As it was so early in the morning and I could go in the back way, I risked an outing and sped along in the car to collect her tablets, washing every surface I could find when I got back, just in case the pesky virus had been lurking anywhere. Didn’t see a soul.
I put her back to bed, having dosed her with a tablet, and with the security of a bowl ‘just in case’, and she slept like a log for another three hours. Hubby, his duty done on the line: ‘Your Mum’s here’, also fell back to sleep for nearly the same amount of time.
That left me to potter about, fiddling with this and that, and really not getting an awful lot done, but paying attention to those little things that normally one glosses over, like cleaning up a coffee stain on the carpet, emptying the dust out of a trinket box and re-filling it with clean clobber, and sparkling up Mum’s rings as she slept.
In no time at all, lunchtime arrived. John was up already, then Mum was up and padding into the kitchen, unsure as to whether to have breakfast cereal or a lunchtime sandwich. We opted for the sandwich and a cup of tea, which went down OK with no ill-effects.
Exhausted by my efforts with the trinket box in the morning, I felt it absolutely necessary to take a rest, drink tea, and sit and watch TV for an hour after lunch with that legal entertainer, Judge Rinder, again.
Afterwards, the weather, being pleasantly mild with very little wind, prompted a little walk round the garden. We visited John’s ‘Man Cave’ at the bottom of the garden where he was in residence, and Mum duly admired his handiwork to date. She also duly admired the very same things she had admired a day or two before, and also on previous days before that. It was touching though, as we searched for the goldfish in the pond, exclaimed over the frogspawn that was there and marvelled at the birdsong in the air.
But, as the day wore on, old worry guts emerged and took over somewhat, to the point that, I pretty much bit John’s head off when he offered to help me prepare the evening meal. Oh, dear!! Why do I do that?? No idea, but note to self: must find an hour for respiteeach day on my own …..
Made a lovely stir-fry for our meal, but it didn’t go down well with Mum as the vegetables had some resistance to the bite. So, John and I ate ours while I cooked Mum’s for another 20 minutes – which ruined the lovely, juicy steak in it……I could have wept. And wept some more, as the constancy of distance between us and our family is brought into focus each time we have some form of contact with them. They are all doing a sterling job of keeping in touch with photos and chatty video-links, but it’s not the same……
And it never will be the same for many families in the future, and particular families now who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 – 1,789 deaths so far, including a 13 year-old boy – or who are anxiously supporting a family member with the virus – over 25,000 infected that we know of. Dear Lord, comfort us all.
And here’s a comfort, from Charlie Mackesy’s book, The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse, which I recommend to you:.
8: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation Day 16
In the meantime, I am on the hunt for ways to entertain Mum. John is pretty much self-sufficient just now, rummaging about in the ‘den’ at the bottom of the garden doing the ‘big stuff’, or in the garage next to the house tinkering with the car, or in the house, helping me finalise the kitchen we have re-furbed. The trouble is, Mum doesn’t really have the inclination to do anything!!! She had been telling us for a while that she has just been sitting watching the grass grow, or counting the bricks on the wall opposite, outside her flat. We weren’t sure we believed her then, but in reality, it’s probably true. So, ah-ha! Knitting is on the horizon. Let’s see how that goes. Oh, dear, it feels like a Jasper Carrot sketch where he’s watching wood warp. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that…….. although, come to think of it, we have plenty of wood in the ‘den’ at the bottom of the garden for warp-watching!!
Other than that, it’s been a pretty decent day, one way or another. Still in e-contact with friends (Happy Birthday, Carol!!) and family and a video-link to middle son and grandson, which made my day. Eldest son checked on our shopping situation. No-one has snapped anyone’s head off today, although tongues have been bitten. The Vicar phoned to check we were OK, and my prayer group rallied round in support when I said I was having a ‘wobble’. The open fire was lit, warming the sitting room, food was prepped and eaten, and cups of tea made and drunk.
And on the ‘outside’, there are nearly 30,000 people infected with the virus, and specifically, 2,352 people have tragically died. For a few hours, while we enjoyed our wine and our quiz evening, we forgot the ‘outside’ world. I am brought to an abrupt halt now as I think of all those in need in whatever way that may be. God bless them
9: No longer leukaemia….. but isolation, Day 17
Serendipity today! Moira phoned to see if there was anything we needed. The answer is not really, we are managing just now but, if she knew of anyone among her group of volunteers who might be going to one of the big supermarkets (but not making a special journey), we could do with one or two specialist items that they don’t offer in the local shops. Moira’s suggestion that we order on-line made me hoot, as John has been unable to access any single one of the supermarkets on-line so far despite being in the shielded group.
A short while later, Julie, one of Moira’s ‘army’, phoned to say she still goes shopping in Waitrose and would pick up said specialist items if and when we needed them, and she’d also drop into Oakes’ farm shop for meat if we wanted it. Brilliant! We’re very grateful that we have another lifeline – it feels awful always relying on one person all the time. It feels awful relying on anybody to be honest – especially if they are going out of their way for us.
So, the day went on with standard things like food and drinks prep, touching up areas of painting in the ongoing refurbishment of the kitchen, faffing about with hanging pictures, rubbing down pieces of wood and so on. Mum took to the knitting really well and did several rows. John dug out the lawnmower, got it going – it must be at least five years since the motor turned over – and mowed the lawn. He also did more things in the shed at the bottom of the garden – it’ll be perfect in there soon!!
Then the ol’ man came in for a cuppa, pretty much exhausted, and went to the computer to see if there was any movement on any of the on-line shops. Oh my! His exhaustion forgotten, he came running into the kitchen to tell me that there were delivery slots!! And not only that, there seems to be a promise of regular delivery slots!! Honestly, you’d think we’d won the lottery!! Excitedly, we looked for the items we can’t get locally and managed to order a few. Not only that, the order will arrive on Sunday!! We had been expecting to get a slot towards the end of April. We were like kids in a sweet shop!! Serendipity indeed! What a happy-chance that we had two offers of help today!! It feels so much better to be able to spread the shopping load. But honestly, who’da thought it? That the highlight of the day, nay the week, would be a shopping delivery slot?? And we’re only a couple of weeks in…..
But, boy, we’re so thankful for all the help we’re getting; it seems that the good people outweigh the bad in times of trouble, with outpourings of support in so many different ways. What else can we do but applaud those professionals caring for the 33,718 people infected with the virus, and supporting the 2,921 families of those who have died? As well as those who are caring for the vulnerable (us) and all those in the retail and distribution industries. Well, I suppose we can urge the government to jolly well hurry up with all the right protective gear, proper resources and a decent wage for them? Now then, where’s that petition……..?
10: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 18
I suppose every day is like no other day, but in current times we sort of expect to wake up each morning to Groundhog Day. I mean, how many times can you describe the washing, or the food and drink prep, the TV programmes you watch or the social media you’ve been engaged in? I really wasn’t expecting much of the day today, especially after the unexpected thrill of a shopping delivery slot yesterday and feeling pretty good after watching ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ at which I belly-laughed so much yesterday evening.
Of course there were the run-of-the-mill things that kept the seams of today together, but the day was also punctuated with very ‘un-Groundhog Day’ stuff too. For a start, the doorbell pealed through the house on more than one occasion – shopping (thank you, Julie), the post (mostly junk), DPD (oooh, what’s this? wine? yes please!), prescriptions (twice – thank you, Balsall Pharmacy), Yodel (clippers for shaving the cat……..mind you, I think you’re having a laugh, you’ll get nowhere near him with those!).
Secondly, there was the realisation that the paint was dry on the baton for the new blind in the kitchen (do a little dance…..) and we can actually fit the blind. Well, John can fit it and I’ll just be the glamorous assistant, anyway. So that’s what we did. Fitted the blind. And….ooooh, it looks good!!
And thirdly, excitement down by the ‘Man-Shed’! I am washing-up, gazing out of the window, admiring our newly mown lawn when I spy John – with a ladder. This sort of event is not unusual in our household, as you know, so no need to take any particular notice. Ladder is duly leaned up onto the Man Shed wall and John climbs up. Something catches my eye – what is he doing? That ladder is leaning to the right……actually, it’s not leaning, it’s moving……. hmmm……yep, John is definitely taking a ride to the right……and, oh, look!! He’s disappeared altogether, Del Boy-style, into the bushes.
Well, of course, I go into 999 mode and sprint down the garden to see if he’s alright. Of course he is. Still in Del Boy mode, he’s up and shaken himself off, as if nothing has happened. Yes, dear, thank you for your concern but really, nothing to see here! And onto the job at hand…….
But, of course, on sharing the story of the ‘ride to the right’ with the family, we were reminded that accidents at home on the DIY jobs we do now, will put extra pressure on the NHS, if hospital treatment is needed. It’s a sobering thought. Especially as they are dealing with ever more cases of the virus daily. As of yesterday (3 April 2020), the figures were over 38,000 people infected, and 3,605 people have died.
Sending love to every single one of you. Hope you have a good weekend and stay safe.
11: No longer leukaemia…..but isolation, Day 19
Chilly nights. We’ve had a few of those, and I don’t normally worry about them since we’re lucky enough to have a nice, toasty home. But tonight……hmmm…. it’s a chilly night and the boiler isn’t working. No worries, we have an open fire roaring in the grate in the lounge, creating warmth and a cosy glow. We have a fan heater for Mum in her room to provide a ten-minute blast of hot air before bed and a nice hot water bottle between the sheets, as well as offers of convector heaters if we need them. Not sure if there’ll be a chilly morning, but we’ll see. Thank goodness it’s forecast for a lovely day tomorrow, although maybe we’ll have to do a Joe Wickes warm-up to take the chill off!!
I did phone our heating engineer, who said he’d closed his business due to the lock-down, but obviously, for customers like ourselves he’d consider making a call-out. In the meantime, can we have a go at sorting the heating out ourselves with a bit of over-the-phone guidance? Twice the boiler self-started just for knowing the heating engineer was on the other end of the phone. But eventually, no avail, and it has sat, stubbornly, refusing to fire up since. Probably have to get the manufacturer out. Next week, maybe. I suppose that’s allowed, is it?
In the meantime, great excitement with the Virtual Grand National this afternoon. Pete and Dawn prepared a Sweepstake and included us. Much shouting at the TV and groaning when a horse fell. John had been allotted ‘Walk in the Mill’ which came in second to much whooping. Prizes will be available once we’re released from jail. Oh, no! Sorry! Sorry! I’ll try that again…. prizes will be released once we’re out of isolation. We’ll look forward to that.
Other than that, highlights of the day have been beautiful interactions with our wonderful boys; banter and uplifting words from friends in various WhatsApp groups; watching that great, classic film ‘Nine to Five’ with Mum, who thoroughly enjoyed it; John rummaging about in his ‘Man Shed’; and me, doing a bit of a paint job on a pair of brilliantly-made ‘feet’ to attach at the base of the fireplace surround in the kitchen.
Home-life is lovely, but social-life is better. Let us hope that the latter will not be too long in the waiting as we continue to do all we can to keep the numbers down of people who are poorly or dying of COVID-19. Latest count: nearly 42,000 people are infected, and 4,313 have died. Most of the nation weeps for everyone affected. Let us pray that the unenlightened will soon come to their senses and take all appropriate precautions. God bless.
12: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 20
Palm Sunday. The sun was shining and the virtual service from St Peter’s in the village was on point. We didn’t have the procession or the donkey, but we did have the people. Whether you’re into the ‘God-stuff’ or not, there was no denying that Guy read beautifully from the Old Testament – a piece all about understanding how to manage when it’s hellish; Becky, John and Mary performed a great little puppet show, with wooden spoon people, depicting Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem and predicting the fickleness of the people; and Alison gave us comforting words to help us through another week in her sermon. And Mum was dressed in her finest, even putting on her lipstick this morning.
One of us used the weather wisely today, getting out there and getting on. I did a lot of faffing about. Mum did a lot of sitting about and sleeping. Although, I was able to cross one job off my list – and that was transplanting a very sad and sorry lavender bush into another pot, winkling it away from its pot-mate – a self-seeded buddleia. Keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll both survive the trauma of being parted….
So, the one who was wise and used the weather well, managed to do more ‘big stuff’ down in the shed at the bottom of the garden. It’s not over yet, but he can now see the wood for the trees. Shelving is in place. The single door is fitted. Ceiling racking available. Heavy tools in situ. And now he’s wrestling with the up-and-over door that doesn’t want to play ball at all just yet. But you know what? The ol’ man is strong.May not be as strong as he’d like, of course, but he’s able to lift and carry, shift and hold stuff, make stuff (a Granny bannister today) – and deal with things. Alleluia!! Keeping our fingers crossed that it’ll continue…….
And so, to a delicious roast chicken dinner for our evening meal, sluiced down with a very palatable red wine, and a rhubarb crumble for pudding. First pickings of the season and, oh, it was nectar!! Palm Sunday – always rhubarb crumble – wouldn’t have it any other way. But, after dinner, I did notice that the box of empty wine bottles is getting a bit full……now, who’s that who’s drinking all the wine??? Can I blame Mum?
No blame. Nowhere. No thank you. We’re in a big enough mess as it is without the blame game. But I must say that I am so disappointed that the seriousness of the country’s situation hasn’t sunk in among some people yet. There are those who seem oblivious to the effects of this darned virus and don’t think it will be anything to worry about for them. Even the PM had a cavalier attitude to it early on in March, saying the virus wouldn’t stop him shaking hands with people. He’s probably ruing that now, as he’s hospitalised after ten days of trying beat the thing at home. He, too, has become a statistic, and is one of today’s figures: 47,806 infected people. On humanitarian grounds, keeping my fingers crossed that he, along with every other infected person, doesn’t become a dead statistic, of which there were 4,934 as of yesterday.
The symbolic Candle of Hope burns in my window every Sunday evening, and it burns in my heart every day for every single person, whatever their circumstances just now. Take care everyone
13: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 21
For the squeamish among you, look away now – and move on to paragraph 2. For those not so squeamish, read on…..
A couple of weeks ago I spent the morning tidying Mum up and, in the absence of a chiropodist, one of the things I did was to sort out her feet. Along with the idea of having Mum to live with us, this was one on the list of ‘things I never want to do’. And today, it was another round of tending her feet. Though it’s a reminder of how humble and kind we need to be during these difficult times, it’s now on the list of things that ‘I wish I didn’t have to do’.
Other than the things we all wish we didn’t have to do, there are things we like doing. So, my thing today was my own pampering, thank you very much, and I feel a bit better now. John’s thing was baking. I am not ‘a pudding person’, as many of you know, so it’s always with reluctance that I cook anything sweet. John is the opposite and has railed against his misfortune of being ‘pudding-less’ for years. However, with the enforced ‘stay at home’, he can now come into his own and bake! So he is, and today he did. He’s like a pig in clover just now as he’s got a stash of paleo desserts: chocolate mousses x 4; a large blueberry muffin cake; a loaf of ‘bread’ and, awaiting the final flourish tomorrow, a rich fruit cake.
Later on, after our meal this evening, we adjourned to the lounge. “Do you want to watch TV, Mum?” “Yes, please.” What would you like to watch?” “Anything.” It was Panorama. With half an ear on the programme and a full eye on my phone and social media, Mum told me, pointedly, that the programme was very interesting. Good, I said. Two minutes later, she asked me if I was watching the programme. I said yes. Two minutes after that, she told me I certainly wasn’t watching the programme and whatever was I doing glued to my phone? Despite being a year or two from the age of 70, I felt like a guilty teenager. Yikes!!
In the end, we didn’t watch TV after all. I suggested that Mum choose some of her poems to read to us while I did the ironing. She was happy, I was happy, and John, snoozing the corner bless him, was happy. And that way, we passed a pleasant evening.
I may not have been watching but I was certainly aware of Panorama and the fears and anxieties voiced by those being interviewed. It’s not just the disabled who are fearful of how this pandemic is going to pan out. With the promise of ‘it’s going to get worse before it gets better’, and NHS staff acknowledging that they are not going to be able to cope as the numbers needing hospitalisation and intensive care beds rise, many are beginning to run on fear and adrenaline now.
Of the people who have been tested, 51,608 are infected, including the Prime Minister who is intensive care this evening; and of those hospitalised, there have been 5,373 deaths – a figure that doesn’t include those people who are dying in the community.
And, with the shock of a break-in at our own village farm shop, Oakes’, overnight, we realise that crime, although it’s less than before the ‘stay-at-home’ order, doesn’t go away even at times like this.
So where does this leave us? Well, there’s always hope isn’t there? And, of course, Mum’s poetry to enjoy when the going gets tough.
14: No longer leukamia… but isolation, Day 22
Today was the day we took risks. Not that I am proud of the fact, because taking a risk in such a dangerous, virus-laden environment would be stupid. But these risks were calculated, planned and prepared for.
With the boiler down, the Worcester Boiler people sent a man in. Well, for a start, may I say that the young man who came was marvellous. Not only did he initially refuse to enter our home, but then phoned to kindly let us know that because we had so carefully put a sign on our door saying we are self-isolating, he wouldn’t be able to come in. Of course, he was thinking we might have the virus. We were thinking he might have the virus. Anyway, the confusion was dispelled, and then John fired a warning, “My wife thinks you should wear a mask and gloves when you come in. Ha! Ha! Ha!” The young man said, “Don’t worry, sir. I intend to come in wearing a mask and gloves.” No Ha! Ha! Ha! about it. In fact, we all wore masks and gloves and I washed down every single surface I thought the young man might have touched with soap and water after he left. Take that, you pesky virus!!
But, sadly, despite the fact that the young man was very nice and very conscientious, he wasn’t able to fix the boiler. He suggested that the fault was not the boiler, in fact. Might be the pump. Might be air in the system. Might be an electrical interruption….. who knows what the heck it might be? We are hoping our own heating engineer will come tomorrow and sort it out for us. I’ll keep you posted. (I’m sure you can’t wait….)
So, having ‘a man in’ was Risk Number One.
Eldest son is taking a two-week holiday from work. Obviously, he and the family can’t go away to Disney Land, Paris, as planned and paid for, because that’s not allowed. But he is actually taking a break, so he phoned to say he’d do a bit of shopping for us if we needed anything. Thinks…… hmmm….. yes, thank you, actually we do need one or two bits of fresh veg, including cauliflower, and how about you buy the kids Easter Eggs, please?? The ones I wasgoing to give? Sorry, I can’t get them over to your house!!
Plans in place, one of the ones I love so very much arrived on our drive, mid-afternoon, with the shopping. He plopped the shopping in the porch and then stood back, at the end of the path. We stood back, just in front of the doorway. I could have wept. Here was my beautiful and dearest first-born, physically there, in front of us, and we couldn’t hug, hold tight, or express our love in any other way than through words hanging on the breeze, or through remote gestures.
And so, after all the goodbyes and ‘send our love to everyone at your house’, on to the washing of all the goods making their way into our house, and another ‘take that, you pesky virus!’
So, visit by Son Number One was Risk Number Two.
Just now, I don’t regret either of the risks but hope that neither of them literally puts them (or us) at risk of illness or death. Sadly, as of yesterday, the 55,242 people who were at risk are now infected with COVID-19, including the Prime Minister still in ICU, and 6,159 people have died from the effects of the virus.
In my view, love is everything. With grateful thanks to Son Number One and the Worcester Boiler man, I suggest that if we do anything and everything with love – and that means hand-washing, social-distancing and staying at home – then we will overcome those things that challenge us – even COVID-19
15: No longer leukaemia…… but isolation, Day 23
Well, Day 23 was not a bad day!! The weather was pretty good, being sunny and warm, and we had some great highlights today.
First off, our heating engineer, Steve, phoned to say he’d be arriving at lunchtime. He made sure we weren’t infectious, promised to don a mask and gloves on arrival and keep his distance. I promised to do the same. Such a nice chap and absolutely knows his stuff – unlike the young man yesterday, apparently. Steve made no criticism of yesterday’s man, but within minutes he had identified exactly what the problem was and set about rectifying it – a faulty motorised valve.
Anyway, at the end of it all, I asked what I owed, but Steve said nothing to pay. Technically, the heating system is still under warranty. But, I mean, I couldn’t let him go empty-handed, could I? He said he’d be happy if I wanted to give him something for a drink. So I did that, and we were both happy. Fingers crossed that the problem is cured, but I have every confidence that it is.
Secondly, we were just generally pottering about, tackling those isolation-induced, self-imposed jobs, when the doorbell rang. It was Livia – with a bunch of tulips to show she’s thinking of us. Wow! How unexpected and what a wonderful surprise. We chatted for a bit – she, a good way down the path, and me, in the doorway. At that moment, I thanked God for kind and thoughtful people.
Those isolation-induced, self-imposed jobs include the ol’ man using his creative skills once more. This time, it’s the kitchen bin! Having bought a couple of bins, one for recycling and one for general waste, it was time to try and place them neatly into the row of existing cupboards. It has involved all sorts of sawing, screwing, gluing and wriggling the pieces together, but honestly, it’s a really good job. Not finished yet though…..
