The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Sheep May Safely Graze, but for How Long?

I had a stricken e-mail y’day from  our lovely next-door neighbour in mid-Wales to say she’d just heard the field immediately behind our houses had been sold, so now she is dreading what may be done with it, if all or any of it will be built  on, etc, etc.  She loves the may tree as so many birds congregate there (see the photo on my blog page - above - for the very tree, with a contented sheep in its shade), and I love the ponies and the sheep when they are in the field, and of course we all love our uninterrupted rural views.  I am trying not to get too down-hearted but it was a bit of a shock to add to the general stress levels of our life as it is at present.  I’ve replied not too fret too much but keep an eye out for any planning applications, especially for housing with nothing affordable for local young people.

Hey ho!  It seems it never rains but it pours when life is stressful...

The Husband says if they fill the entire field with houses and ruin the view we can get a little  house in town and a flat on the coast when he retires instead

We’ll work something out.  But it’s much more grim for Our Neighbours as it’s been their home for decades and it’s their only property.  Fingers crossed for them, eh?

Friday, 8 April 2011

And The Beat Goes On...

There's a certain rhythm to my life just now.  It's a gentle, insistent, percussive beat and it has the effect of driving everything forwards.  Not too fast.  Not too slow.  Just onwards and towards.  Towards what?  Ah, well, there's the rub.

Because towards and forwards is the future, and what shape and form that will take none can tell.

For many years I've liked the Islamic attitiude to the future tense.  A devout Muslim doesn't use it without In šāʾ Allāh (إن شاء الله) of which the Christian equivalent is God Willing.  Or DV for short (for the Latin).  Even if one has no God at the centre of one's life it does no harm to hesitate before using the future tense.  Ooop North, where I come from, older people mention their future plans and add "If I'm spared..."

We are having to do a lot of planning, The Husband and I,  but there is no point setting our hearts on an exact outcome as there are just too many variables. Too many unknowns.  Too many things utterly outside our control.  At the moment I am doing my mornings in the morning, my afternoons in the afternoon, and my evenings in the evening, and tomorrow can take care of itself.

This afternoon I have packed to go away for the weekend.  The weather forecast is good.  The roads will be dry.  We should have a nice time.  We will see Our Ma in her care home on the way out of town, miss a day whilst we are in Wales, and see her again on the Sunday afternoon.  In šāʾ Allāh.  That is a lot for one weekend. 

It's enough.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Here Comes the Sun, doo-di-doo-doo

I'd love to have been able to blog about something other than the care of the ageing/aged and residential homes and the funding thereof lately, but it's a bit difficult at the moment to get my head out of the morass of thoughts that such a huge issue creates.

However there is another Big Thing happening this week and that is the sun is back.  Not a weak or  half-hearted spring sun peeping out between clouds, but a full-throated roar of pure unadulterated sun, a summer sun, like June come two months early.  The temperatures in the Northern Home Counties hit the 20sC yesterday, and look set to pull off this marvellous feat for the rest of the week - including the weekend, which is so nice for all the poor Wage Slaves.  Better yet is that the same sorts of temperatures are expected in mid-Wales, so The Husband and I are planning to go to our house there this weekend for the first time since early March, and with a following wind and a good shove, he may even find it dry enough to cut the grass there front and back before it becomes a buttercup-studded hay meadow.

The Husband will also get his haircut, as a #1 buzz cut all over costs roughly half there what it does here, so he can have it done and add a generous tip and still come out with change from what he'd pay locally here.  The same goes for a round in a pub, not half, but perhaps 2/3rds of SE England prices. Add to that the vastly superior neighbourhood and community feel, the pleasantries in the shops and the more courteous driving habits of the locals (and the huge wide open spaces of high hills and oak tree planted river valleys) and you get a little bit of heaven on earth.  And we have a house there.  How good is that?

Our little house is the third one down of the staggered terrace

We will be retiring there one day, when The Husband calls a halt to going out to earn Our Daily Crust.  Meanwhile we do what we call practice runs for retirement, where we potter about and do a spot of light gardening and spend an afternoon on desultory small market town shopping and then in an unhurried way cook what we have bought and eat it. One or two tasks stretch out most agreeably to fill the time allotted to them, and then it is the hour for the sun to set.  If it is warm enough we can sit at our outside table with a last glass of wine and watch it slip slowly behind the hill, suffusing the valley with pink and orange and tinting any clouds a vivid yet delicate purple.

After that there might be an hour of something from iPlayer on the laptop, and So To Bed.

Blissy, innit?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

What Else Can Any of Us Say?

I have just sent the following e-mail to The Husband's Sister

Our Ma was fine when we saw her (new hair do, clean clothes, not smelly) at 3.00pm, but she was very confused about why she was where she is and how long it might last, so I have typed and printed the attached letter* and will stick it down on the top shelf of her walker with a sheet of clear adhesive plastic when we visit tomorrow.

She is tending to hunker down in her room except at meal times, we think, so we jollied her along with her walker to the TV lounge when we arrived and got her a nice cup of milky coffee.  A couple of the ladies sitting near her were less lost in their dementia than some of the others.  One in particular is quite switched on except for some random language and memory “brain farts”.  They all love The Dog. He’s a real asset to break the ice.  A few of us got very chatty.

She is doing OK.  You are NOT to worry.

We have removed all the family silver from the house, so don’t panic if you call in there.  We have left some background heating on to stop the place getting damp.  We will gradually get rid of any perishable food and get it into the dustbin ready for collection this week.

* Dearest Our Ma,

You are in a beautiful residential home called -------------------, which  [The Family] has chosen for you after a thorough search.  We think it is the best in [town] and we are sure you will be very happy there. 

Your Room is Number 5.  It is very comfortable and it has a nice bathroom attached.  You have plenty of clothes in the wardrobe and the chest of drawers if you need to get changed.  There are lots of lovely ladies who work there caring for everybody who will make sure you have everything you need.

You need to be there for at LEAST a WEEK, because the lift at your house is broken.  The engineers have taken it to pieces and are trying very hard to find spare parts for it, but it is difficult because it is so old now.  You cannot live in the house if the lift is broken.  It is too dangerous for you to use the stairs.

We will visit you EVERY afternoon.  We are looking forward to seeing you. We love you VERY much

Home from Home

Our Ma is now ensconced in the Residential Care Home of our choice.  The Family's choice, that is - not including Our Ma. When one gets to ninety-three and a half and has the short-term memory of a goldfish circling its bowl (yes, I know that's not what scientists say about goldfish these days, but the metaphor is too good to part with on the grounds of scientific accuracy) then one cannot be a party to any decision that involves comparing and