By mid-afternoon, it was time to winkle Mum from the sofa and out into the garden for a little toddle. Reluctant as always, she wrinkled her nose at the thought of going outside. But boy, once out there, she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Especially playing at being Goldilocks. ‘Let’s sit here in the sun, on the swinging chair, for a while.’ she said. But the sun’s in her eyes. ‘Let’s move to that bench there.’ Sun’s still in her eyes. I tell you what, Mum, I’ll run and get your other sunglasses, see if that makes any difference. It didn’t. ‘Let’s try that bench up on the patio.’ Nope, still no good. In the end, we moved chairs and a table onto the lawn, and she was happy. We sat, contentedly, sipping drinks, taking in the bird-song and making daisy-chains. Nice.
Then, after our evening meal it was time for the now weekly quiz, with Centre Stage friends. I thought it was a tough one this week – probably because I didn’t ‘bring a bottle to the party’ this time. Despite having to think very hard, it was fun and delightful to see everyone, even remotely, again – which made me thoughtful and conscious of counting my blessings.
The direct, face-to-face contact with people, both yesterday and today, brought our isolation into a sharp focus of thanksgiving. Grateful for our home, friends and family as I think of the 5,492 people not so lucky and now infected with the virus; and the families and friends of those who’ve died – a further 938 of them as of 8 o’clock this morning. We are now carrying totals of over 60,000 people infected and over 7,00 dead. Lordy, Lordy – it’s all getting a bit hard to compute.
16: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 24
Weather-wise, it’s been another warm and beautiful day. Managed to get Mum out in the garden, but after a minute or two she felt cold, so blankets and cushions were on call. There was a very slight breeze so, after another minute or two, she was wanting to head back indoors. It was too windy, bless her. Ah, well, we tried.
Anyway, John and I pottered outside trying to make silk purses out of sow’s ears with the materials we’ve got – quite successfully, I think. Not sure how the plants I’ve put into pots will fare though, as we are devoid of the standard stuff and they are sitting in GroBag, or roses, shrubs and bushes compost. We’ll see……. Mostly, it was a tug-of-war with many of the plants who were cohabiting the pots. Usually a self-seeded something in with a treasured purchase, and the self-seeded something was winning the battle. Fingers crossed that the treasured plants will smile again.
John was down in the ‘man-shed’ area, refurbishing the soffits. Me, being of a very helpful nature, suggested he might wear a mask as he pulled the rotten wood away. Him, being a good husband, acquiesced. All good and hunky dory. Except that, about an hour later, he suddenly realised he had lost both of his hearing aids. Whaaaat?? Talk about a needle in a haystack job!! Or, more precisely, two needles in haystack. We hardly knew where to start looking. There are trees, bushes and shrubs in that area; not to mention all the junk from the man-shed awaiting is rightful home; then there’s years and years of decayed leaves and brambles and deflated footballs……I could go on.
We set about the task with a fine-tooth comb, a pair of secateurs and a lot of swearing. I said a prayer to St Anthony. Miraculously, John looked down and found a hearing aid. Well, that’s good. At that point, John realised that, in removing his mask as he had a rest, it must have flung the hearing aids off. We scrambled through the jungle. No luck. I started cutting down the great pile of branches and brambles to sift through them and said to St Anthony, “I’m not looking in the right place, am I?” A swift ‘no’ came back and a second later, John picked up a pile of moss in which the other hearing aid was nestling nicely. Phew!!
And so, another week has passed and all of a sudden, it’s time to stand alongside our neighbours and applaud all those who are looking after us, which we did, loud and long this evening. Then, for me, being Maundy Thursday, a visit to virtual church and an uplift from Moira’s sermon before a period of quiet reflection and music from Taize.
Which brings me to the ever-grinding news that, as of yesterday, the Corona virus continues its expected trajectory with 4,344 people recorded as infected and 881 people died. And every single day, those good people whom we applauded this evening risk their health and lives to be there for us. It’s mind-boggling just now.
17: No longer leukaemia……but isolation, Day 25
You know what? Even in isolation there are obstacles. You get up in the morning thinking you are going to achieve x, y, or z, but in reality achieve none of things you wanted to do that day. I had it all planned: get up early, yoga, shower, breakfast, gardening, lunch. Then sort Mum’s hair, more gardening, evening meal, watch Jane Eyre from the National Theatre, bed. Simple.
My reality was: got up early, faffed about, galloped downstairs to answer the front door where a food parcel had been deposited, tried to flag the driver to say we didn’t need it, but too late, spent a good half an hour cleaning every item and putting it all away, then breakfasted. By then it’s nearly half-past ten and Mum isn’t up. And I’m not gardening. John, on the other hand, has got up, had breakfast and is out putting the fascias on his ‘man shed’. I winkle Mum out of bed, make her tea, supervise her getting her breakfast and suggest sorting her hair out then, instead of later. It’s before lunch, but in hindsight it was a very wise move.
To clarify the term ‘sort Mum’s hair out’ is to say that I planned to give her a home perm. I have not ever done anything like this before and I’m a bit nervous. I have bought all the right equipment, I have the model and just need to execute the deed. Three hours later (literally) Mum’s hair is done. But what a palaver. And it’s not a great look, if I’m honest. The trouble was, that a) Mum’s hair is very sparse, and b) the curlers I bought are a couple of sizes too big and kept falling out. And I don’t have a hooded hairdryer like they do at the hairdressers……..
It wasn’t all bad though. Mum really enjoyed listening to me reading her the book I’d bought her for her birthday, as we sat and waited for the perm to ‘take’. We had some giggles while I was putting the curlers in, over and over, as they dropped out. And we whooped with laughter as I nearly drowned her trying wash the lotion off.
Not long after I closed the hairdressing salon, the doorbell rang, and it was a Tesco delivery. John had managed another delivery slot!! More ‘shopping cleaning’ and I am still not in the garden.
Conscious that we really don’t need the food parcel from the government, we have asked for John to be removed from the list. Many items are on John’s dietary ‘avoid’ list so, as we’d found someone who could really use them, I re-packed the box. Still not in the garden, folks…… and now it’s time to prepare our Good Friday evening meal.
As we sit to eat our meal, a wave of guilt storms in. I thank the Lord for our many blessings, but oh, my goodness, what of those who have very little; or those working hard to keep us safe, or are suffering from the virus? With today the worst so far, in excess of the worst days in Spain and Italy at this point, there are 5,706 infected and 980 deaths. Can we do as we’re told do you think, and stay at home to combat the virus? I am hoping so, but not yet counting on it.
18: No longer leukaemia…..but isolation, Day 26
It’s Easter Eve today, and we have had a cracking day. Malcolm dropped some shopping in (thank you); I watched a fantastic production of The National Theatre’s ‘Jane Eyre’ on TV; we enjoyed gardening in the sunshine, as well as eating our lunch out there; we were enthralled by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ – Superstar’ streamed onto the TV; I had a good old natter to dear friend Carol on the phone; and then, this evening we Skyped more dear friends, Pete and Dawn, contentedly and amusingly for hours on end.
As you can see, our thoughts and activities are starting to turn our traditional activities into a ‘New Norm’. And yes, even the traditional Easter Bonnet Parade has fallen victim too! The physical parade in church has been replaced by a virtual one, with photos of our creations. Here’s Mum’s entry to the competition: ‘Eating her Hat’!
And what about our plans for egg-rolling? How are we planning to do that in the ‘New Norm’ eh?
Well, see here – there’s been a news bulletin and I hand you over to our man in the field…..
BREAKING NEWS – ANOTHER MAJOR SPORTING EVENT CANCELLED.
It has just been confirmed that the latest sporting evening to fall victim of the global Corona virus pandemic is the 2020 Easter Egg Rolling Championship. Organisers are said to be highly disappointed at this unprecedented decision, which is thought to be the first cancelled event ever.
President of LENT (Letting Eggs Nosedive and Tear), Mr East. R. Buni has said alternative options were considered, including rolling numerous courses around the country simultaneously using technology to join competitors. However, it is thought that the shortage of eggs, causing them to be a more highly valued commodity than previous years, means some contestants may have been unable to justify participation. Mr Buni has said he will bounce into the 2021 championship with a spring in his step and hopes next year’s championship is bigger and better than ever. Unconfirmed reports suggest this could include rolling down an alternative course to the traditional Abbey Fields, with Snowdon having been suggested. Another option could be using ostrich eggs.
Rollers, the Association for Championship Players, has said it will support its players in any way possible. It is hoped that the current egg designs, although as yet unreleased to the media, will be allowed at the 2021 competition. It is thought this will also help all the contestants who paint their eggs at the last minute, meaning no mad dash this year.
As yet another major sporting event falls to this pandemic, the message is clear. The race is off, and LENT may be over for the year, but stay safe and STAY INDOORS. Mr Choc O’Late, (aka Michael, middle son) reporting for Bank Holiday News.
So, it’s official – we can’t meet up with the family for our traditional fun in Abbey Fields, rolling our eggs down the hill. That, and many other ‘New Norms’ hurt. But we are trying, at least, to keep ourselves and others safe to face another day, and therefore brighten lives, in the future, along the way. Praying that all of the 5,234 people infected today recover, and the families of those who have died, all 917 of them, find some comfort in the Easter message, whatever their persuasion.
19: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 27
Easter Sunday, and lots of loving messages from friends and family wishing us a Happy Easter. Feels weird, doesn’t it? We would normally see people and have our kids and their families round for an Easter celebration, in some format or other, usually along the lines of a church service, then ‘Brunch’, egg-rolling in Abbey Fields, Kenilworth, and finally, a real feast of a lamb roast dinner, a delicious pud and fine wine. We did our best to re-create it all as best we could, but… oh! how I missed them all today. My beautiful boys – I so wanted to see them, to hug them, and to celebrate the meaning of Easter with them face-to-face.
However, despite the heartache, we ‘did us best’. John and I determinedly lay in bed a while this morning to rest our hearts, souls and bodies. Mum also lay in bed to rest her 94 years. After a heart-warming video-link to his walk in the park with the dog (which looked absolute bliss), Michael then videoed William on his ‘treasure hunt’ for Easter Eggs in the garden. This was closely followed by Paul sharing a brilliant clip of Freddie, squeaking with excitement at the vision of his Easter Eggs on the dining room table and the treasure hunt-to-be. Indescribable emotions – oh, dear, I’m all over the shop.
We may not have had the full annual family egg-rolling contest for real this year, but at our end I hard-boiled the eggs, and when they were cool enough, we three chez nous sat in the garden under the warmth of the sun, to decorate them. Mum thought it was great fun and entered the spirit of it with great gusto. She did a good job too, on the decorating, but personally, I think John’s was best. His egg was a ‘cool dude’, wearing sunglasses and everything.
We then set about the business of actually rolling the eggs down the ‘little hill’ in our garden, where the kids tobogganed and did roly-polys back in the day, and we now sing ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ with the grandchildren. Mum thought it was a very big hilland gamely puffed her way to the top. John carefully explained the rules. We all duly chucked our eggs down the hill, round the swing and on towards the sleeper, which acted as goal. John arrived first to aim at goal but hit the post to shock all round; I fell short; but jammy old Mum hit the target bang on!! Wouldn’t you just know it??
The great excitement was filmed and shared. The Kenilworth Sleaths also made a very good effort and shared pictures of their eggs decorated with sparkly stuff, but no rolling. And we’re yet to have an update on the Sutton and Cambridge Sleaths’ efforts……
On a completely different note, another great excitement was also shared today. Not filmed or photographed, but audio recorded. So, what was it? Well, some of you may know that John has a projectin the garage – a re-build job on a Lotus Elan Plus 2 (long story). When he bought it, he assured me that it was pretty much all there and didn’t need a lot of work. He’s right, of course, because today the engine did seem to be all there, and he was able to share the beautiful sound of it running. Such a thrill!!
The project, of course, is to help keep us interested when all else fails. Today, of all days, being Easter an’ all, we saw a glimmer of hope. Not only did the engine on the car start, but, as of 9 o’clock on 12 April 2020, we saw a slight reduction in deaths due to COVID-19 with 737; and the trend for infections may be beginning to plateau with 5,288 people proving positive for the darned virus. Still a lot and too many, but let us pray the plateau or downward trend continues.
20: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 28
It’s been a funny old day. Not much excitement after the thrill of yesterday’s egg-rolling event – rather an everyday story of village folk today, so here goes.
Just as you get used to wafting outside into the sunshine to take your breakfast on the patio because it’s so warm, you find the wind has changed and you’re scuttling back indoors to keep warm. It was a chilly 7 degrees this morning, so I certainly wasn’t going to be wandering outside in my PJs. Instead, I spent three hours on the phone talking to my very dear friend, George, as he remotely walked me through the intricacies of WordPress, the site on which I publish my blog. Been using the site for a few years now, but being a bit of a technophobe, hadn’t really got to grips with it at all. Grateful beyond words for his help. What a gift friendship is.
Mum wandered into the computer room as we were chatting, puzzled as to what was keeping me away. Within a very short space of time, Mum has started to feel lonely if one or other of us isn’t around. She’d spend hours on her own in her flat, counting the bricks on the wall opposite, or the leaves blowing into her doorway, or just staring into space, but here she’s quickly got very used to our company. Not at all surprising, of course.
After lunch, I pottered in the garden – eesh, it were bitterly cold, so I didn’t stay long. John is still sorting his ‘man shed’ and brought plumbing bits up to the house to tidy and log what he’s got. Then he had to labour to take them back down to the bottom of the garden. His lungs have taken a pounding since the omission of the inhalers a couple of weeks or so ago and he’s developed a horrible cough. Now I’m nagging, ‘Do you think you should call the doctor? Get some tablets?’ Oh, dear! Poor John. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.
This afternoon, I sat down to listen a video clip, that one of my friends had sent me from church, of Nicky Gumbel talking about choosing faith not fear. Unfortunately, within five minutes I had nodded off. I’m not sure how long for, but when I woke up, the others were very gleeful in pointing out that I’d been asleep!! As I say, it’s been a funny old day – I rarely fall asleep during the day, but then, these are odd times, aren’t they?? But the Nicky Gumbel talk was very good when I watched it later.
The ol’ man cooked our evening meal, despite feeling a bit rough – he’s an absolute trooper – but after a nap on the sofa this evening in front of a blazing open fire (aha! who’s falling asleep now, eh?), he took himself off to bed early to try and deal with whatever’s going on in his chest.
And so, now to bed, after a day’s journey highlighted by fabulous friendships and family chats. Other than the delightful chat to George this morning, Louise sent us great video of her new home; Sue D played scrabble with me on-line; my prayer group checked in first thing this morning, and throughout the day, on WhatsApp; and Lizzie Ish, Tim, Linda and Dawn all checked in on email; Graham and Gail sent us lovely e-cards for Easter; Michael WhatsApped with William on video showing giggling fun with tummy tickles; Harriet sent us a pic of Freddie and his new, huge floor jigsaw puzzle; and I spoke to Andrew on the phone. Delightful.
I repeat, it’s been a funny old day. I am warmed by the loving and thoughtful contact of family and friends, but this is juxtaposed by continuing to be appalled by the news of how hard some of our society are having to work, and repeatedly be exposed to the danger of the virus. On the day when we heard that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had recovered sufficiently to be released from hospital, others have not been so lucky. 717 deaths, thus taking the total deaths to over 11,000 people; and 4,342 people are reported as infected as of 12 April 2020, taking the total so far to 88,621. The numbers are numbing. But I am aiming for faith, not fear, just now.
21: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 29
You know it’s come to something, don’t you, when you’re reduced to sorting out your pencil drawer? Well, that was me today. Lots and lots of big jobs still to tackle round the house, but it was the pencil drawer that kept me occupied. Mind-numbing activity, I suppose, so that the harsh reality of being confined to barracks doesn’t come into too sharp a focus.
Not that I am minding the confinement as such, but I’ve begun to notice how my horizons are narrowing a little more each day. We always knew that the lock-down would challenge us both physically and mentally but, as we start our fifth week of isolation, I recognise that knowing is not the same as experiencing. Self-discipline has never been my greatest strength, but I now understand the expression ‘digging deep’ and, in our household at least, we will need to do just that in the coming weeks.
Nonetheless, it’s been a good day today. In addition to sorting pencils, I have been able to tidy up a few administrative loose ends, which is always very satisfying. We also managed to contact the doctor first thing this morning for a telephone appointment to discuss the situation regarding John’s chest. The consultation resulted in a prescription for antibiotics, which were kindly delivered to our door by Julie from Balsall Pharmacy. Hopefully the ol’ man will be on the mend very soon.
Despite the fact that he can’t breathe, John did a bit more of a tidy-up down at the ‘man-shed’ and then insisted on getting the lawnmower going and mowed as much of the lawn as he could manage. So, the garden’s looking good and the plants that I transplanted the other day seem to be relatively happy in their new homes. And here, I thought you might like to see a pic or two of the ‘man shed’?
(Editors note: we cannot easily post all these pictures on the church website due to technical restrictions - apologies. Contact the author for a personal viewing!)
The ‘Man Shed’ before
The ‘Man Shed’ after
Mum, bless her, did a lot of sitting about as usual, with her standard television diet of Tenable, Tipping Point and The Chase this afternoon, but she did have a wander about after tea to aid her digestion, and made the effort to look out down Station Road at the crisp, pale blue sky and the setting sun. She even took the initiative this evening and took herself off to bed. That was a first since she came to live with us.
I am not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I am hoping that the news will be better than it was today. The death toll from COVID-19 is still very high, with 778 people having lost their lives, and we can no longer tell ourselves that these deaths are the aged and vulnerable; they are across all ages and even among apparently healthy people. 5,252 people are reported as being infected with the virus, which is an increase on previous daily figures, and the Government has now raised the risk to the UK as high. We knew it was probably going to come this, but we surely didn’t want to experience it; and the experiences of those on the front line right now is just horrific, and they are already exhausted. May God bless them and keep them.
22: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 30
The bees were a-buzzing, the hover flies were a-hovering, the birds were a-tweeting and it was a great day for gardening. Suddenly, the sound of the bees humming contentedly as they nestle their heads into the flowers seems to be loud! So, too, is the trilling of the birds. And I don’t recall seeing so many hover flies darting this way and that in the garden before. I’m noticing things because I’m not rushing about and, for the most part, the things I am noticing are starting to feed my soul.
Talking of feeding…. is anyone else getting as fat as flawn since the lock-down started? My waistline is now ever expanding – mostly due to imbibing red wine and eating chocolate, things I normally do when I am holiday. My brain clearly thinks I am on holiday. I think I need to have a serious word with myself.
Anyway, the day started well, was good in the middle and ended well. For starters, hubby brought me breakfast in bed! How good is that? He’d cooked banana pancakes, smothered them with berries, pecan nuts and a little maple syrup, and I feasted, and felt, like a Queen.
John, feeling up to it as his chest felt a bit better, ventured out into the garden as it was such a glorious day. I, too, wandered out and we both set to, each to our own allotted tasks. John has been creating a good edge to the rockery – the aim being to prevent the infiltration of those wispy bits of grass that are difficult to weed out. It looks very smart so far; fingers crossed it works! I was keen to weed the bed beyond the plum tree – the bit that was formerly known as the flower garden/formerly the herb garden/formerly the vegetable plot – now it’s just a weed garden with a few flowers struggling to beat their way out.
Truth to tell, I have neglected the garden for the last couple of years, what with one thing and another, so this bed has not been well-tended at all and is very much over-run with lemon balm. Not only that, the soil is bursting out over onto the path, so we decided we’re going to hem it in with some hefty pieces of wood. Got the wood – just need to heft it into place now. Tomorrow’s job maybe?
A satisfactory afternoon’s work, followed by a more than satisfactory WhatsApp video call to Michael, Danielle and William. Eating an ice cream cornet, William chatted away to us, wandering about the garden and showing us little things that he’d found among the stones as if we were there. Heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. I miss all the family so very, very much.
Then followed a delicious evening meal (steak, yum!) before we joined up on an e-link with our Centre Stage friends, Malcolm & Caroline, Linda & Brendan and Nigel & Hazel for another quiz night and a great, remote, social evening, We had been detailed to set the quiz this week, so I found one on t’internet, and thought it would do the trick. Well, it did…..except I hadn’t noticed that it had been set 8 years ago, with several questions specific to that year ……oh, dear, the contestants didn’t do so well. Our historic, percentage score of correct answers has been over 70%. This evening it was an unfortunate 52%. I blame the Quiz Master.
Whilst all this was going on Mum got up late, breakfasted at mid-day, watched TV, declined the offer of a walk in the garden, watched more TV, ate her evening meal (not the steak – it was too tough….) watched more TV and then went to bed. But she quietly enjoyed herself.
We did watch the news together though, and she continues to be shocked, as we do, at the volumes of people infected and dying as they are revealed at the daily government briefing. She is astounded in fact and can hardly imagine what it must be like ‘out there’. Today a slight glimmer of hope as the figures plateaued with 4,605 people infected and 761 deaths yesterday. The numbers remain simply those reported from hospital admissions, however, with the true figures clearly much higher as people are infected in the community and many elderly people are dying in care homes.
But the biggest story of the day has to be Captain Tom Moore. A 99-year old war veteran, walking ‘laps’ in his garden to raise funds for the NHS. His aim? To raise £1,000. His achievement so far? Over £10 million!! It’s just uplifting, isn’t it?? ((Ed: now over £18million as of 17.4.2020 and £30Mn 1/5/20))
23: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 33
Saturday, 18 April 2020. The rain is falling, livening up the gardens. The plants are standing taller and look excited to be drinking in the fresh rainwater. It’s a beautiful sight. How did I never notice this before? Too busy, of course. As I watched the rain, I was reminded of that lilting poem ‘Leisure’ by William Davies, so well-known, so poignant, so apt. Now is the time to stand and stare……..so I did and appreciated Beauty’s glance:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Down to earth and on a different plain, I found myself ‘shopping washing’, ‘letter washing’ and ‘parcel washing’ yet again. Malcolm brought our groceries (thank you) round, so they got the great ‘rub over’; the postman brought letters and DPD brought a parcel that got the same treatment.
We opened the letter addressed to Grandma and Grandpa. Oooh, what was going to be inside? A home-made Easter card from William, how thrilling! With his footprints representing a bunny and carrots, it’s one to treasure.
What about the parcel then? We didn’t think we were expecting anything, but thrill of thrills, it was the steering wheel! John could hardly wait to try it in the car, only to find, disappointingly, that it didn’t fit. Oh, cruel fate!! Back to the drawing board.
Moving on from washing anything that arrives on our doorstep, I put my heart and soul into vacuuming round, but was delightfully interrupted three times. Firstly, a little video of Freddie, beating up a poor piece of kinetic sand, which had no answer for him. Oh, I do love him – he’s such a card! Then the doorbell rang, and Livia was standing there, smiling and offering us her traditional Romanian Easter cheesecake. What an unexpected and thoughtful surprise. It was delicious and polished off pretty quickly, I can tell you! And finally, a bittersweet conversation with the Sutton Sleaths; William was under the weather and needed medical attention at Heartlands Hospital. Always a worry when you hear such news, but he was an amazingly brave boy and soon home with antibiotics. Phew! Fingers crossed they work quickly.
As the day wore on, my thoughts turned to entertainment. What would we do for distraction today? Watch Phantom of the Opera on YouTube? Oh, go on then. Highly recommended by dear Anita, I thought I’d give it a go. Mum and John slept through it. I watched and enjoyed the brilliant singing and character portrayals throughout, but I am always uncomfortable with the subject matter, and this time was no different. I have promised myself that I’m not going to watch it again, no matter how stunning the production is – all that bribery, cold-blooded, calculated murder and abduction is too distressing.
Which brings me to the distressing news that a dear man I knew from church, the artist, Trevor Boult, died this week. I am grateful to own some of his originals and prints to remember him by and I wish him God speed. Praying for all his family too.
The cause of death wasn’t COVID-19, I understand, unlike the 888 people who died in hospital from it yesterday and the 5,526 people who were infectees. The figures in relation to Coronavirus still don’t make for great reading and it’s all still a very big worry for our society. Take care everyone. Let’s not get slapdash, let’s nurture our precious lives and make what we can of them
24: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 34
My early starts have been getting later and later. To the point that I almost don’t even know what an early start is any more. The alarm goes off, and I snooze it – several times. Do I really want to get up and do another chore? No, I’ll just snuggle under the duvet for a bit longer. But this morning was different. A family ‘Zoom’ session was planned. Not very early at 9.30, but it meant I had to be ‘compos mentis‘ a good hour sooner than normal, with a cup of tea in hand at 8.30.
We were delighted to see everyone who could make it, webcam-to-webcam. The children, wriggling all over the place with parents un-handing them and peeling them off the various bits of equipment, were the entertainment. It was a good catch-up though and went on longer than the half an hour originally planned. Next time, though, maybe a ‘Zoom’ session without the children, no matter how entertaining they are to the grandparents? The parents were exhausted by the end of it, I think!!
I know it’s Sunday, but it didn’t feel very Sunday-like today and, for the first time during the lock down, I didn’t want to ‘go to church’ and I forgot to light my ‘Candle of Hope’ this evening. The online service all looked interesting, and I knew prayers needed to be said, but no, not today. So instead, what did I do? Chores!! The ironing pile beckoned so I waded my way through it, with thoughts of ‘Philomena, (my home help) where are you when I need you???’
While I did the ironing, John did the baking. He’s such a whizz at preparing his own special recipes now: bread, fruit cake, banana bread, and chocolate sundaes. And now he’s stocked up for the week ahead. I think he’s even enjoying it – well, he’s certainly singing and humming a lot to himself anyway!
In amongst the flat lining of the hours that stretch before us, unexpected things happen though, don’t they? We had no expectation of a parcel or visitor at the door today so, when the doorbell rang, I was startled. I flew to the front door to see who was there, only to find no-one. In front of me though, was a little bag, a note and a hand-painted rainbow. Who would be leaving us a mystery parcel, I wondered?
In the little bag, were a good half-dozen freshly baked, home-made fruit scones and half a dozen pieces of flapjack. Scrumdiddlyumptious or what??
Well, Mum was pleased and as proud as punch that the Kershaw girls remembered her and her poetry readings, as you can imagine. I was thrilled that they had taken the time to bake and call and deliver such a delightful surprise and we were able to have a little ‘Contact the Elderly’ tea party after all! (I didn’t have any clotted cream either though….)
I hope the girls will be pleased to know that I put the hand-painted rainbow in our front window and they will see it if they pass by.
And so passes another day of highlights and low-lights, the latter being all of us in a bit of low mood today, if I’m honest, with the expanse of ‘we-don’t-know-where-it-will-all-end’ ahead of us and John shaking his head and saying ‘I don’t get it…’ to a variety of things that do or don’t happen.
But still, I am counting my blessings – we heard from Kelv via the blog which cheered us up; we chatted to the kids; we had blessings from the community, and we have food and warmth and each other here in our lovely home.
Prayers for all those in distress today, from whatever the source, but especially those who have been touched by the virus – all 5,850 infected, of whom over 10% (596) have died, some in the prime of their lives – and all their families. God bless them all.
25: No longer leukaemia……but isolation, Day 35
Just as yesterday didn’t feel Sunday-like, today didn’t feel Monday-like, either. None of that dread of work or challenging tasks to do, for us!! We can swan about within our own four walls (or within the garden hedge confines) and do as we please.
And, as there was no Freddie visit today – which, of course, hasn’t happened for weeks – there were no plans to entertain him or be entertained by him. No Paw Patrol or Mister Maker; no making cakes or kaleidoscopes; no climbing the imaginary mountain into the loft with a little picnic, or creating a den magically lit full of little candles; no hugs and no kisses. The sandpit, newly filled in readiness for Spring fun, stays closed; the paddling pool waits to be filled and paddled in and the little ‘forest’ at the bottom of the garden is devoid of a high-pitched, chattering little voice.
No, no responsibility for a little one today….. nor next week, or the week after that, or for the foreseeable…….. and the swanning about, the doing as we please, doesn’t have the same thrill to it that it might normally have.
The lock down gets no easier just because we are four weeks in. I am not used to it; and I have not yet shaken off the sense of bereavement. Our lives used to be so full of the family coming and going, Sunday lunches, staying over, leaving the children with us, leaving the dogs with us, or us going to stay at theirs, to look after the grandchildren while the adults were away. None of that now, and it’s taking some getting used to.
But we busy ourselves, nonetheless. For a start, there’s Mum to look after. Generally, she’s quite well-behaved, and she’s funny sometimes as her memory plays tricks on her – and us! “Would you like a cup of tea, Mum?” “No, thank you, I think I’ll pass on that just now.” A Nano-second later: “Did you make me a cup of tea?” “Erm…no? You said you’d pass?” Then the inevitable: “Did I?” And we fall about laughing.
Not always though, as old habits die hard and emerge to a little irritation. Sometimes we find it’s hard to forgive a transgression that may actually be due to her age, but we recognise it as a ‘Hazel-ism’. “Will you set the table for tea, Mum?” “No, I’m too tired. I’ve done a lot of walking today.” I think the walking involved going to the front door and back. And perhaps into the kitchen and back. Ah, well. And then I remember, she wasn’t nicknamed ‘The Queen’ all those years ago for nothing!!!
In other news, our ‘busyness’ saw John clearing out the left-over paints, fence staining stuff and plumbing equipment from the garage. He decided to give them away and put them out on the front drive with a note, ‘Free – Support Your Local Hoarder‘. Delighted, we saw that within hours the laden table was nearly empty as the local population helped themselves. We do hope their choices have come in handy for them.
We did more outside work today, too, with John jeopardising his back by climbing onto the ‘Man Shed’ roof and fitting more soffits and fascias, and me transplanting more pot plants into the (now) flowerbed at the bottom of the garden and hefting the hefty pieces of wood into place in the bed beyond the plum tree.
On a more leisurely note, I took myself outside this evening at about ten o’clock to gaze at the star-studded sky and watch the satellite whizz by. Such an exhilarating sight, yet soothing at the same time, and a reminder of the speck I am in the universe. Let’s not sweat the small stuff, eh?
Sweating the big stuff are still all those front-line workers, especially those in hospitals and care homes looking after the Coronavirus-infected and the dying people. In hospitals, 4,676 people were counted as infected yesterday and 449 people died. Fewer than previously, but still an enormous number, and an enormous number of families affected. We may be specks in the universe, but we are the whole in someone’s life just now and we must keep our nerve in staying put to avoid the infection spreading and perhaps spiking again. Let’s hold tight to get it right.
26: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 36
I absolutely savoured the night sky tonight. I ventured out, as I did yesterday, into the darkness, but this time, wrapped in the cosiest blanket, my coat and winter boots, to take my time and just be in the garden and the gloom. It was an enhancing experience. Nothing new, nothing unusual, nothing unexpected, but somehow it filled my heart and soul.
The funny thing is, of course, there is no real darkness here where we live. The street light just crowds into the garden, elbowing its way in, so that all you have is a small bowl of stars up above and a halo of light encircling it from the streets all around.
Nevertheless, I chose to stroll down to the bottom of the garden, Monkey Shoulder in hand, to the inherited bench that used to be Mum and Dad’s – and just sat. No expectations, having arrived there too late to see anything but the blackish-blue sky and tiny torches twinkling through. I had been hoping for shooting stars, but either I was too early or too late. But I did see the satellite as it whizzed past the Plough, and I amazed at man’s ingenuity as it went on its way. A dog barked, the wind blew, the chimes chimed, a motorcycle and a car vroomed by and, for a moment or two, I was content.
That is not to say, of course, that the rest of the day brought unrest! Au contraire, mon brave! Generally speaking, it was a good day, with jobs done and easy relationships on the menu.
With a breakfast of pancakes, berries and yoghurt over, it was time to inspect the garden before fixing the ‘feet’ I’d painted to the bottom of the fireplace in the kitchen. John came to my rescue and did the gluing and fixing while I watched on. It’s looking good.
Then on to winkling Mum out for a walk in the garden. She’s always reluctant. It’s beautiful day, with sunshine and everything, but she looks out with trepidation every time. I wrapped her up in her coat and a scarf over her head to ward off the pesky wind, and out we went. Once out there, she thought it was wonderful. The wind wasn’t too bothersome after all, and the sun was so warm. What a pleasure …..oooh, and look at that butterfly!!
It’s always unexpected when the doorbell rings these days, but today, not so. We had had a text message: ‘On way with skip’. Great excitement in the household as we gathered together all sorts of junk to be skipped – whooopee! Well, to be fair… it was John who did the gathering and skipping……
Other than that, we all flopped in front of day-time TV this afternoon; John lamented his painful back and the fact that we weren’t taking advantage of the sunshine; Mum snoozed; and I pretended I was a 16-year old and lightened my hair. Food, then more flopping in front of evening TV…..
So let’s spare a thought for those who can’t flop in front of the TV today, for whatever reason. So many, many people who don’t have that luxury. Especially, of course, those hit by the virus: 4,301 infected, but…. what the (???)….. 823 died yesterday. No complacency and no platitudes please. It’s not over, folks. God bless everyone, whatever you are going through today.
27: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 37
I can resist anything except temptation, it seems. It’s early morning – time to get up. It’s too tempting to stay abed, so I do. It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m peckish. An apple? Nah…..chocolate’s the thing. The evening gently slides in and overtakes the afternoon, and Quiz Night is thirsty work. Water? Tea? Coffee? Hmmm……..I don’t think so, thank you very much, it’s a Black Velvet cocktail for me. Delicious, but alcoholic – again!! Note to self: resist, resist, resist. Maybe tomorrow?
I know I am a soppy old soul, but really, Wednesday Quiz Nights are such a boost. Not only am I connecting with dear friends, but we’re having a proper giggle and some challenges to our grey matter. Who knew, for example, that the stage name of Paul David Hewson was Bono? Well, I expect you all did (and I know someone who definitely will) but we didn’t, and just groaned and then hooted with laughter when we found out!!
Quiz night is one highlight of the week. But daily highlights are the pleasure of chatting to our sons, in different e-formats, catching up with their differing philosophies of life. All heart-warming and thought-provoking – and strong. How did that happen, I wonder, that we are no longer the leaders? They lead, and we follow now; as it should be, I suppose, as age creeps up on us. Pleased and sad about that.
Old age looks like it’s beckoning, but we’re absolutely not ready for giving up on stuff, so we fight on. Unlike Mum, who seems to have abandoned all challenges, including the everyday ones like making a cup of tea, even. She smiles at me, weakly, and says, “Well, at my age….” and leaves the sentence hanging. So, I thought I’d better check with the doctor whether anything needed to be done just now. What are the symptoms? Staying in bed until lunchtime. Eating, then sleeping again. Teatime: eating, then sleeping again. Bedtime: drinking, then sleeping again. Oh….. that’s just lock down syndrome!!!
Actually, that’s not what the doctor said, but I thought it!! On a telephone consultation, the doctor was incredibly good and very patient; listened well and considered the management of Mum’s sleepiness carefully, before saying, ‘let’s do nothing now……let’s wait until lock down is over…..’. Ah, well.
But you know, it seems to me that lock down generates all sorts of feelings that, under normal circumstances, you’d brush off or deal with. I was galled, for example, to hear her say to the doctor that she was bored. Well, we can’t have that, can we?? First activity: a walk in the garden in the glorious sunshine. And today (we had to smile) she was like the Princess and the Pea, with the sun in her eyes at every stop we made…..I wonder which fairy tale will be next??? Watch this space!
Other than the ‘Mum-filled space’, we have managed very well today. John and I sat for a while, companionably watching the second series of ‘Save Me’. Then John was in his element spending a happy hour or two fiddling with his ‘project’, before filling the skip and trundling wheelbarrows full of ‘stuff’ from the bottom of the garden to the top, and onto the drive; and back again.
We are lucky to be able to enjoy the day – even with its frustrations – but we watched the news too and found ourselves still touched by the stories we heard and saw. Naturally, the most affecting stories are of those who have been infected by the virus and those who have died, and the effect on their families. God bless them all – every single one of the 4,451+ people who are fighting the infection and the families of the 759+ who have died. And God bless you all as you work through the daily restrictions we currently have in place.
28: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 38
First of all, I’d like to wish my sister-in-law, Gail, a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! All the way over there in OZ, we aren’t able to get to see Graham and Gail for real now and celebrate with them, but we always manage to touch base on high days and holidays if nothing else! Hope you have a great day, Gail.
For me, though, it’s been a funny old day, today. Got up at a reasonable time but couldn’t get going. Looked out on the inviting day outside and then chose to do all the indoor jobs instead. Weird. John, bless him, kept trying to encourage me out. “Come on, it’s such a lovely day out there.” I know, but…..I just want to get some of the jobs on my list ticked off. “You want to be outside in the garden today.” I know, I know, but things are whittling away at me and I want to do them. “OK, I’ll leave you alone.” Thank you.
The jobs I wanted to do were very exciting things like order paint online, sort out a couple of bank accounts, and polish the kitchen cupboards in an attempt to make the kitchen look like it’s nearly finished. And in between, of course, there was cooking and tidying and looking after Mum, so the jobs seemed to take forever, and polishing the kitchen cupboards will now continue into tomorrow.
Best bits of the day are checking in with friends and family and today was no exception. Envy reared its ugly head though on two counts: firstly, Freddie treated us to a nice, rational conversation and told us he was excited to be going on a bike ride with Daddy. I’d have loved to have gone with them but a) my bike is in Cambridge and b) oh, we’re in isolation. And secondly, William had a new paddling pool in his back yard, in the full sunshine, full of dinosaurs and slides and rings and balls to throw. Oooh, it did look good, and I’d have liked to have been in there with him – although to be fair, there might not have been quite enough room for an adult, but I’d have had a go!!
Then this evening, a short and sweet catch-up and trial run on Zoom with the ‘Ragdale Six’. After halting chats on WhatsApp and by email it was lovely to see my friends with smiling faces. Although, because it was the first time we had done a communication this way, there were a lot of anxious faces initially – not least because we couldn’t zoom in on Sue D (see what I did there?) and she was frozen out for a while. I felt a bit short-changed though, I must say, because we all wanted to ‘Clap for the NHS’ at 8 o’clock and so we’d barely done the rounds of, ‘Everyone alright at your house?’ before it was time to go.
The rest of the household i.e. John, Mum and the cats, mostly had a good day. John did more pottering (and hobbling) about, tidying bits and bobs to put out on the front for free, but he had a disappointing moment when he found that the plastic bits he’d sent for to finalise the ‘man-shed’, didn’t fit. Darn it, they’d sent the wrong ones. Ah, well, probably a good thing he wasn’t climbing on the shed again, given that his hip is giving him jip.
Mum managed a toddle in garden again today, enjoying the recently mown lawn and exclaiming at plants that her father used to grow, bringing back lovely memories for her. We picked a posy of flowers, just before we came back in before tea, to bring Spring into the house for her to look at when she can’t, or doesn’t want to, go out. Fresh flowers always cheer you up, don’t they? And the cats? I think they slept most of the day……
So, it being Thursday, we clapped our hearts out for the NHS this evening, and I think we were all thinking of not just those in the NHS, but of every single person in service industries who are looking after us and making sure that society does still function – and it made us clap even harder. Then, as always, a funny joke from John to those who were near enough to hear, before a wave goodbye to the neighbours up and down the road.
Despite all the doctors’ and nurses’ efforts of course, people are still getting sick and still dying. 4,583 people infected yesterday and 616 dead. But the first trial started today for a vaccine. Brave human guinea pigs trying it out. Fingers crossed it is effective, there’s no going back to the drawing board and no adverse effects on those taking part in the trial – please God.
Take care everyone – look after yourselves and your loved ones. Let’s make the most of what we’ve got now lest it change tomorrow.
29: No longer leukaemia…. but isolation, Day 39
At 94 years old (I suppose she’s allowed) Mum feels the cold. John and I had a great moment sitting in the warmth of the sunshine in the garden this afternoon, so I suggested I collect Mum to join us. She was cosy, watching ‘The Chase’ when I went in, and she definitely wasn’t keen to go outside. Literally whining as I winkled her out of the chair, which sort of tickled me, but, ‘Come on, Mum, you’ll enjoy it!’
Anticipating that she’d need cushions (I took two) and she might feel a draft for any (non-existent) breeze, I also took a blanket with us. We installed her in a nice, comfy chair and, for a moment, it was all lovely, then there was a little gust of wind and she shivered, “Oooh, it’s cold, isn’t it?”, so I wrapped her in the blanket before sending a picture of her to the family, to which Paul said she was like ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.
I popped back into the house after a while and glanced at the thermometer. Indoors: 22.9 degrees (don’t judge us). Outdoors: 23.7 degrees. The figures don’t mean anything to Mum, of course. We were roasting outside, but she felt cold and thought she’d be better off indoors, despite us telling her it was warmer outside. In the end, she did stay a while and drank a sherry as an aperitif before we escorted her into the lounge again. But it has made me think about how we view our physical and mental selves. If only we could put ourselves in others’ shoes, eh?
Anyway, in line with Jasper Carrot’s ‘watching wood warp’ scenario, and episode two of the cupboard cleaning story – I didn’t, regrettably, finish cleaning the darned things! The pesky cupboards are a lot more complicated than you imagine. And not only that, I managed to pull the front of one of them off, so spent a good 45 minutes trying to get the thing back on again. Had to get screwdrivers, pliers, hammers and the glue gun out to sort it out. Didn’t want to ask John to help, as he was struggling with his own pesky stuff on his ‘project’ in the garage……
As it turned out, the steering wheel he sent for and which subsequently arrived, should have fitted. What went wrong then? Well, it was the mole wrench wot done it! The grip of the mole wrench had flattened out the splines on the steering column of the car, so it struggled to accommodate the boss kit. 48 hours after the thrill of the steering wheel arriving, another parcel arrived containing needle files which enabled John to clean up the damaged splines, and…… ta-dah! The steering wheel is on!! (Well, more or less).
Knowing that John was having a fiddle with the car, Bryan dropped by to have a look at a safe distance. It was lovely to see him, and we didn’t have to shout too loud to make ourselves heard. Equally, I didn’t have to shout too loud when Sue C and David walked past the front of the house this evening on their way to deliver Sue’s hand-made scrubs. Again, so lovely to see them – and I celebrated internally, two points of ‘other-than-home’ human contact in one day. Nice.
Being outside in the warmth and beautiful sunshine, relaxing and chatting makes one think that you’re on holiday though doesn’t it? And, inevitably, a glass of something? Well, it would be rude not to. So I did – I opened a nice bottle of Prosecco and then, of course, chocolate followed…. oh, dear, oh, dear…..I shall cartainly waddle out of the door after lock down finishes!
Which, of course, is more than the 684 people who have died will be able to do, having succumbed to the virus. But here’s praying that every single one of the 5,386 people recorded as infected yesterday will recover and enjoy their favourite tipple in their garden or the pub soon. God bless.
30: No longer leukaemia…… but isolation, Day 40 Last year, the weather was good too….
As I’ve mentioned before, we couldn’t do our annual egg-rolling contest at Easter this year. However, because the loss of the contest was much lamented, Michael sent us this photo to remind us of what some of the family were doing more or less this time last year. We all look so happy, don’t we? And wow! the weather was good then too……..aaahhhh, lovely memories – especially as we finished off the event with an ice cream each!!
This year, we did ‘virtual’ egg-rolling of course, and find ourselves doing virtually everything ‘virtually’ nowadays! Play scrabble with friends and family? Yes please! But using an app. Spend an evening in with friends? Yes please! But on Skype. Chat to the family? Yes, please! But on a WhatsApp group. Go to church? Yes, please! But via the church website. Take Jaime’s yoga class? Yes, please! But via Youtube.
So, it was a thrill and delight to see first-born, Paul, in person this afternoon. He called on his way back from shopping, to collect a parcel I had sent for, for Lily. He stood in the middle of the back lawn, and we sat up on the patio for a few minutes’ chat. It was a gem of a moment, for which I was extremely grateful. He departed, without the much longed-for hug, but his gesture of love as he left – the donation of a bottle of one of my favourite wines, a Pouilly Fumé – just had me. Marvellous, aren’t they, your kids?
The opportunity to sit out in the garden, of course, was due to the glorious weather again, and even Mum ventured out to sit awhile and chat to Paul. This time, no coat needed, cushions nor blanket – she was content just to sit and enjoy chatting, and then, when Paul left, to watch John and me potter about in the garden.
One of today’s projects: stop the pond from leaking. An ongoing saga really, but suffice to say, there’s a mystery. We have no idea what is happening to the water, which is disappearing every time we switch the pump on for the waterfall. The poor fish have been waterfall-less for nearly a year. However, John used his substantial talent for ingenuity, fitted a piece of copper pipe to the pump outlet and aimed the water down a broken plant pot, avoiding (what might be) the porous stones. That’ll do it, we both thought! Well, it might have done – we’ll know when we double-check in the morning. But I already have my doubts….. I think the water level might be going down even now…..
But back to another ongoing saga – that of kitchen cupboard cleaning. It is still not finished. I think I am about half-way round and cursing the fiddly bits. Conscientious to the last, I am not only cleaning, but beeswax polishing too. I wonder if that’s what’s taking the time? Anyway, en route, as it were, in my travels from cupboard to cupboard, I came upon the bread bin. It looked a bit sad and sorry for itself, so I thought I’d give it a bit of a polish. Perhaps I rubbed too hard, but the bloomin’ thing collapsed into several pieces on me! Another day when all the tools came out and another forty-five minutes of fighting with it to get it back together again!! It’s no wonder I’m not getting the cupboards finished, is it? What, I wonder, will fall apart tomorrow? Just hope it’s not me!!!
Sanity, though, has been much restored by a great evening chatting on Skype with Pete and Dawn. So lovely to see them and chew the cud. They always bring a different perspective to life’s little difficulties for which I am always grateful. There was much up-and-downing though, just before we said goodbye, as several of the party were keen to catch a glimpse of Elon Musk’s Starlinks satellites skooting across the sky. We weren’t successful our end, but then, we did give up pretty quickly, as it was too darned cold to be outside long. Especially as John is still coughing well….
Looking up to the heavens, my soul always amazes at enormity of the universe and how tiny we are. And yet, despite our tininess, we loom large in each others’ lives every day. And so, with sadness, my heart goes out to all those families whose loved ones, who loomed large in their lives, are sick or are dying or have died. And yesterday, we lost 813 people to COVID-19, taking the death toll over 20,000, and nearly 5,000 people were infected. It’s still far too many and I am just praying and hoping that the figures will start to reduce soon. The heartache is too great.
31: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 41
Fed up with the intensive labour of love on cleaning my kitchen cupboards, I brought in the ‘big guns’ today. Out went the bottle of Flash and in came
sugar soap. Out went the beeswax polish and (although risking an asthma attack), in came a propellant-filled can of Mr Pledge. Both did the trick and I got to the end of kitchen cupboard cleaning fairly quickly. Hurrah!! It took me all day on and off, but it’s done. (Does a little hop and a skip around the kitchen).
It’s not only the kitchen that’s keeping us busy of course with the pond still posing problems. We could see a leak in the pipe by the pump, so John added a bit of guttering to catch the drips. In doing so, he shifted the stylish broken plant pot, which meant that water was now pouring, initially unnoticed, all over the patio. I tried to rectify the position of the plant pot, but to no avail, and so I am expecting a half-empty pond tomorrow morning……..perhaps I should go and switch the pump off now?
In addition to trying to finalise the refurbishment of the kitchen and sort out the pond, there’s a lot of skip-filling happening. John is always in his element when he’s having a clear-out, and today was no exception. Bad back or no, he was determined to clear the side of the house. Large sheets of glass were hauled across the drive and heaved up into the skip. Every intended attempt at smashing the darned things went begging, then one of them self-combusted on being loaded into the skip, and another succumbed as John threw a lump of concrete in. It was like ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ as a shower of glass flew into the air and sparkled all over the drive. Fortunately, it was safety glass, so no-one was hurt, but there
was a lot of sweeping up……
Mum did her ‘what-is-now-usual’ thing of lying in bed until all hours then dithering as to whether to have breakfast or lunch because it’s mid-day -“Oh, my goodness, is that the
time?” – by the time she’s downstairs. Had to chuckle this morning, though. I met her coming out of her room at about a quarter to ten. “Morning, Mum!” I said, very brightly. “Morning!” she responded equally brightly, and then pottered off to the bathroom. About half an hour later, she hadn’t come downstairs, so I thought I’d better check on her. She had only put herself back to bed and was snoozing very nicely, thank you!!
The trouble is, a late start means she doesn’t want to go to bed at night. We start the process at 10.30 but it’s always gone midnight by the time she’s actually in bed. Ah, well….I suppose it’s not as if we have any pressing engagements to worry about!
Being Sunday though, I had risen a bit earlier today to ‘go to church’ at 9.30. The service is published on the web and you can access it any time really, but I like to join in at the regular time, knowing that friends are alongside me worshipping at the same moment. Lovely reading by Margaret today, and prayers led by Mark and Moira. I thought Peter’s sermon was spot on, too.
Equally, I lit my Candle of Hope at 7 o’clock this evening, knowing that there would be candles burning all over the country as a symbol of togetherness during this time of separateness. A symbol to remind us all not to give up, but to keep on keeping on. And with the lighting of the candle, a prayer for all those who are sick with COVID-19 (4,463 hospital cases as of yesterday) or who have died as a result of the infection (413). Peace be with you.
32: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 42
You could have knocked me down with a feather this morning. My phone rang and, when I answered it, it was my brother, Graham, phoning from Oz. It is rarely he who phones us, (normally leaving the communication side of things to Gail) so momentarily, I wavered between the thrill of hearing his voice and then anxiety that he might be imparting some unwelcome news. It turned out that the former emotion was the one to hold on to.
He had celebrated his 70th birthday in February, at which time I’d arranged for special bottles of wine to be delivered from Mum, and they had finally arrived. He was phoning to thank Mum very much. Well, she was delighted to talk to him as you can imagine, and it bucked her up so much so, that when she got dressed later, she also put on her make-up and she looked like a proper bobby-dazzler for the rest of the day.
After the phone call, I went to inspect the pond and, having left the pump on overnight, I saw that the water level had fallen by about four inches. So, we know that the bloomin’ thing is still leaking, much to our dismay (and probably the neighbour’s too, as her house floats down the street). Not yet tried to fix it though, as John’s still coughing well, and his hip is still giving him jip. Relying on John’s brilliant expertise, as usual, as it’s all a mystery to me and I have no idea where to start to mend it.
Talking of things all broken, for
the third day in a row another item in the kitchen fell apart. This time it was the dishwasher front. It just came orf in me ‘and, guv!! And, funnily enough, the dishwasher doesn’t work without a front on it. Not tried to mend that yet either. And I do hate washing up……
But, oddly, despite things not quite going according to how I’d like them, I felt less pressured today. The reason? Well, the weather!! It was
to be pottering around the house today, as it wasn’t stunningly warm or sunny. The weather was great for gardening, but I didn’t feel I okay to be out there. What a topsy-turvy world I’m living in now, to be sure! had
Talking of a topsy-turvy world – yoga has been my lifesaver for many a year, as has meditation. With a fast-paced life at work, and then in more recent years, with the stresses of John’s illness, my ‘go-to’ has been yoga practice. For five years I’ve been a regular at Jaime’s BodyMind Yoga classes and there, with her guidance and wisdom, I have built up strength and resilience. But now we’re in lock down, bizarrely, I am not using my ‘go-to’ saviour as much as I thought I would! How mad is that? Jaime is posting great classes online, but apart from the odd stretch or two, I’m finding I can’t quite concentrate….. and my muscles have now gone to mush. I am sure I need to get back to it, folks – more planks and downward dogs – but will I? Lock down is messing with my head! And clearly my body! Anyone else?
The other thing that is messing with my head is
the news. Honestly, at different moments, I am either numbed by the repetition of it all; or elated by the stories of heroic deeds and people; or appalled by the stupidity of some people; or disgusted at the cruelty of others. This roller coaster of emotions every day is just exhausting! I am beginning to see the merits of the back-to-back TV programmes we have on for Mum like Tenable, Tipping Point and the Chase…..
But I do watch the news anyway – and find today’s editions only a little lighter in tone than yesterday’s (although I’m not sure I am keen on the ‘fighting talk’ offered by Boris now he’s back). However, Malcolm reminded me that the figures of the infectees I am picking off the government stats page are those who’ve been
tested not hospitalised – he’s right, of course, and I apologise for misleading anyone…… so, as of yesterday there were 4,310 people who were tested as positive for COVID-19, and there were 360 COVID-19 associated deaths in hospitals.
There is a glimmer of hope in the figures, but that’s still an awful lot of people affected by the virus with family members anxious or grieving. Particularly poignant was a tweet yesterday on Twitter by a man just released from hospital, telling us he’d been grateful for all the medics’ care and that he’d thought, for a while there, that ‘he was a goner’. Today, his friend tweeted that he had, in fact, then died at home, overnight. Shocking. My heart goes out to his family and friends and
everyone who’s experiencing such trauma just now. Peace be with you all. 33: No longer leukaemia….. but isolation, Day 43
So, Superman to the rescue!! And, just like that, the dishwasher is fixed! Hurrah! Hurrah! I am extremely relieved that I don’t have to be doing the washing up by hand. Thank you, John. Mwah!
Also relieved that there was rain again today. The plants in the garden so needed a drink and it was another day when the pressure was off, and no need to tidy things up outside. Not that I did much tidying inside today either as it was a busy day in one way or another.
Firstly, ‘The Breakfast Club’ got together for the first time since lock down, for a chat on Zoom this morning. It was so lovely to see smiling faces and, of course, catch up on everyone’s news. Even Mum zoomed into view temporarily and waved at everyone to say hello. Everyone’s story is different during lock down of course, so it was good to hear the positives, and sympathise with those who are experiencing the negatives. It was an hour well spent and I came away from the chat nicely uplifted.
Then the morning moved on with a chat to the doctor about John’s chest, and we were reassured that the antibiotics he’s got ought to do the trick – fingers crossed – or else……. and then, still on medical matters, I was just about to phone the pharmacy to check that they were sorting Mum’s drugs out when they were delivered to the door. How grateful I feel for those who are looking after us.
A little flurry of excitement followed, with Mum receiving a phone call from her friend Janet. The news wasn’t good though, as Janet disclosed that another friend, Audrey, had died on Sunday. Mum was upset but philosophical, as Audrey would have been 92 in June. Janet didn’t know the cause of death, so we wait to find out.
After lunch, I flicked through the TV channels to see what was on, initially for Mum’s entertainment, but alighted upon the film ‘Evita’ which we had never watched. Well, why not sit and watch it this afternoon? Nothing else pressing, is there? So that’s what we did. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that even after all these years it stood the test of time – good music, well-acted and particularly well directed.
Another little flurry of excitement for Mum during the film when the postman called with letters. Mum’s birthday card from Graham and Gail had finally arrived! Sent just over a week before Mum’s birthday and at the start of the lock down, it’s only taken six weeksto get here from Oz!! In normal times, of course, with a high frequency of planes to and fro from Ol’ Blighty to Oz letters often arrive within a week or so. But these are not normal times are they?
And finally, and wonderfully, we had a family quiz night, hosted by our grand-daughter Catherine. With an hour or so to go, we were informed we were to wear fancy dress. Oh, crikey!! I don’t have much in the way of fancy dress any more, but we managed to pull out a Lotus Grand Prix racing cap for John, and Arabian clothes for me – it is Ramadan, after all…..
We really enjoyed seeing everyone and doing the quiz – although I was struck by how old we are! Our recall ability is zilch, and what do we know about Michael Jackson music and the Noughties films?? Very little, it turned out!! But for a bonus question at the end worth 10 points, we would have come bottom….. eeesh…..
Lots to be thankful for today.
And the figures reported by the official government website today tell the tale of 3,996 lab-confirmed infectees, and 586 deaths as of 7.14 a.m. Dear Lord, have mercy on us.
34: No longer leukaemia….but isolation, Day 44
After my little rant the other day, which seemed to reveal that I was not quite so perky as usual, friends and family offered advice and support, for which I am very grateful. We are all dealing with the effects of social distancing and isolation differently, and it is so helpful to get others’ perspectives, isn’t it?
Every single day of our lives is uncharted territory – but normally, we have something to which we can relate our daily happenings, and we can usually draw on previous experiences to help us navigate our way through. But I am finding that there is not much in my history that relates to what is happening just now. The pandemic really is an experience that we have never had in our lifetime before.
I was pleased, therefore, to receive ‘a little list’ as one of the offerings of advice, along the lines of ‘10 helpful tips to keep you sane during the Corona Virus pandemic’. I love a little list. There’s a sense of satisfaction in being able to cross an item off, in my opinion. Sometimes, (anyone else relate to this?) I even add an item of something I have just done to a list, so that I can immediately cross it off! Job done? Yep! Breathes on finger nails and polishes them on chest……
Anyway, it’s a very good list. Nothing unexpected on it, of course, but gentle reminders to exercise, meditate, relax, learn something, use technology to connect with others, limit screen time etc.
So thanks to the ‘10 helpful tips…’ today has been another good day. I felt motivated by the gentle reminders and committed to following the whole of Jaime’s yoga class this morning, while Mum and John snoozed on (John, attempting to repair his wheezy chest, and Mum, just because she’s old, I think). The commitment was there and I did follow the whole of the class, but it took a little longer than the hour I’d planned…..
I sat on my mat, cross-legged, ready to start. The doorbell rang. Pause the video. Belt downstairs. Oh, how lovely!! It’s Jack, delivering Mum’s What’s On TV. Hunted round for money to pay him. Stood and had a nice, long-distance chat – garden gate to front door shouty chat. Run back upstairs, re-start the video, sit cross-legged, follow the instructions for about ten minutes…..the doorbell rang. Pause the video. Belt downstairs. Oh, good! Prescription delivery – that’s a relief. Grateful wave to the delivery driver (whose name I don’t know but would love to find out). Run back upstairs. Re-start the video, lay on the mat, wave legs in the air, trying to re-build a now defunct core…….the doorbell rang. Leap up. Pause the video. Belt downstairs. Oh, wonderful! A food parcel! Grateful grin to delivery driver. Trundle into kitchen. Wash the food. Run back upstairs. Re-start the video. Lay back on the mat, wave legs in the air some more…….and finish the class, probably about two hours after I started.
The day so far? Exercise:✔ Meditation: ✔ Relaxation: ✔
We lunched at about 1.30, just after Mum got up. Still her dressing gown, she enjoyed her egg sandwiches and watching ‘Doctors’. And then we decided to choose a film for the afternoon again. We chose a gangster-type of film – can’t even remember what it was called, it was so bad. But it was certainly an education. Learn something? ✔
After our evening meal, we quizzed with our dear Centre Stage crew. So lovely to see them – I love their company. They make me laugh, as well as think. A great night together and we all did well on the quiz. Use technology to connect with others? ✔
A good day – one which meant I wasn’t glued to my phone. I was shocked to find that my screen time since lock down started, is upby about about five hours a day!!! No wonder I’m feeling disorientated. Constantly scrolling through social media – first Facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter – and back again – and then playing a scrabble game for hours on end, then reading the news….. it has all added up, stealthily, to an unhealthy amount of time. Gotcha! Not going to do that quite so much any more. Limit screen time? ✔(planned anyway……).
It was a good day for many others today too, I have no doubt, including Boris and his partner, who had a little boy early this morning. But obviously, not so good for all those still being affected by the virus. The daily reported government figures now include those affected in care homes, so there is an increase: 4,076 lab-confirmed cases; 765 COVID-19 associated deaths. Of course, the figures are not accurate and can’t tell the whole story, but they are a reminder of why we’re all in lock down. Stay safe everyone and God bless.
35: No longer leukaemia…. but Pseudomonas…. and isolation, Day 45
The A45 was busy, both on the way there and on the way back. In fact, coming back via the shortcut, there was a six-car queue to re-join the main carriageway. Lock down? Crikey, it seemed almost like ordinary mid-day travelling into Birmingham today. The traffic is definitely building up again – we can hear the thrum of it each day past our house now – shwoom…..shwoom….shwoom….
An essential journey? Oh, yes. Mr Wheezy Chest’s chest had got even wheezier overnight, and I decided to seek the consultant’s opinion today. Didn’t actually get through to the consultant though. Spoke to knowledgeable Sisters who know about such things and each one said, “Take him to A & E.” So, we did. His bag packed and his drugs on hand, we had a little toddle out to Heartlands.
“They might not keep me in.” he said, ever hopeful. “We’ll see.” I said.
Temperature, blood pressure, blood samples, ECG, an X-ray all taken, and a nebuliser administered; and the upshot was a move to a room without a view, on Ward 26. Intravenous antibiotics will start tomorrow.
“What did the X-ray show?” John asked the doctor, who replied, “It definitely shows an infection in your lungs. And listening to your chest, it’s all over your lungs. The sample that was tested shows it is Pseudomonas.”
We don’t know how long John will be in hospital, but suffice to say, neither of us had imagined this scenario during lock down. We were being really careful, shielding and trying to look after ourselves. But the reality is, that this little bug(ger) has been present in John’s lungs for a while, probably before we went into isolation, and it has colonised and colonised, resistant to all the antibiotics previously prescribed.
While I was making phone calls this morning, John was processing what the outcome might be. So was I. And when the inevitable, “Take him to A&E” came, neither of us much wanted to take the advice. I didn’t really want to take him, and he didn’t really want to go. But Mr & Mrs Sensible Heads arrived and off we went. I was actually well in control while I did the packing and driving, but felt all the weight of the decision when we said goodbye at the hospital entrance. Relatives are not allowed in…….
Once home, I sat in the car for a while and thought I’d phone a couple of my besties to offload a bit. Neither were available just then, but both came up trumps a little while later. As did the college crew later on this evening – cheered me up no end.
Without friends and family, who are just there when we need them, I don’t know how we’d cope. The kids: “You are making the right decision, to go to A&E.” and “Want to use my car?” when ours wouldn’t start just before we set off, and “I’ll come over???”, then dear Peter, who came and jump-started the car, so we could get going.
Mum was as good as gold while this was all happening, and she did what she always does now – watched TV and drank tea. Very British.
Meanwhile, I had other things on my mind too, today. A farewell to Trevor Boult, whose funeral took place this afternoon. Just a few able to attend, of course, due to restrictions, so I lit a candle to meditate by, followed the order of service that his family had compiled, and marvelled at his artwork which I had alongside. God rest his soul.
And, whatever your beliefs are, let’s hold everyone who is sick, or who has died in recent weeks, in our hearts; including the people who tested positive for the Coronavirus (6,032) or died of it yesterday (674).
Peace be with you – and, if it’s your inclination, please hold us in your prayers.
36: No longer leukaemia…..but Pseudomonas…. and isolation, Day 46
I am not as strong as I was. I found that out today, as I fought with the king-size mattress to ‘do the turn’ on it. It fought back – but, even though it was bigger than me, I certainly wasn’t going to let it win. So I left it to sulk for a bit while I got on with other things; I left it to think of the error of its ways and to consider co-operating with me when I went back later to have another go at ‘the turn’. The ruse worked and, as neatly as that, it slid back into place without so much as a whimper. Result.
I was glad about that because I wanted to make and tidy the bed up, in order to put a recently-delivered piece of ‘the project’ by its side, so that when John comes home, he knows exactly where it is.Now, why should this be so important? Funny you should ask that. Well, I had the very self-same piece to offer him as a Christmas gift. The piece arrived in the house and it may still be somewhere in the house. But we haven’t got a clue as to where it actually is.
We only realised that we’d lost it when John came to the point of wanting to fit it. “Where’s that headlining you gave me for Christmas?” he asked. “Dunno,” I said casually, expecting it to be in the office/car/garage or on his desk. We have hunted high and low for the darned thing but it’s never turned up…..yet. Although, now that we’ve bought a new one, we’re bound to find it in a ‘safe’ place somewhere no doubt!
Anyway, the headlining is by his side of the bed so that he can’t miss it when he gets back. No news on when he’ll be home yet though. He has been treated all day with intravenous antibiotics and nebulised antibiotics, and we hear the nebuliser will be his friend when he gets home for the foreseeable. He tells us he’s not feeling too bad, but then, of course, he’s not charging about, he’s just lying in bed, or sitting in a chair, or walking about three yards to the loo and back. Not much exertion required just now.
At tea-time, as we sat down to our meal, Mum said, “It’s strange without John, isn’t it?” I had to agree with her. The strangest thing is that I am not able to visit the ol’ man. Normally I’m pretty much glued to his side when he’s in hospital; and I usually return home to an empty house and then do pretty much as I please. Not so now, though. Strange times.
All day people have been phoning or emailing or texting, sending their love and best wishes for John’s speedy recovery, and that’s been so lovely. I have delighted in the conversations I’ve had with everyone in whichever medium and been pleased to pass on the good wishes. Most of the communication has been on my phone. And if Mum has said it once, she has said it a dozen times, “What are you doing on your phone all the time?” This new way of connecting with people is so alien to her, and her memory isn’t so good, that she just must make the comment each time. Bless her.
I did do as I pleased at lunchtime though and sat quietly for three quarters of an hour while I followed another funeral service – today it was for Melva Brown. It was a very peaceful forty-five minutes and very poignant as I followed the order of service and played the music and songs that had been chosen to remember Melva by. Particularly apt for the occasion, and also for everyone’s current situation, was the outgoing track of ‘Smile’ orchestrated by Andre Rieu and sung by Jermaine Jackson. ‘Smile…. though your heart is aching; Smile…….. even though it’s breaking……‘ etc.
“Let’s be positive and take forward the good things” my friends reminded me today, which is a great philosophy to live by – and I do think it starts with a smile; of which I’ve had lots today, courtesy of John in our video chats, the family in their crazy WhatsApp chats and friends who’ve lightened the load, with chats or errands. Thank you everyone.
And the positive news in the government briefing today, as far as the Coronavirus is concerned, is that we are ‘past the peak’. I do hope so. A further 6,201 people, according to the official figures and as at 9 o’clock this morning, are recorded as infected, and another 739 people have died.
Smile, everyone? Well, let’s do our best. Because ‘maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun come shining thro’ for you……….God bless.
37: No longer leukaemia….but Pseudomonas….. and isolation, Day 47
I quite like an early wake-up call. Especially if it’s John phoning early from the hospital for a chat, as he did yesterday. But I wasn’t prepared for this morning’s wake-up call, which was a bit of a shock. I found Mum looming over me at 7 o’clock, telling me she didn’t feel very well. This wasn’t exactly the sort of wake-up call I’d really envisaged to be honest. She had a bad tummy ache. Well, there wasn’t a lot I could do and, as there were no other symptoms, I sent her back to bed and snoozed on for a while myself, before chatting to John.
The tummy ache didn’t develop into anything more serious so, for Mum, the day passed along the lines of: snooze in the morning; drink tea; get up; drink tea; snooze after lunch; drink tea…..and so on – you get the picture. I was able to persuade her to have a little toddle in the garden though, in the warmth of the afternoon sun, which she enjoyed.
John also decided he might have a little toddle in his room today, calculating how many times round the bed he’d need to go to make up a half-marathon. However, one trip round the bed was enough to convince him that it wasn’t such a good idea after all, lung capacity being a bit thin on the ground just now.
So he opted for the ‘look after me’ stance instead and allowed the nursing staff to do whatever needed to be done to improve the situation. Including, it transpires, the delivery of jugs of water at regular intervals. “You must drink more water,” they admonished. So, doing as he’s told, he is doing just that. The only trouble is, he said, is that he’ll soon be dissolving himself with the amount he’s imbibing. A ‘John solution’ – now that has a nice ring to it!!
Talking of solutions…..with Mum being a bit ‘meh’ this morning, I offered her a couple of paracetamol. To my surprise, she said ‘yes’ so I popped into our bedroom to fetch some from the bedside cabinet. On the way, I noticed for the umpteenth time and to my irritation, that a couple shoe boxes under the chest of drawers were sticking out, so I resolved to rectify the situation. I pulled them out to rearrange them, only to reveal…….. a shiny blue bag with a label on it: ‘To my darling husband, John. Enjoy! All my love Anne.’ Oh. Ahhhhh…… erm…….very red face.
I took a photo of the bag and sent it to John. ‘What’s this?’ I asked. ‘Headlining?’ he responded. Might be…might be….
And so, after having bought a new headlining for the Lotus because we couldn’t find the one I had for him for Christmas, there we are. And there it was – in a safe place, tucked away, gift-wrapped ready for Santa to distribute. Only Santa didn’t – and now John’s got two of the wretched things. Got to look on the bright side though. As John said, ‘I’ll be able to practise on one to get it right on the other.’ Ohhh….. that’s alright then!
In other news, I wore my smug face today. After the debacle of the car not starting the other day, Malcolm asked if we’d like to borrow his trickle charger to keep the battery topped up whilst the car stands on the drive. Yes, please. He brought it round this afternoon and gave me precise instructions on how to fit it. Normally, I can’t even find where the lever is to lift the bonnet, let alone the release button on the actual bonnet itself, so I thought it might be a challenge. But no. I followed the instructions to the letter, and hey presto!! the trickle charger is fitted, and the car will be raring to go once we get the call to collect the ol’ man from hospital.
And the day finished on a very nice note. Fran had arranged a quiz evening with John’s Uni friends (isn’t just everybody doing quizzes now?) but, because John is in hospital, it was suggested that perhaps just a catch-up would be best. Well, it was so lovely to see everyone – Pete & Fran, George & Val, Nev & Jane and Kelv & Ren. We all had a good old chinwag and even John joined in from his hospital bed all evening. Fab.
Despite the fact the John is not here, leaving me feeling a little bit adrift, today has been a very comfortable day – it being interspersed with conversations with the kids and the grand kids, friends on the doorstep and comforting words from others on email or social media.
In among the official figures we recognise individual people now – John being one of the number tested for Coronavirus. Fortunately, his test came back negative. But as at 9 o’clock this morning, 4,806 people did test positive and 621 people died. It’s horrible reading and I’m praying it will decline and desist soon.
Be vigilant and stay safe everyone.
38: No longer leukaemia…but Pseudomonas…. and isolation, Day 48
When you’re busy doing nothing, where do you start to describe your day? It feels like I’ve done nothing but swan about, tinker at things and walk through treacle today. In fact, I am so tired, that I didn’t even hear John’s message ping in this morning at 6.40 a.m. as I was dead to the world! Didn’t surface until the Sunday-alarm (as opposed to the weekday-alarm) went off at 8 o’clock. Oh, dear.
It was treacle, really, from the minute I got up. Everything at half-pace. I said to John, as we chatted on WhatsApp, “I can’t think why I am so tired?” He just gave me a look – you know the sort of thing he does….. hmmm…maybe I do know why I am tired!
Anyway, the day started well, yawning my way through a chat to John (who was not feeling too bad but couldn’t remember whether he’d had his antibiotics this morning), then off to ‘church’ for which I had done the reading this week – much to my fear and trepidation. How crazy is that? I ought to know my capabilities by now but lock down seems to be sapping my confidence. You? Same? Or are you all still up and buzzing?
Good church service though, with Alison doing the Gospel and the sermon, which I really enjoyed. And I sang my heart out to all the hymns. Thank God Mum’s deaf and John’s in hospital!! No potential for embarrassment there!!
A few e-chats with friends and family, before another attempt to tackle the kitchen which, I think, has a mind of its own. How does it get into such a mess? Overnight, it seems to generate all sorts of stuff on the work surfaces with pots to wash, that I was sure I’d done the day before. It was the pesky chip-pan today though. The oil had become a bit of a murky mass, so I decided it was time to give it a jolly good clean-up. It seemed to take hours. And it’s not finished yet. Bits of it are still in the dishwasher and I’ve got to put it all back together tomorrow. Let’s hope I can remember which screw goes in where.
Must’ve exhausted myself with all that scrubbing of the chip pan though, because no sooner had I sat in an easy chair after lunch than I fell asleep. Mum woke me up with “Are you asleep, Anne?” Well, yes, I had dropped off but now you’ve asked, I’m awake. Pottered about a bit then, tackling the chip pan once more, before having another little sit down with a cup of tea….and fell asleep again. Woke up this time to John calling on the mobile. Yikes! I’m awake! I’m awake! Honest!
At that point, I thought perhaps a bit of fresh air would do me good, so I suggested to Mum we have a little walk round the garden. I had my eye on the outside temperature, the clouds, and whether the trees were waving about, to gauge the reaction we might get once she got outside. Temperature: 19.5 degrees. Clouds: overcast but no rain. Wind velocity: nothing much. Good. She agreed, a walk would be nice. OK – so, do you want to put your socks, shoes and coat on, Mum? Yes. I’ll just go to the loo first…..
I watched the mercury falling as I waited for Mum to get ready. 18.5 degrees. It’ll be fine. Three-quarters of an hour later, she was ready. It’s now 17.5 degrees. Silent prayer that it won’t feel too cold….. In truth, it wasn’t. We had a lovely stroll round the garden with the exact same observations and questions as we had yesterday. “Oh, what a lovely peonie!!” she exclaimed. “Yes, it’s pretty, isn’t?” I responded. “Is there just the one bud?” she asked. “No, there are a few more – look, over here.. and here.”
But it doesn’t matter that we have the same conversation, because we also have a laugh too. The laughter is usually in response to her statement, ‘I can’t remember’, because her eyes twinkle up and she looks a bit apologetic. She always starts the giggle and it makes me join in as well. She’d love to remember, but she can’t. She’d love to have a rational conversation, but it’s gone. Ah well.
After our evening meal we watched a bit of TV – more of The Chase but this time it was The Family Chase – and then I yawned my way through another chat with John. He was insistent that I go to bed earlier. Yes, boss. So, I shall try. I think he was also feeling rather tired as he looked weary this evening and couldn’t quite remember what drugs he’d had today. The days are all blurring into one for him and it’s very hard being in a room on your own with no company other than a mobile phone. It’s also very hard being this side of the mobile phone unable to run errands, hold his hand, cuddle him or interpret for him when the medics talk gobbledegook.
But we soldier on and pray for those whose lives have been disrupted forever by the virus. The figures of people who have died as at 9 o’clock this morning is 711, with 4,399 people infected. It’s still awful, but they tell me on the telly that it’s getting better. Hope so. God bless.
39: No longer leukaemia….but Pseudomonas…. and isolation, Day 49
A quiet day today. Mum stayed in bed all morning again and I did jobs. You can’t imagine that there’s still plenty to find to do, can you? But, honestly, there is such a lot to do in our house that I think I could be here until doomsday and still not have it all finished!!
I did get the ironing and vacuuming done though – jobs I’d been intending to do since before the weekend – and I also finished cleaning the chip pan, ready to be filled with the golden liquid Malcolm brought from Sainsburys/Tesco/Wilco today. Yippee!! I do love a portion of fat, home-made, triple-cooked chips!! Bring ’em on!!
Other than that, not a lot has gone on today really. Chats to friends and family, and two or three chats to John, who wasn’t quite with it this morning but got better as the day went on. The doctor is talking of sending him home where it is a safer environment, but we are not sure when – might be tomorrow, might be the next day. They’ve got to sort out a nebuliser to come home with him and, apparently, a three-times-a-day visit from the District Nurse to continue with the intravenous antibiotics. We’ll see.
John is, of course, bored of his own company and looking forward to coming home. To give him something to do, I suggested he might like to do some online shopping, but he wasn’t quite up for that. I don’t know how you are getting on with online shopping, but we keep ordering things, the delivery date is sometime in the future, and then, as time goes on, we’ve forgotten what we’ve ordered. So, when the front doorbell rings and a parcel is waiting for us in the porch, it’s like Christmas – excitement! What’s this? Let’s open it and see!
We play that little guessing game though beforehand, to prolong the excitement. Today’s’ offering was a small parcel, which John thought might be more screws for the Lotus. But then, he had second thoughts and suggested it might be medical supplies. Well, he was thrilled at the thought of screws. I was thrilled at the thought of medical supplies. See how compatible we are?
Anyway, John was right, it was an oximeter. I had been fretting before he went into hospital about his breathing, and then heard some good advice about measuring oxygen levels in the blood for those with COVID-19, to pre-empt a serious situation going unrecognised. So, of course, I had to have one! I am sure it’ll come in handy – along with all the other bits of equipment we’ve got here, with more arriving imminently, apparently…..
On a different note, routine has not fully established itself in our household. We still seem to lurch from one thing to the next without any real structure to the day. This includes Mum, who can’t make up her mind as to when to get up, when to eat and when to have a cup of tea. However, you could have knocked me down with a feather today when I suggested to her that we have a little walk in the garden, to which she replied, “Yes, that will be lovely. I’ve been thinking that I haven’t had my walk yet today.” Crikey! It was only just over a week ago that she was whining about the idea of such a thing! Mind you, tomorrow might be a different story…and it does depend on the weather…..
With the weather looking up for the next few days, it may be that I’ll entice Mum out in the garden again, and hopefully, it’ll be good for John’s recovery to get some Vitamin D too, once he’s home.
Talking of things looking up, it seems that official figures relating to the virus are on a downward trajectory, with 3,985 people having tested positive as at 9 o’clock this morning, and 525 people having died. The downward trend is better news.
But what is news to me is that several people in the village have died of it. Being isolated, I hadn’t realised it was in the village itself, until I chatted to one of the ladies from church on Sunday, who has had it. Crumbs. I thought it hadn’t reached our backdoor yet. Just shows.
Peace be with you all.
Like a steam train, our day gathered pace and thundered to midnight. It started very quietly, but then gained some traction with a sprinkling of hope; which turned into to waiting; then became reality; and JOHN IS HOME!!
Albeit the delight in being home was tempered by all sorts of not-so-nice stuff, with a diversion on the way back as the A452 was closed, and then a brace of nurses which was waiting for John as we pulled up outside the house, to administer the nightly dose of intravenous antibiotics – and the news that they’d be back at 7 a.m., 2.p.m., and 9 p.m. daily for the next ten days. And not only that, he’d had a frustrating day. So, euphoria was not the first emotion he felt as he stepped over the threshold.
Being cooped up in a room on his own for six days, had John climbing the walls. And then there felt nothing worse than one of the medical team telling him they were preparing everything to send him home today, only to find that the preparations were at a snail’s pace and took nearly nine hours after the initial alert, before the release looked like a reality.
Anyway, at 8.30 this evening, I got the call, and I shot off as soon as I could to pick him up. We arrived back home just after ten and the nurses were already waiting, so we bundled into the house and into a very messy dining room, where the nurses fought their way through the bits and pieces on the table to set out their medicine stall and do their stuff. By eleven o’clock they had left, and it was time to hit the bottle and relieve all those pent-up feelings.
Whilst John had a frustrating day waiting to be let out, my day was mild and gentle until tea-time. It was like this….
As John always says, jobs aren’t always as simple as you think they are in the handyman trade and, if a customer said, “I just want….” then you knew you were in trouble. Well, I just wanted to paint the windowsill in the porch.
I had bought some chalk paint to slap onto the windowsill, minimum effort. “Give it a light rub down.” John advised. So, I got my sandpaper and rubbed. Ha! The varnished peeled off like sunburned skin, leaving a bit here but nothing there, like a patchwork. Hmmmm….. ‘OK’, I said to myself, ‘no worries, I’ll use John’s electric sander to sand it down to the wood. I think you can slap chalk paint onto bare wood.’ John’s sander is now my new favourite toy. Did the job a treat.
Then I read the instructions on the paint tin. Oh. It’s not chalk paint at all. It’s satin paint. Needs an undercoat. Grrrr…… I could hear John’s words in my head…’not as simple as you think!!’ Anyway, the job is started but not finished.
It’s not finished because I had a little break at tea-time. Well, intended to have a little break, but it turned out to be a big break because Mum had a ‘turn’. We had just sat down to eat our tea, and Mum had enjoyed a few mouthfuls when she suddenly said she’d got a pain in her chest, and she started rubbing just along the breastbone. “I think I’ve got a bit of indigestion,” she said. She started to sweat. Then the pain transferred to her lower chest and she felt breathless. Then her left arm felt funny and hot. I took her blood pressure and it was a bit high. “Are you sure it’s indigestion, Mum? Do you want to walk round the kitchen to see if it’ll ease?” She took two steps and put her hand to her chest again and said no she couldn’t manage that. I phoned NHS 111: “Feed her with four of the aspirin tablets you’ve got, crushed up, and we’ll send the paramedics.” Oh, OK.
As it turned out, of course, she was absolutely fine. Under normal circumstances they’d have whisked her off to hospital for blood tests, but with COVID 19 around……..
As the paramedics arrived about 7.15, John was phoning to tell me he didn’t know what was going on with his release as the drugs hadn’t arrived. He’d been told that they were on the porter’s trolley and the porter was working his way, numerically, round the wards; and John was on Ward 26……. my calculations were 10 minutes per ward, which meant that it’d probably be four hours later before they finally got there! And would John come home today after all?
Thank the Lord, he is home. Just got to look after him properly now……
I couldn’t wait to get him back. So much so, that I left Mum on her own while I collected him. Gave her the landline and told her to dial 999 if she felt unwell. Hoped for the best. And all was well when we got back. As if it wouldn’t be, of course!!
And, goodness me, I didn’t watch any news today and have hardly thought about the poor souls who have been infected with the Coronavirus, or died from it, as we have been wrapped up in our own drama. However, for consistencies’ sake, the figures, without the context of having listened to the briefing today, seem to read as follows: 4,406 people are infected, and 693 people have died. Someone put me right, if I’ve misread these, please?
And….breathe……peace be with you all.
No drama today. Just a little bit of nostalgia and melancholia.
It was an early start, welcoming in one of the community nurses first thing, who dealt quickly and efficiently with administering John’s antibiotics. As it was such an early start, it felt a little bit odd throughout the day and neither of us felt quite settled. John was at sixes and sevens because he was home and should be getting on. I was at sixes and sevens because he was home and I did get on with a few jobs, but really wanted to just spend time chatting or sitting with the ol’ man.
For the most part though, that’s what we did. It was such a glorious day, weather-wise, that we spent a good portion of it the garden. We had a lovely lunch, and a cheeky glass of white wine, at the table and chairs in the middle of the lawn, then had a little wander round the garden – me plucking at weeds, here and there; John doing laps of the garden to ‘get fit’; and Mum, telling us that it was too cold or too hot or too bright or too windy, depending on how the mood took her at any one moment in time.
But we did have the most enjoyable half hour or so this afternoon, all together – John sitting on my parents’ bench, and Mum and me sitting on the swinging chair in the blazing hot sun, our faces and eyes shielded by our summer hats – listening to the quiet of our surroundings and the birds singing and the chimes tinkling as the breeze caught them.
And for John and me particularly, we took the time to look back at the house and thrill at the achievement of the building itself, much of which John has created from scratch over the years; and then we reminisced over the boys growing up in it, the parties that had been held both in the house and the garden, and how the grandchildren are now making the most of it – and just the vibrancy of it all. It was lovely – albeit tinged with a little sadness as lock down continues.
So I can’t wait until the lock down is over and we can have the family round once again to run around and play up and down the stairs and in and out of the house. Harriet shared a picture of Lily and Freddie messing about in their (very large) paddling pool (I wasn’t jealous at all), and I thought I’ll do the same with our own little paddling pool when the time is right. I do love a paddle, so why not? Might draw the line at playing in the sandpit though!!
Then this evening rolled up and it was Quiz Night again with our dear Centre Stage friends. I had suggested to John that maybe we’d duck out this week, but he was keen to socialise, so we took part. Between us, I think we got about half a dozen questions right, as neither of us could really concentrate, so thank goodness for the rest of the team!! It was a fun evening, as always though, and there was at least one side-splitting occasion when at least three of us couldn’t stop giggling.
Other than that, the day was interspersed with the alarm going off on John’s phone at regular intervals to remind him to take his tablets, or have his nebuliser, or take a nap, or something, as well as the comings and goings of the nurses to check up on him and pump antibiotics into him. It was a long day for him and, quite rightly, at the end of it, he felt pretty exhausted.
And once again, I haven’t watched the news. Too busy watching one or other of the members of the household to do that, so I haven’t kept up. Suffice to say, too many people are still getting infected with COVID-19 (6,111) and too many dying (649 in all settings) according to today’s official figures.
However this comes out in the wash, however they play with the figures, however much they compare the UK to other countries, each infection and each death has an impact, not only on those friends and family members in direct contact, but on the daily lives of us all. It’s too much and I pray for the day when we can stop looking over our shoulders and stop washing everything in sight!!
God bless – stay safe and sane everyone
42: Isolation Day 52
Another early start this morning, up at 6.30 a.m. anticipating the arrival of the nurse at 7.00 who didn’t actually arrive until nearly an hour later. I phoned to see where she was, but she was on her way. After the antibiotic infusion, John went back to bed for a good rest as he’d been up for two and a half hours by the time the nurse left and hadn’t slept awfully well the night before.
I decided to stay up and get on with those little bits and pieces that have been niggling away at me on my ‘to do’ list. Nothing major, but things like sorting the computer out (thanks George); cleaning the fridge out; filling up its water container so that John has cool, fresh water; mopping the utility room floor; painting the windowsills in the porch and so on.
Mundane stuff but made all the more exciting by little interludes of cat/John/Mum fun as I worked. First of all, I was just sitting nicely eating my breakfast when in charged Shadow. He fairly knocked the back door down trying to get in through the cat flap and then hurtled into the middle of the kitchen, clearly fearing for his life. I looked out of the window where I saw, sitting just outside the cat flap, another cat and recent stranger to our garden. Shadow wasn’t going to defend his territory by the looks of it. Unlike Rio last night, who had encountered the very same cat and spent a good half an hour yowling at it. One look at me though, and the visitor turned tail and ran. I had given him a Paddington-style hard stare.
Mid-morning, and it was time to winkle Mum out of bed. She wasn’t quite so reluctant to get out of bed this morning but, by the time she had got dressed, made her bed and come downstairs, it was lunchtime. Oh, the dilemma of ‘Shall I have breakfast, or shall I have lunch?’ She plumped on having her lunch – a spot of cheese on toast. Then, “Would you like a yoghurt for afters, Mum? Or one of your cakes?” Cake. It’s always cake.
After lunch it was a trip to the barbers in the kitchen. Didn’t really notice before he went into hospital that John’s hair needed a tidy-up, but when he came out, we did. So we got the pudding bowl out and off we went. Doesn’t look too bad though, even if I say it myself.
As the sun was shining and the garden beckoned, John took his new haircut and me out into the garden, where we sat on the patio bench, chit-chatting. It was lovely. It is a particular delight to me to just ‘be’ together. No agenda, no pushing to get the next thing done, no disagreement.
But there are always things to be done, aren’t there? And today was no different. While I considered digging out the compost heap to mulch round the buddleia, John did the specialist shopping as he’d managed to get a slot on the Ocado run.
I say ‘I considered’ digging the compost out but it took me a while to actually do it….. Mum was pacing in the house and looking like she needed something more than being sat in front of the TV, so I invited her out for a walk in the garden. While she was getting ready, I studied the pond – the irises, growing so big; the chickweed floating on the top; the fish: lots of black ones, a gold one, a white one and a black-and-gold one; and a newt…….. whaaaat? A NEWT!! Oh, I was very excited to see that! So excited that I had to hotfoot it upstairs to tell John immediately.
After her walk round the garden Mum and I sat on the very same bench that John and I had sat on earlier. She was happy and contented to be sitting there, and she was lucid, too, so we had a lovely time just being companionable. I mentioned to her that I was planning an assault on the compost heap and she suggested I do it while she sat and watched, so I did. Second excitement of the afternoon: you should see my compost! It’s beautiful, top quality and would win prizes, I’m sure!!
And so, to the evening – applause at 8 o’clock for the NHS and key workers, and a bit of a chat with the neighbours about whether anyone was bothering to have a picnic in their garden tomorrow afternoon for VE Day. Consensus was ‘no’ initially, but two or three thought they might if others were, so we’ll have a little go at something about four o’clock, with bunting and fizz. Any excuse for a party – even if it is socially distanced.
After the ‘clap for the NHS’ moment, I zoomed upstairs to catch up with the college crew on Zoom (see what I did there? Subtle wasn’t it?) and spent a very pleasant hour or so looking at lovely faces and talking to lovely people. Same time, same place next week, girls?
Let’s hope so. With the news that one of our former GPs, Dr Vallet, has died from COVID-19, you just never know. With 539 deaths as of 9 a.m. this morning and 5,614 people infected, there is still a lot of virus floating around. Do take care everyone.
We have switched off our functioning brains and set them to idle. With astonishing frequency, one or other of us in the household fails to compute what another has said. May have heard it, but not processed it. Sometimes, it causes us all great hilarity and we are amused at ourselves, and sometimes it causes a little irritation because, of course, the person who spoke can’t believe that the importance of their words could have been so overlooked.
I am putting my own malaise of brain-idling down to lack of chocolate. The shops are bare. “Can you order me a large bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate, please.” I glibly asked John as he did the Ocado order yesterday, not realising the horror that was about to be revealed. They are out of stock!!
An hour later, Jane, next door, texted to say she was going shopping today and did I want anything? Yes!! Chocolate!! And the gods smiled on me because mid-morning today, what should be posted through the letter box? A large bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate……mmmmm…..mmmm…..
I was galvanised by the thought of eating chocolate later on today, and therefore spurred on to prep for the VE day celebrations, climbing the mountain up to the loft to liberate the bunting. We planned to decorate our house with it and offer some to a couple of neighbours. Excitedly, I took first one bundle, then another, then another – only to find that, inexplicably, whilst in the loft and all by itself doing nothing, it had got all tangled up. So we spent a good deal of time fiddling about with bits of string, pieces of card and broken holes before finally putting a great swathe of it from the front door to the gate and back again, and then dropping the spare, untangled bundles in to the neighbours.
It wasn’t exactly red, white and blue – more pink, white and turquoise, with a bit of yellow thrown in for luck – but I liked it and I thought it had a festive feel to it. Coupled with the little table and chairs we’d set out on the drive, laid with the best gold china, a cake stand laden with goodies, and a couple of teapots each filled with tea and coffee, it felt good to be out in the warm sunshine among friendly faces. We spent a blissful couple of hours out there, catching up on the local news, and hailing people as they walked by – each of us, ultra-cautious, backing off until we were probably ten feet away from each other rather than the recommended six.
We retired into the house (which is currently trailing an acrid, smoky smell) to watch Katherine Jenkins on YouTube, singing her tribute to VE Day in an empty Albert Hall. I found it very poignant and it gave me food for thought.
But back to the house. Despite the windows and doors being open all day, the smoky smell has not gone away since the lunchtime burning of the toast. Quite hilarious really. I was getting the lunch ready and John was sous chef. He’d dropped a couple of slices of bread into the toaster for Mum but wasn’t satisfied that they were golden enough, so popped them back in again. In the meantime, the doorbell rang, and I spent a few minutes chatting to one of the women from church when, all of a sudden, I could smell burning, the smoke alarm was going off and all hell was let loose!! Heaven knows what the toaster thought it was doing, but it certainly didn’t pop up when the toast reached a certain temperature. I think the toast was actually on fire as John pulled it from the toaster and plopped it into the sink. Lunch will be delayed by a few minutes, Mum…..
It was a good day. Mum joined in with whatever we were doing, John didn’t feel too bad and had a good old chinwag with the locals and I felt content that we had ‘normalised’ a little bit. Naturally, being a worry-guts, I am now wondering if we did the right thing sitting outside and hoping we didn’t get too near to anybody, after I overheard the next-but-one neighbour telling my next door neighbour, just before we said goodbye for the evening, that her husband was in bed with a temperature and he probably has (formally un-diagnosed) the virus. Whaaaat??? You’re telling me this now? Eeeesh……
Ah, well, too late to do anything about it now.
Take care everyone – one slip-up could make us one of the statistics with yesterday’s official figures, as at 9 a.m. this morning, being 4,649 infectees and 626 dead. Still sobering numbers.
The day has run away with us today at times, then stalled a bit, then run away again. Mostly feeling like it was hurtling downhill with no way of stopping it. But we’ve slowed as bedtime beckons and we’re (hopefully) now pulling into a siding for a breather. Are you ready (and got time for) for the ride?
It’s always an early start now as the nurses arrive to administer John’s antibiotics at 7 o’clock in the morning. This morning, though, John was up to dealing with it all himself, so I stayed in bed, drinking tea until about a quarter past seven. I got up and planned to spend a few minutes doing ‘Mindfulness’ meditation before settling down to a bit of yoga. I’d just started when John rang me from downstairs. Oh, blimey! What now? It turned out that the District Nurse (medic number one) wasn’t able to deliver the antibiotic because there was/is a kink in the line in John’s arm – and she didn’t feel competent to insert another canula as it’d been two years since she’d done one, having been on maternity leave.
What should we do? She made some frantic phone calls. There was no-one on duty with the competence to insert a cannula at that time in the morning. Best bet? Let’s get a non-emergency ambulance crew to come along and do the job. OK then, we’ll wait.
A ‘nee-naw’ turned up, paramedics pounding down the path, just at the same time as Malcolm was dropping off a spot of shopping – can’t stop to talk…… “What’s your problem, then?” they (medics numbers two and three) kindly asked. We explained. “Oh. We thought we were taking you down to Warwick Hospital.” Oooh, no…. don’t want to be trundled off to hospital if we can help it, thank you very much. “Well, we’ve never had a request like this before. Don’t think we can fit a cannula and just leave – that’s not what we do.” They checked with their seniors who looked in the rulebook. No, that’s not what they do, and they can’t leave the premises having left a cannula behind in someone’s body. And, anyway, they are an emergency crew – is there any such thing as a non-emergency crew, they wondered?
Ah……what shall we do now then? More frantic phone calls. The ambulance crew could take John to Warwick A&E and they’ll fit the cannular there? We weren’t keen. “Anne, you could take John to Heartlands A&E and they’ll fit a cannular there?” We weren’t awfully keen on that option either but, if necessary….. Still more phone calls, and they finally plumped on the option of them fitting the cannula, another District Nurse (medic number four) turning up to administer the antibiotic, and then the ambulance crew removing the cannula before they left. No leaving cannulas in anybody’s body at home by an ambulance crew.
It was a hectic morning, and we were both still in our jammies underneath our clothes. We decided against getting dressed just yet and sat out in the garden to soak up the sunshine and try and breath in some peace and quiet. We did do just that, the only interlude being a delightful ‘virtual picnic’ with Freddie and dear Paul. Oh, what a pleasure, that was. Freddie is getting more and more charming on the phone as his little piping voice tells me what he’s doing. A bit of a life raft in an otherwise choppy sea this morning.
John rested a bit while I sorted out Mum’s weekly ‘big wash and brush up’, which always takes a while because of setting her hair. But she was a bit confused today and struggled to think where the bathroom was. No sooner had I finished sorting Mum out than it was lunchtime and food prep was needed.
Lunch was a very pleasant affair, and John and I enjoyed sitting outside together. Mum, meanwhile, had gone upstairs to get a cardigan because she thought it would be cold. We had finished our lunch and I was wondering where Mum had got to, so went on a hunt. She was in the loo – ahhh, OK. But when she came downstairs again ten minutes later, she was minus cardigan. Clearly, she’d got upstairs and wasn’t sure why she was there!!
At about two o’clock another District Nurse (medic number five) arrived – this time a competent cannular fitter. So now John has two lines in…..
At about three-thirty another District Nurse (medic number four again….) arrived, just at the same time as the specialist groceries from Ocado – over which she had to step to get into and out of the house. She administered the antibiotic. All good this time. Phew.
A little bit of rest for John, then tea-time, after which he was still exhausted and went to bed. Mum hadn’t helped – nearly having a ‘turn’ at the tea table, which went off quickly, fortunately, but she decided she didn’t like lasagne after all…… I think, in what had been a long day so far, that was the last straw and John thought to absent himself for a while in case he said something he might regret.
Anyway, the evening District Nurses arrived just before 10 o’clock (medics six and seven) and busied themselves getting ready for the infusion – only to find that the cannula couldn’t. A great balloon of fluid manifested itself in John’s arm and so that attempt had to be abandoned. No worries, the nurse said cheerfully we’ll find another vein. Ha! Ha! If only John’s veins weren’t shot, we thought. Attempt number two: another ballooning of fluid. Eeeeeh, dear. Finally, and fortunately, attempt number three seemed to be successful and he is now pumped full of antibiotics. Whether the cannula will behave tomorrow we’ll see, But, it’s been one hell of a ride today.
Obviously, though, our ride has not been as bad as those who have contracted and been hospitalised with COVID-19 (3,896 infected as at 9a.m. this morning according to the official figures) or who have died (346), but we’d rather not have another day like today tomorrow please. We are ‘Cannula-nackered’.
P.S. I never did get to do my ‘Mindfulness’ meditation or yoga – maybe tomorrow? Please?
Well, a better day today – except that the dishwasher is on the blink. For some reason, it is objecting to emptying out the mucky water at the end of the cycle. We haven’t had the thing that long, but it seems to me that manufacturers are now building obsolescence into their products and nothing lasts as long as you expect it to. I’ve given it a Paddington Bear hard stare, just as I did to the cat-trespassser the other day, and I’ve given it a talking to, so we’ll see what happens next. Watch this space for the next instalment on the dishwasher, folks.
And, probably, at this point, you might find that that story is as interesting as it gets today……… oh, wait! There’s excitement at the end of the day!! Wait for it…….
We have done nothing very much at all throughout the day. John was so exhausted after yesterday’s escapades that, after he’d had his early morning dose of antibiotics (which behaved), he went back to bed and slept all morning. I ‘went to church’ and was uplifted by the wonderful piece currently doing the rounds called ‘The UK Blessing’. Actually, this piece is international, with its origin in the USA, where choirs have rendered it there, as well as in South Africa so far, that I know of.
If you haven’t heard it. I recommend that you watch it on a big screen if you can and turn the volume up!
After church, I spent a good hour making up John’s tablets which Mum said looked ‘very pretty’ as she wandered into the kitchen and hung about in the middle of it, wondering what to do next, bless her. I was thrilled to see she had got herself up, but really, she has again been a bit dopey today, not sure where anything is or forgetting what she is doing. I think the weekly effort of a ‘wash and brush up’ takes its toll for a day or two, so am hoping it’s that and nothing else.
So, she’s been fairly happy to sit in the lounge and watch whatever we’ve had on TV. I suggested she might like to come to bed a bit earlier (it would help me…….) so that her sleep pattern is improved. At the time, she thought it quite a good idea, but come this evening when I suggested she might start her move upstairs at 10.00, I was met with incredulity that I’d had the audacity to suggest such a thing! I gently reminded her that we’d talked about her coming to bed a bit earlier, but she was set that she wasn’t going just yet. “I’ll go up about half past ten,” she said, which made me laugh, “That’s the time you normally start going up, Mum!” She looked startled, “Is it?” she replied. Ah well, never mind…..
As uneventful as the day has been, in which we have generally relaxed a bit, John has begun to feel the futility of it all again, and there have been several moments when he’s muttered, “What’s it all about?” or, “What’s the point?”. A reaction, no doubt, to the troubles of the last ten days or so, when he’d been feeling so much better in the weeks beforehand, and it’s another uphill fight to be fit(ter) both physically and mentally.
All I feel I can do is maintain the pilot fish approach of hovering (and sometimes hoovering!) around him and my Mum, cleaning, tidying, feeding/watering and nurturing, and praying that things will look up soon.
Mid-afternoon meds went well with nothing untoward reported and we began to relax a bit. And, despite his fatigue, John tidied the kitchen, which I’d left a mess again – I really don’t know how to cook without leaving a trail behind me – and kept me company while I prepped the evening meal. A meal which we thoroughly enjoyed, of roast lamb, mint sauce and all the trimmings. Mum struggled with the meat. She is struggling to cut up her food now and everything has to be soft. I thought the meat was soft – it was just right for us – but not soft enough to cut through and chew for Mum. Another: Ah, well…….
The evening passed uneventfully, and I thought I’d write early this evening so that I could go to bed a little bit earlier. But hang on a minute…… I hadn’t reckoned on the ‘Sleath factor’ where just as things are going swimmingly there’s a spanner in the works.
Late shift nurses arrived and took one look at John’s arm where the cannula is and decided it was a bit iffy. Our hearts sank. Oh, no….. not again……
This was nurse number one from yesterday, who has yet to gain more experience in fitting cannulas after returning to work from maternity leave. She flushed the line through and it was OK. But she was concerned about the redness of the vein, suggesting it might be phlebitis. She thought she ought to perhaps leave it and ask another nurse from the overnight team to come and re-cannulate. She phoned a senior colleague who thought it would be OK to continue, without seeing it for herself but going on the description provided.
So, she continued but we have clear instructions that if there is any pain whatsoever in the night, we have to phone them up. Fingers crossed it’ll be OK until tomorrow. Honestly, you can’t make it up!! And if you did, no-one would believe you!!
I suppose, in a way, it’s a bit like the current situation with the virus – there are people who don’t believe that there is one and certainly not people being ill or dying. They are thinking it’s all made up and a conspiracy. Well, it’s one helluva conspiracy if it is…..with today’s official figures of 3,923 infectees and 269 deaths as at 9 o’clock this morning.
Keep safe everyone……or should I say, stay alert???….and peace be with you all.
Chocolate!! The great comforter of all things. Confused by the advice of the government? Stay in and eat chocolate. Anxious about your husband’s health? Stay in and eat chocolate. Suffering from lockdown syndrome? Stay in and eat chocolate.
What great advice and, courtesy of dear Margaret and her hubby, Chris, who called on me today to drop in a bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut, that’s exactly what I am going to do!!
I was so thrilled to get an unexpected knock on the door and see two lovely, smiling faces standing there with such a gift. I was so grateful and overwhelmed and all I could do was stutter a big thank you. Oh, and we had a virtual hug which was nice, too!!! Made my day. Thank you Margaret.
It’s been a day of grateful thanks to many, many people today.
Firstly, we have been (well, as always) grateful to the medics for their attention to detail, carefulness and reassurances in treating John. First nurse of the day reassured us that the horrible mess on John’s arm was still OK for one more infusion – and don’t worry, Joy is coming at lunchtime. Joy is the IV nurse on whom everyone seems to rely. Joy duly arrived at lunchtime and promptly and efficiently sorted the situation. New line in, old line out – bish, bash, bosh!! She returned again this evening and inspected thoroughly, administered the antibiotic and left with a reassuring wave and smile – all will be well. Thank you medical team.
Secondly, every time I have a problem on the computer, I panic. Did I click on something to introduce a virus? Is this a phishing email? Should I put my password in when it asks for it unprompted? And every time, without fail, my dearest friend, George, comes to the rescue. As he did today. And I confessed to him that I was getting less confident with the darned thing as time went on. With the wisdom he has demonstrated over and over again in all the years I have known him, he said, “It’s cabin fever. You’re just suffering from being indoors.” Well, yes, that makes complete sense. Thank you George.
Thirdly, friends and family have offered tremendous support across the e-connections. In particular, Lizzie, with soft words of understanding and advice about my Mum; Michael, echoing Lizzie’s sentiments; church friends offering prayers for better times ahead, with Dawn’s words equally resonating; and Carol, sympathising with us. Thank you, all of you.
In addition to all of that – as if my cup doesn’t runneth over enough – I was blessed with an hour’s chat on Zoom with Meg (or Michelle to me) and delighted in that easy conversation of old friends; and the dishwasher behaving itself all day – I think it was frightened into submission by the thought of us following Malcolm’s very practical advice to put a hand into its bowels to see if there’s blockage!
The other members of the household, too, have had a relatively good day today.
Mum got herself up, dressed herself before going downstairs, and got her breakfast pretty much all unprompted. She then took herself a little walk round the house to be out of earshot of the music on the radio, which was tinkering with her hearing aids adversely, and happily ate our slightly unusual food at lunchtime. Even more exciting was the fact that she sat in the kitchen with me as I prepared the Chapman Family Traditional Hotpot, and she instructed me from beginning to end. Then, while we waited for it to cook, we played a hand of cards which she thoroughly enjoyed.
John was also slightly better today and felt well enough to tackle the curtain rail in the lounge which had fallen off its perch. Mum always closes the curtains for us every evening and had had a horrible shock on Saturday evening when it fell down from a great height. Although I had had a little go at mending it, I didn’t have the time or patience just then, so it had lain limp for over 24 hours, looking a bit like we felt yesterday, very weary. Anyway, the ol’ man got up on the step-stool armed with his trusty electric screwdriver and set about pinning it together – forever – we hope. It certainly withstood Mum pulling on the cords to close it this evening, so fingers crossed it holds!!
Later on in the day, John managed a good few laps of the garden to try and exercise his lungs a bit, so things are beginning to look up. The power of prayer? I like to think so.
So prayers for every single one of us who feels like the latest advice from government has offered mixed messages and left us confused. These Sleaths are not confused because we are continuing to stay put, but….. who knows how the general public is going to respond??
Let us pray that whatever they do, it doesn’t bring a second wave of the virus. Still too many are being infected – 3,877 on the government website – and too many are dying – 289 in hospitals and 210 in all settings. Figures we believe may not show the full picture, and so everyone still needs to take the greatest care when out and about.
After living on the edge of our nerves over the weekend and having had a much better day yesterday, I think all of us felt a little bit flat today. I certainly did, having woken up from a weird dream which I haven’t seemed to be able to shake off all day. So I had another little lie-in, reluctant to face the world; but John was up and had started doing chores i.e. tidying the kitchen, before I joined him for a late, leisurely and luxury breakfast of smoked salmon, avocado and asparagus. My excuse for such a breakfast is that John’s diet dictates it……… Mum also had a long lie-in, until about 11.15, but by the time she managed to make it downstairs all dressed and looking smart, it was lunchtime, and she enjoyed an egg sandwich for brunch, instead.
After breakfast, it was lovely to see Steve, our milkman, who had come to mow the lawn. We clung to the doorway and shouted our conversation across to him as he stood, mower at the ready, mid-lawn. We put the world to rights as we always do and then, reluctantly, we let him get on with his task. Lawn looks nice and neat and tidy now. In fact, the garden is looking quite good.
With the lawn mown, we decided we really must order some more plants. Since lock down, we haven’t researched who would deliver what when, so today seemed to be the day to do it. It’ll be a ‘lucky bag’ of plants arriving I am quite sure, because I was like a kid in a sweetie shop, saying, “I’ll have one of those… and one of those…ooooh, and one of those!” Hope I’ll find the right places to plant them in.
In keeping with the idea of a rest day, I decided I would start watching the BBC3 series, ‘Normal People’, which seems to be all the rage. John had watched it on the tiny screen on his phone when he was in hospital and he recommended it, so just one episode, I thought? Well, six episodes later….. I am hooked and can’t wait to watch the rest. A binge-watch – first time I’ve done that! Mind you, there does seem to be a lot of sex in it, so I wondered how Mum might take to it – but she doesn’t seem to mind….and, of course, John was happy to watch it a second time around!
While I was binge-watching TV, John went and had a little look at his Lotus. He had a good look over the nice, new headlining (of which he’s got two sets….. long story) that is to be fitted to the roof of the car. I think it’s going to be a bit of a fiddly job, so it might take both of us to tackle it, but we’ll see. I am not sure what John was thinking, but I was thinking how good it is that he feels up to tinkering.
Feeling too lazy to cook the evening meal, John volunteered. He did a grand job of serving us a duck breast each and all the veg. The only excitement (there’s always excitement when John’s around) being a good swirl of smoke wafting through the house, setting off the smoke alarm. Duck fat always seems to do that, I find!! For Mum, however, an exquisite serving of fish fingers. It sounds like we’re holding back the ‘good stuff’ from Mum, doesn’t it? But, do you know what? Fish fingers is just what she likes. If she’d had the duck we’d certainly have been struggling from tea-time until midnight with it.
After our evening meal, I thought, “Just one more episode of ‘Normal People’ before The Great British Menu.” So I did more binging on TV this evening too. John was so knackered after doing the evening meal that he went and had a lie down in bed before the evening medication arrived.
All has gone well on the medication front today, thank goodness, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way until Friday when the last lot of intravenous antibiotics are due to be administered.
Whilst all this is going on, we are mindful that other people are living their lives too. Others, with their own triumphs and difficulties, are wondering quite how they will live in a new normal, which is atypical of our previous lives. I, too, am wondering the same thing, and feel we have been handed a prison sentence, some of it suspended but not yet……..do the time first, then we’ll see about the suspended bit.
For those with any life-threatening illness I say a prayer, daily, for them to find strength, kindness, support and calmness in the face of it. So I offer that same prayer for those who have been infected with COVID-19 or who have sadly died from it.
Government stats, which include the delay in reporting, are 3,403 infected and 627 deaths in all settings as at 9 o’clock today. However, as Malcolm points out, the stats reported daily by the NHS of deaths in hospitals, are more up-to-date and accurate, and they show a marked downturn in May, which is GOOD news. So can we say Hallelujah yet?
We’d like to say there’s never a cross word between us, but it’s not true. Although, generally speaking, since lock down we’ve managed to rub along quite well without too much disagreement – even though Mum, as an extra body, is living with us. But you know when you’re both tired and and a bit jaded? Can’t always hold on to the courtesy we’d like to afford each other. And not only that, I’m going deaf. Or, at least, I can’t always quite hear (or I don’t fully listen to) what the ol’ man is saying….which leads to misunderstandings. Oh, dear, we both say to each other, “I didn’t mean it like that!” or, “Oohh….I see what you mean, now! I thought you said….”
Today was one of those days. No matter how hard each of us tried, it was a day of misunderstandings. Fortunately, by the time the evening came, we’d sorted ourselves out and we won’t go to bed on a disagreement.
Despite the umpty-numpty of misunderstandings, we have had a reasonable day. All medication delivery has gone well – always a relief – and John has felt sufficiently well to potter about in the ‘man-shed’ for half an hour, as well as do some more investigation into re-upholstering the roof of the Lotus with his headlining. Not only that, it was our turn to be Quiz Master for our weekly quiz with Centre Stage friends and, as I had made a bit of a hash of it last time, I suggested John might like to do the questions this time, and I’d join in. So he spent some time thinking about the quiz questions today too.
For me, I focused my attention on food, household chores and, excitingly, reading some of Michael’s essay for uni. He asked me if I’d be interested in reading it, thinking perhaps I’d have other things on my mind, but honestly, it was such a welcome relief to activate those grey cells that have been lying dormant for so many weeks. I loved it. I always felt I had never been cut out for household duties but, of course, needs must so you just have to get on with it, don’t you? But offer me the chance to do something else and I’ll leap at it.
So, it was cooking, cleaning, tidying the darned kitchen again, bed changing, cooking, cleaning, tidying the darned kitchen again…..etcetera, until this afternoon when I exercised the grey cells.
However, before all of that, I had decided that, in order to give myself some head space, I would at least do half an hour of somethinglike meditation, yoga, reading, or listening to music. I plumped on one of Jaime’s latest offerings – a yoga Nidra, which is a meditation and relaxation practice aimed at inducing total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. Oh, wow!! It was powerful. So powerful, in fact, that I felt pretty good for the rest of the day. Thank you, Jaime.
Mum also went on quite well today too. She struggled to get out of bed though, citing a pain in her back, but once she was up and about she was fine. Banana sandwiches for brunch, which was even later than yesterday, and for afters? Cake. We had lots of other exciting things – freshly made fruit salad with all manner of exotic fruits; a well-made yoghurt, or strawberries and ice-cream? No, cake it had to be. Then on to TV watching and the daily menu of Tenable, Tipping Point and The Chase before she undertook her regular task of laying the table for our evening meal.
John and I rolled up for the evening quiz and everyone agreed it was a cracking one this week. John had delivered a blinder. Great questions which made us all think, and a really funny ‘quick-fire’ round for fun at the mid-way point, to which we knew none of the answers, but each answer, when revealed, made us all laugh.
I thank God for great friends and family, and today was another day proving that they are invaluable for one’s sanity and well-being. The ability to share, with no agenda; the pleasure of engaging with those we like or love, even though it’s by ‘e’ something; the resurrection of happy memories in e-conversations and the anticipation of events to come – each interaction today has reminded me that we will get through this, even though it’s tough some days and we sometimes weep over the things and people we miss.
So, thoughts go out to all those missing their loved ones today and every day – especially if those loved ones have fatally succumbed to the virus. Official data (delayed reporting) indicates 3,242 people infected and 325 deaths in hospitals, with 494 in all settings. However, the NHS 0figures show only 40 people died yesterday in hospitals, which remains on the downward trend. I feel a little sense of relief. How about you?
Previously in this series:
click on the link.
"Faith-Caves" An occasional Series from a member of the Congregation, charting her journey of faith and discovery
1: Exploring Faith-Caves
The trouble is, I don’t know you very well. I don’t know how you will receive my thoughts written here on this page. I can’t see your reaction and gauge your response. I don’t know if I will offend. I am unable to temper the words and tailor them to suit the audience in front of me.
Will I make you laugh? Or perhaps cross, with my opinions? Will I make you think? Will my words move you? I really don’t know.
And yet, I am impelled to write, to share with you the faltering steps I am taking. To share my doubts and hopes with this re-discovered church community of human beings. Some of whom are kind and thoughtful and caring. Some of whom are frail in body or spirit. Some of whom are so strong they knock you off your feet. Some of whom seem to be covering something up with their goodly works. And others, whose faith shines like a beacon – and I am warmed by it.
I don’t know what I believe. Sometimes I wholly believe in God, and sometimes I doubt. When I come to church, I often feel that I am the only person in the world who has doubts. But stunningly, when I express those doubts, how wonderful it is to find that others are also in the same boat. Not always the same beliefs and doubts as mine - although sometimes they are. But, to seize the opportunity to explore these ‘faith-caves’ and excavate and unearth truths and myths – how excited I feel about that!
C.S Lewis wrote that, bit by bit, he was drawn into Christianity. He was a young man who resisted his Christian upbringing for some considerable time after he had left the family home but inexorably, he felt he was being called to faith. Finding God, finding faith need not be a ‘smash and grab’ moment. It may not be a ‘wow’ or eureka moment. It may be a slow realisation – it might need patience. Or, for some, it may not happen at all.
Looking back, I realise a new journey started for me on coming back to church when my son got married at St Peter’s last year, and we celebrated with all their friends and the family, first in church and then afterwards in the hall. Smiling faces among regular St Peter’s churchgoers who had known my son and who knew me, also came to witness the event and enjoy the boy having become a man and husband. Their faith and excitement shone like a beacon and I was touched by it.
Bit by bit, it feels like I have been attached by a thread and slowly, slowly, I am taking steps to discover more. Maybe, like C.S Lewis, I will also find a similar firm faith in time to come.
In the meantime, I want to share my journey with you. I might not make you laugh, cross, think, or emotional, but in the sharing, I hope that it might prompt us all to explore ‘faith-caves’ and unearth the gems from them to share with each other.
Published in the October 2015 edition of St Peter’s Parish Magazine
2: Excavating ‘faith-caves’
As I take my journey to explore ‘what it’s all about’ I am discovering ‘faith-caves’, where I find gems of wisdom, knowledge and faith. Sometimes the gems I find in the ‘faith-caves’ are a part of me, previously having lain dormant, and sometimes they stem from conversations I have had with the people I meet and
their imparted wisdoms.
The ‘faith-caves’ are there to be explored and their contents revealed. The jewels in the caves are frequently un-honed, like a diamond wrested from the rock in the raw – a truth, not easy to see or understand; sometimes they are half-polished, still on the jeweller’s bench – an idea, half-formed; and occasionally they shine and sparkle as the finished article – an experience, clear and firm in its message.
Whatever I have excavated or met, challenges, or clarifies, or affirms a belief.
And this, fully-formed piece, I found in the recess of one of my ‘faith-caves’ after I had been to an evening meeting of ‘Refresh’ one day.
Chesil Beach is the most amazing bar of stones, unique in the British Isles, on the south coast just outside Dorchester. It is a favourite place of mine to walk and breathe in that salty, but sassy, sea air.
It's an invigorating walk because the ground beneath my feet is not firm, and real effort is needed to place my feet in good footholds to propel myself along. At one end of the beach there are big stones, relatively newly washed into the bar, and at the other, there are much, much smaller pebbles that have been whittled away and shunted along to settle further west. This is the Jurassic Coast, and I love to imagine that these very stones and pebbles have been witnesses to generations of animals from the extinct dinosaurs to the current race of human beings.
The stones and pebbles tell me that I am but a speck in time and space. And yet they remind me of the constancy of God's love.
‘Here,’ he is saying to me, ‘remember you are turned and shaped by the constant shift of daily life and that the shaping is for a purpose’. Chesil Beach itself serves to protect wildlife around it and in the lagoon nestling behind it, away from the turbulent sea. ‘You too,’ he tells me, ‘can form part of a larger group to serve and protect those around you if it’s needed. Make an effort to push yourself along, get a foothold in the uncertainty of life, and you can offer yourself as a tiny pebble or a larger stone to someone - both of which will make a difference. Even the smallest stone snuggles up to its neighbour to build a bigger edifice as the sea rolls in.’
As a speck in time and space, I feel comforted.
Published in the November 2015 edition of St Peter’s Parish Magazine
3: Little steps to faith
Some seven or eight years ago, my friend was invited to ‘Come Back To Church’. So she did. And she stayed.
Coincidentally, I was also invited back to church. And I did. But I didn’t stay.
Sometime later (a good while later, in fact) I found myself curious. I was intrigued to know what had made my friend stay. For, at one time, she and I had had conversations about faltering faith and doubts in dark times.
So I asked her, “Have you found your faith again then?” And she simply replied, “Yes, I have.” And she smiled. There was much to read in that smile. There was a contentment and serenity that I hadn’t noticed before. I was encouraged to find out more, but at that time not sufficiently convinced to come back to church and stay.
The contentment and serenity my friend displayed, continues to this day. That is not to say that she doesn’t do the normal human things of getting cross and frustrated with what life throws at her; and she tells me that she still struggles with some bits of the Bible and some people, but I can
in her very being, what faith is.
A couple of years ago, on one of my intermittent attendances at church, I met up with my friend and I tried to winkle out what it was that had made her stay and be part of the church community. She told me to think about the ‘Three Bs’ i.e. ‘Belong, Behave, Believe’. Well, it took me another year, and more nudging from other sources, before I stepped back into church and felt welcomed. But in that year I had learnt something: turning up is not the same as belonging.
Thus my journey started. I am, as yet, only up to my ankles in ‘Belonging’ and I’m taking incy-wincy steps on that path. I am no longer just turning up though. I am engaging, thinking, and trying to use the talents God gave me. And, in doing so, I find I am ‘Behaving’ in faith too – it seems to be a natural progression – because I have, albeit tentatively and in a small way, got involved in fund-raising for the church as well as doing some readings on a Sunday.
These very activities seem to reveal a purpose. And is it coincidence, or is it God at work that prayers are being answered through these activities? I am erring on the side of God at work – and taking another step to ‘Believing’.
How wonderful it is to reflect on that gentle, inspirational advice my friend gave me – ‘Belong, Behave, Believe’. I may only be up to my ankles, but at least I’m getting my feet wet – and I am feeling the difference in my life just now.
4: Excavating ‘faith-caves’ - Angels
When I first started to write and trace my journey to faith in October, I offered the idea of ‘faith-caves’. These faith-caves are unexplored or forgotten areas which contain what I hope are little gems of knowledge and faith – whether they be un-honed, like a diamond wrested from the rock in the raw – a truth, not easy to see or understand; or half-polished, still on the jeweller’s bench – an idea, half-formed; or the finished article – an experience, clear and firm in its message.
Whatever I have excavated challenges, clarifies, or affirms a belief. And this, half-polished, ‘still on the jeweller’s bench’, piece has been unearthed following some weeks of doubt.
Do you believe in angels? The Bible is full of them. But are they here in our modern life?
This is a question I often want an answer to (among the many other hundreds of questions I want an answer to!) and I have found people’s responses to the idea incredibly varied. There are those who say: “Don’t be so silly!” and “There’s no such thing!”.Others say “Well, I don’t know. I know they appear in the Bible but I don’t think they are around today”.And yet still others are firmly convinced that angels are present, helping us on a daily basis whenever we have a need.
I asked this question at ‘Refresh’ one evening and we took time to debate it, looking at passages in the Bible, and establishing a consensus of opinion that an angel is a messenger. If that is all angel is, then they are definitely around today.
But what if an angel is a spirit – with wings? Well, I haven’t seen many of them recently and I haven’t heard any stories of such a being appearing to anyone recently either …………………although that is not to say it might not have happened.
have experienced though, beyond the messenger state of an angel, is the goodness of people who have been appearing in my life to support us as a family. There were the women who brought us cooked dinners, when I couldn’t cook for myself; the women who did the ironing, because I wasn’t able to lift anything; the offers of lifts to hospital for me or my husband; the doctors and nurses who have been looking after us; the appearance of an old friend we hadn’t seen for some years offering to sort out our computer messes; the arrival of someone new in our lives; my ‘besties’ who remind me that I do have a contribution to make; andthe general companionship offered by people who hadn’t been looking in my direction before.
I see these people, who are providing the weft and warp of my life, as angels – and I am thankful for them. They are all bringing messages of hope, whether it’s a Christian message or simply a pragmatic, agnostic one. But is it a coincidence that they are all arriving just when I am praying for support and direction?
Now there’s another question……………
Our house is full of things that might come in handy. I keep all sorts of card, bags, paper, material, string, boxes and other storage containers; and my husband keeps all sorts of screws, nuts, bolts, washers, wood and widgets. Our house, I decided at Christmas, is
The problem for both of us, having been born not long after the end of the Second World War, is that our parents brought us up to ‘waste not, want not.’. The generation that had lived through the years of rationing miracled up a tasty meal from nothing much in their cupboards; made useful things from bits of scrap metal or wood; and kept things ‘just in case’.
We inherited the habit. And filled the house in the process. For, over the years and in honour of the habit, we have kept up a steady stream of keeping and using those ‘handy’ things to help both ourselves and other people. I learned to miracle up decent food when we thought we had nothing in and guests unexpectedly appeared; and we always have just the right bit of something when the children or friends come round: “Do you have a bag/box/chair/screwdriver/washer/widget I can borrow/have??”The answer, offered with love, is usually “Yes”.
In addition, being a romantic soul, I find myself almost incapable of throwing things out that people have given me – I remember their sentiment as the item was gifted, and feel that a bit of their, or my, soul might be thrown out with it. My husband is not so sentimental and is only tempted to keep things that are ‘useful’. Aesthetics and sentiment are all well and good, but in moderation, is his view.
So, what to do now that I have decided the house is
full? Are we to discard all those bits and pieces that we keep by on the off-chance they’ll be useful or have sentimental value? Perhaps. At least, it may be time for me let go of some of the sentimental stuff anyway. Not easy as new generations are born and I think they might be interested in some of it……………..OK, so who am I kidding?
And yet, the house might feel full, but it
isn’t. It just needs a bit of a sort out. Just like me.Reflecting on my journey towards faith and our current state and stage in life, I am coming to understand that what we have always done, we may not need to continue. Habits can be broken. What is no longer useful can be discarded, although it’s not about throwing absolutely everything away. It’s about keeping what’s still important - reflection, re-evaluation, re-visiting where I was, where I am now and where I want to be.An emerging faith is helping me do that – and, more importantly, revealing where God wants me to be.
slowly dawning that:-
It’s not always the big things that count – God isn’t always asking us to come up with something spectacular to prove our worth. Just as we have used little bits of this and that - string, screws and bits of material - to help ourselves and others, so, too, can thoughts and prayers that have been held ready and offered, make a massive difference in life’s journey – for ourselves or someone else.
We can change, - we are not stuck, we evolve. We don’t have to keep doing the same things we’ve always done. Learning and growing in faith is revealing that even a little tinkering can start the ball rolling to change the life I lead.
I can change
Throwing or giving something away doesn’t lessen the sentiment originally offered – the sentiment was there for that moment in time, and therefore in perpetuity. I realise that the removal of an item creates space – for something or someone else to enter in and, if an item is given away, the original sentiment may be shared and perhaps multiplied.
And, of course, God is love and helps us if we but ask. Now, there’s a handy truth that I am definitely going to keep and not throw away!!!
(Originally Published in St Peter's Magazine April 2016 )
Learning to pray
One of the things I find most difficult on my path to faith is prayer. I don’t really know if I’m doing it right. Sometimes, I think a supplication I have made has hit the right spot and a prayer is answered. Others have prayed for us and, I often believe, those prayers have been answered – even if it’s not the answer I was expecting! But is there a right or wrong way to pray? I’m not sure, but I am learning
better ways to pray as I walk with you all on this journey.
Among other things, Jesus taught us two key lessons: to love God with every bit of ourselves, and to love our fellow citizens just as ourselves. I have understood therefore, that in any prayer time, I really need to start with loving and appreciating God before I
ask for anything. But, to actually clear a space in my mind and allow God to enter in is exceptionally difficult. There are so many things going on in my head!! There’s this job to do; oh, and don’t forget to…………. and did I………..oh, and by the way………… And not only that, there’s all those darned emotions to deal with, which crowd in at the most unexpected moments!!!
This clamouring of thoughts and emotions, regrets and anticipations is what my yoga teacher calls our ‘monkey mind’. What a fabulous description that is! The ‘monkey mind’ tweaks at us, teases us, distresses us and sometimes criticises us. And often, it diverts us from the truth and what really matters!
In yoga and in church, I am being taught how to let go. To acknowledge the thoughts as thoughts and let them pass on by. Not to dwell on them, but to bring myself back to the present, to this very moment. How complementary is this wonderful, mindful activity to my prayer time. I am really beginning to create some space to acknowledge God before I start in with a long list of worries.
It is so easy to present to God what is bothering us, as the first thing we do in our conversation with him. And yet, I am finding, despite the overwhelming worries and ‘busyness’ of our modern life, through the practise of clearing my mind, I am instinctively able to pray that I be an instrument for God’s love – ‘not my will, but thy will’.
God’s will, it seems to me, is quite often a terribly uncomfortable challenge. However, I bring myself back to the present. What has passed, is past; and what is to come, has not yet arrived, so I pray to live
this moment and love it, whatever it brings, because it is God-given.
I am also praying for an improvement in my prayer activity – after all, supplication is not what it’s all about, I realise, but just to ‘be’ with God and enable him to guide me is treasure enough.
Growing in faith – and witness
If you do something well, it’s nice to be told. If you do something badly, it’s good to be told – not nice, but good. How else do you learn and improve if you don’t know you are doing something incorrectly or not as well as you might? And how else do you stay motivated, if you never know what you do well?
I have never been brilliant at self-starting, but once I am started I
can self-motivate. The stimulus to my return to church was a wedding – a great celebration of two lives joining together and the joy that love brings. The motivation to stay in the church community and explore more has been because of the people I have met, the sincerity of prayer, the discussions about faith, and questions answered in an honest and direct way.
The exploration of faith is harder than I thought, and behaving with faith is especially difficult -particularly as a witness. I am still unsure of so many things and full of so many questions that I wobble almost daily.
And yet, the very fact that I have questions and insufficient knowledge is, in itself, a demonstration that faith has seeded and is actually growing within me - I don’t know all the answers, but I feel that God is there, working through the people I meet. And even, in a very small way, I am beginning to bear witness to God.
For example, my grand-daughter comes with me to church – it may not last through teenage-hood as she grows out of wanting to spend time with ‘Granny’, but the foundations are being laid for her future life as she walks with God. And then, my grandson and grand-daughter are to be baptised in May – what wonderful witnesses of faith we shall all be as we all, family and friends, promise to support them.
And, in an extraordinary witness of faith that came from I know not where, I was able to encourage someone to read the Bible. He had been given it by a couple who were Christians, and he rather scathingly wondered what he was going to do with it. My response was immediate – and as a result of our discussions he started to read passages of the Bible and is still having a go today.
How do I know that my faith and witness are OK so far? Well, people in church and friends are telling me so. They are confirming the bits I am doing well. So far, so good. But what about the bits I am not doing so well? Will anyone have the courage to tell me so? I do hope, and God willing, they will – my growth depends on it.
And I pray, however horrible any feedback might be - what I am doing wrong; how I can put it right; how I might improve it; and can we share ideas? - that I learn from it, and act on it to be a better Christian and witness to God – and there are fewer wobbles!!
Originally Published in St Peter’s Church Magazine, May 2016
Love is in the air………..
I recently had a house full of
girls - well, women, to be precise - for a long weekend. My middle son is getting married in June and, mindful of the expense of hiring hotel rooms or houses to accommodate the ‘hen’ and her friends and relatives, I offered our home as the base for the springboard to whatever wacky activities the maid of honour had planned.
It was an absolutely wonderful weekend, full of fun and, of course, the mandatory nightclub visit. But what struck me about the event was the sense of thankfulness among these beautiful, intelligent women. They were thankful for the gift of friendship with the bride-to-be; they were thankful for their own friendships; the relatives were thankful for the gift of mother/daughter/sister/cousin relationships; I was thankful for the gift of love between my son and future daughter-in-law and her family. And, of course the girls were thankful for a lovely roof over their heads, that spared their pockets.
And actually, that was the thing that set me thinking. The girls and the relatives, almost to a woman, gave voice to their thankfulness and thanked me over and over again for providing the venue for the bolthole. Several told me that they, or their Mum, would have freaked at the thought of a mess, with make-up, towels, hairdryers, clothes, shoes (too many to count!!), food and drink strewn about the place with gay abandon. Their thanksgiving at what seemed to me to be a sensible thing to do, made me realise that people, not objects, are what is important in life.
I can’t explain it, but it reminded me that when there is love in the air, you know God is working among his people. Love need not be the romantic kind, but the love these women demonstrated and the freedom with which they offered it was a tremendous experience. And not only that, as I continue my faltering steps to faith, I found myself once again talking about God during the ‘hen’ weekend and the love he shows us if we can only but look and see. I am rather pleased that I am no longer quite as reserved as I was about sharing my faith with others. And I say - thank God for that and pray it may long continue!
Published in the June magazine
I was feeling so
grumpy . In fact, I was cross that the fly buzzing round the kitchen was going to get it. I whipped the fly swatter from the cupboard and started swishing round the kitchen like a mad woman, rampaging after the bloomin’ thing.
It led me a merry dance as I thwacked cupboards, windows, tables, chairs, doors and the floor. Each time, the fly flitted away, buzzing merrily on until it found the open window and swept out into the fresh air. Fly – 1; Grump – 0.
I may not have got the fly, but I felt better. The very act of charging around the kitchen dispelled the crossness I was feeling. I was rather grateful, as it turned out, that fly had not been swatted and squished. I was pleased to know that it probably lived to see another day. After all, it wasn’t the fly’s fault that I was in a bad mood!!
I can’t even remember now what I was feeling so irritated with to engender such a reaction to the fly. But I know that the response I felt to this minor irritant of gentle buzzing was out of all proportion to what it would normally have prompted.
And I also know I was feeling out of control. So many things happening in our lives – exciting and otherwise – were getting the better of me and I needed to take a moment. Once the fly had whizzed out of the window, I laughed out loud. ‘How
idiotic,’ I thought to myself.
So I took a moment and picked up the Bible to see if, on the off-chance, there was anything that might help. Oh, whoopee-doop!! One fabulous reminder that I don’t have to deal with things on my own. I am
not Superwoman and can ask for help. Good old Matthew (11: 28 – 30) recorded Jesus’ reassurance that in Him we can find rest, and He will give us a light load and an easy yoke to wear/bear.
That did the trick. The physical activity had dispelled the pent-up emotions, and the word of the Lord quenched my spiritual thirst. And for the time being, I handed over my burden of grumpiness and the ‘whatever-it-was’ that caused it, to Jesus. Jesus – 1; Grump – 0.
Published in the July/August Parish magazine
Taking a moment with God
I have taken to doing a daily walk whenever I can, to clear my head and take a moment or two with God. Every walk I have taken so far, has been a revelation for all sorts of reasons, but there was one day which was particularly poignant.
I had walked along the roadway before coming to the fields, and I duly followed the well-trodden path, until I came to a stile. On crossing the stile, I realised that there was no longer a path to be seen. It was field I hadn’t been across before and, the crops having been gathered in, a tractor was ploughing up and down and its furrows were obliterating where the path had been. I felt awkward. I didn’t know which way to turn. Should I just turn round and go back? Should I walk straight across the field? I strained my eyes to see if the path was visible further on, but I couldn’t see the direction to follow.
I decided to pick my way around the edge of the field so that I wouldn’t be treading on the newly-ploughed field and also, crazy as it sounds to me now, so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I went the wrong way. It wasn’t very easy round the edge of the field – it was very uneven, there were brambles hanging over where I was walking and they caught my clothing, and there were nettles too, still with their stings catching my ankles – and it was slippy. Despite that, it was enjoyable challenge and I relished this part of the walk. As I rounded three parts of the field, my eyes alighted on the path to take. Well, would you believe it? It was literally straight across from where I had been standing by the stile!! Well, I would know the next time I came this way, anyway!!
In that moment, I felt as if God was reminding me that no matter how difficult the path is, however many obstacles I come across, he is there; he is holding my hand; he will guide me and put me on the right path; he will allow me to find my way and gain experience from it for the future; and that the well-trodden path isn’t always the one that allows me to grow and learn, but the one that requires a bit of effort is well and truly worth it.
Published in the October magazine
11: Draw near with faith
I am a naturally critical human being – ask my husband! – often suspicious of events and people until proven otherwise. And, over the years, I have been equally critical of the stories in the bible, and been persistently questioning – how? why? where? what!!!???....and really????
I am self-critical, too, and over the last year, amongst other things, I have been thinking that my faith is small, tiny, and yet to grow. But several people have suggested to me that I am further along on my journey of/to faith than I think. So I have recently been puzzling as to how my faith
has developed over the last couple of years - was there a moment when I didn’t have faith, and then suddenly did? Was there any one particular person instrumental in the change? Was there a particular event?
Well, I am not quite sure – but probably yes to all of the above, and more.
Two particular things spring to mind, though. I have often felt like I have been swimming against the current, trying to turn a very large ship around in rough seas and seeing my goal just out of reach, just dropping over the other side of the horizon. All not true of course, but that’s how I
So, firstly, through the discussion groups I have been attending, and my attempts at prayer, I have come to understand that it is not
my will that I should be concentrating on. I understand that it is God’s will I should be enabling and channelling. I am still swimming upstream, but I have stopped trying to turn the ship and, now in ‘retirement’, I have chosen to wait for a goal to emerge rather than chasing after one.
And, secondly, I have come to recognise the power of love. Love is an interesting concept, and one which caused much debate at ‘Refresh’ one evening, but I comprehend that love is not just the slushy stuff – it can be hard/tough love too. Love is offering a helping hand to someone in need; it’s challenging one’s prejudices and facing difficult decisions for the good of others; it’s putting other people first – and I could go on, of course, because love is infinite. As is God’s love for us.
So, I am reminded of the words of the prayer ‘draw near with faith and give thanks’ for the blessings we have. Talking to each other. Sharing our doubts, fears, failures. Letting go, and enabling God’s will to be channelled in faith.
12: Life……. and God the Sherpa
Phew! This hill is tough going and this road seems very long. This race, that started out as a hundred-metre dash, is turning into a marathon! And at such times, it feels like I am running on empty.
There is such a vast quantity of life that pours in and overwhelms; a huge volume of emotions that are evoked by the largeness of life; there’s a demanding physicality that squeezes every last drop of energy; a mental mountain that challenges on a daily basis – all, and every one, appear to deplete the faith that I have gradually built up……
……. that is, until I meet someone who has a word, a gesture, a prayer, a kind thought, or an action that reminds me of, and restores me in, my faith.
It may just be a smile to demonstrate empathy; a hug to express love; a prayer to share a thanksgiving or perhaps a supplication; a gift to bestow a momentary pleasure; or an offer of labour to support a daily task. And sometimes it’s an angel/messenger offering a manifestation of the Word.
For example, I was recently reminded of the ‘Footprints’ poem, in which, in a time of trouble, the author plaintively asks, ‘Where were you, Lord, when I needed you most? I was on my own – I could only see one set of footprints. You were not by my side.’ And to which the Lord responds that, whenever there was only one set of footprints, He carried the author on his journey.
I recognise that scenario. I am sometimes burdened by the things life throws at me and I look to see if God is by my side. But no, he is not always by my side – he is often carrying me. And I am really rather thankful for that.
Published in the December 2016/January 2017 magazine
Modern Technology – love it or loathe it?
Technology is one of those things that divides us across the generations – some people love it, others hate it. I remember as a little girl, my father being somewhat bemused by the introduction of television and him stating that he wasn’t going to get ‘one of those new-fangled things’. In the end, of course, he did get one, albeit after much duress from us children!
Modern technology now includes social media – the younger generation absolutely adore it; with much of the older generation unsure what to make of it. Personally, I think modern technology and social media are marvellous. I was so thankful for Facebook when both middle and youngest sons travelled the world at different times, and popped up in a conversation with one of their friends – at least I knew they were alive!!
Thank goodness for Skype, too. How wonderful to be able to speak to my brother and sister-in-law in Australia whenever we want to. And the world-wide web and emails – gosh, how fantastic are they? Even my Mum, at the age of 89 learned how to email and google, and can now correspond with friends and relatives (especially those in Oz!!) whenever she likes and get an almost instant response.
The great thing about modern technology is that we don’t need to understand it to know it’s there. We don’t need to do anything much to access it, as long as we have the right tools – a computer and keyboard – and learn how to use it. And the more we use it, the better we get at it.
This brings me to think about God – I don’t understand how, or what or why, but I know he’s there.
And I don’t need to do anything much to access him either because, just as I find support from dispersed friends and relatives through unfathomable modern technology, I find support from God using the tools he’s offering me: a daily reference to the Bible; interaction with acquaintances, friends or relatives via whichever medium I talk to them – it might be face-to-face in the street, in a study group, at a church service, or by email, through Facebook or perhaps via an ‘app’.
I even have my Bible on an ‘app’ on my phone, so I know that whenever the need arises, like the Martini advert, I can access his word ‘any time, any place, anywhere’.
Aahhh, yes! Thank God for modern technology!!!
Published in the February magazine 2017
14: An Everyday Friend
The advantage of discussion is that you learn something, consider someone else’s point of view and perhaps modify your own views. Talking to each other is key to mutual understanding – and, just because someone else has a different point of view doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. In the current political climate there is a lot of chatter – not always discussion – and some hysteria being whipped up. Like-minded people are seeking out like-minded people to reinforce their views, and battle lines are being drawn up against those who disagree.
This has set me thinking about faith, and where, or how, God might be present among the people who are challenging each other so vociferously. Of course, I don’t know the answer. But that is the mystery of faith. The fact that I have been enriched by going to a couple of discussion groups at our church and am listening, learning, speaking, listening again and modifying my views, has meant that I no longer just turn to God in despair whenever things are going wrong and wondering where he is. I have actively brought him into my life – on the occasional Sunday at first, then more frequently on a Sunday, then with the support of the discussion groups, and more regularly reading the Bible, until now - when I watch out for God’s guidance pretty much every day.
Cardinal Basil Hulme said: “There comes a moment, which we can never quite locate or catch, when an acquaintance becomes a friend……There has to be a moment like that in our relationship with God. He ceases to be just a Sunday acquaintance and becomes a weekday friend.”
He is right. I am finding that God is no longer just for Sunday, but an everyday friend. And that is what I pray for - an everyday friend for all the people who are chattering so loudly in the world, that they may, perhaps, be unable to hear or see alternatives, and/or be oblivious to God’s presence, and thereby miss his healing hand.
Published in the magazine March 2017
15: Growing in Prayer
In the middle of the night, we often think we have our most lucid thoughts. We sometimes can’t get off to sleep or we wake up and can’t get back to sleep, and so we start turning things over and over in our minds. Worries that are magnified in the darkness are quite often solved with a sudden flash of brilliance. And we think we will manage things better the next day. And sometimes we have a little chat to God – or perhaps a little ramble……... And just the other day, a recent night-time ramble went something like this:
Here’s a question: Can we do a deal? Is that allowed? If we promise not to ask for anything for ourselves, but just ask you to look after our loved ones, would that be alright? And, because I am a loved one as well, would that mean I’d be looked after too? And, tell me, if everyone in the world asked you to look after their loved ones, everyone would be alright, wouldn’t they?
Ah!! Do you think ‘a deal’ might amount to a sort of blackmail if we say we won’t ask for anything else from you ‘but just to look after ………’??
OK, yes, I see – trying to blackmail God – that’s not right, is it? I mean, from what I understand, you’re all about love and you’re not blackmailable. But really, I promise I won’t ask for anything else if you just look after my loved ones – is that alright?”
Well, of course, in the light of day, we know what the answer is: “No, it’s not alright.”
Our prayers, more often than not, are couched in human terms because we have limited understanding of God’s purpose for us. In times of crisis or illness, particularly, we revert back to what I call ‘self-preservation prayers’ or ‘save me’ prayers. These are what I think of as childlike and immature prayers on which we fall back, when our emotional and intellectual state is challenged.
As time goes on and I walk with God more and more, I am finding experience kicks in and God works through others, sometimes answering our questions from ‘left-field’.
Then we are able to recognise that prayer is not necessarily for an immediate resolution. Our prayer is, perhaps, rather for the strength to cope in adversity; or for the wherewithal to learn from situations – good or bad; to acknowledge God’s grace; and to ‘offer him our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice, to live and work to his praise and glory’.
And I go back to that wonderful passage of writing from Paul to the Corinthians, in which he talks about love being all powerful - bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things with no end. Faith is teaching me the full resonance of what Paul says. And particularly the bit about speaking, thinking and reasoning like a child – my early faith and prayers are just this – still childish and immature ……. but I realise we can’t ‘do a deal’ with God. But we can ask him to show us the way. It is his will, after all, not ours.
(St Peter's Church Magazine, June 2017)
16: Good Intentions
Mr Castleton looked at me intently, listening. Then his eyes softened and sorrow shadowed his face. “Hmmm. Yes, I see.” he said. I stood before him, feeling flushed with shame and embarrassment. “Well, I
going to do the work at the weekend, but…….” He stopped me there. “Well, you know, Anne,” he said, gently, “that the path to hell is paved with good intentions.” And he turned away.
I was seventeen, and I hadn’t done my Spanish homework. It was an additional ‘O’ level alongside my ‘A’ levels - and I wasn’t giving it the attention it required. Actually, my excuse was pretty pathetic. Although I had done my Saturday job, and sung in the choir twice on Sunday (so naturally I was feeling virtuous), I had been out enjoying myself for the most part of the weekend, and homework had taken a back seat. It wasn’t important to me then. I wasn’t yet willing to give up some immediate pleasure for a longer-term gain.
stayed with me, but I regret to say that, I am not sure I have has it, because even now I don’t always act on my good intentions, so I have had a right royal view of the path to hell on many an occasion.
This brings me to thinking about Peter’s story. Peter promised faithfully to bear witness to his friend, Jesus, even when the chips were down. His intentions were good. But Jesus knew Peter better than he knew himself, and told him that, regrettably, Peter would pretend not to know Jesus when it came to it – not once, but three times. Peter scoffed at the idea, but there you go – yep – three times he pretended he hadn’t been part of Jesus’ entourage. And that was a jolly hard lesson Peter learned then.
Unlike me, who is still working on
on every good intention, Peter did actually build the rest of his life on that lesson learned. And, with the gospel burning fiercely in his soul, he told anyone and everyone who came across his path, that God loves us and Jesus died to save us all. He stayed true to his intention to the point of dying on the cross, just as Jesus did.
On my journey to faith, I am still like Peter when the crisis came. I
to tell everyone that God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to save us, but when the crunch comes I don’t always have courage to do so. And I stand before God feeling flushed with shame and embarrassment – just as I did before my Spanish teacher all those years ago. Still a long way to go, I think.
Published in the May magazine
Oh, by Jove, we were
tickled pink!!!! Freddie, our youngest grandchild, having taken possession of a newly-acquired second-hand play cooker-cum-kitchen sink, was plonking as many of the utensils and as much of the play food as he could find, into the play sink. He rattled them around, faster and faster. We giggled. It was making a helluva noise. He looked up, and, recognising that the giggling related to his performance on the percussion, he grinned, picked up the slotted spoon and pointed it at us as the coup de grâce . We giggled some more. Freddie rootled again in the play sink, creating yet more acoustic percussive music and, with a flourish, pointed the slotted spoon at us again. We giggled and giggled and laughed out loud.
By now, Freddie was sure of his audience and, his eyes twinkling, he determinedly set off on another rootling concert piece - to which we were now howling with laughter. Keeping half an eye on his audience and laughing out loud himself now, Freddie thrust the spoon at us once again in one final flourish.
Freddie had his moment. And oh, my goodness!! I cannot tell you just how funny the episode was to us!! Freddie certainly knew, in those few moments, how to capture an audience and play to it. And he is only just over a year old, for goodness’ sake!!
Oh, my, what bliss such simple pleasures are. The company of
people, of whatever age, is just the best!!! They fill us with love and compassion, they make us laugh, they make us cry, they lift our spirits, they break our hearts. But, no matter what, I thank God for the blessing of people around me. Whether it’s my family, my friends, acquaintances, professionals, passers-by – and even my enemies. All, all of them remind me that God’s grace is here among us. Whenever life is challenging, there is often a ‘Freddie moment’ which lifts the spirit to help me face another day with courage and acknowledgement of God’s blessings. Life’s not all bad, after all!!!
Published in the April magazine
............…. and finally, a picture of the author, doing an EasterEgg challenge!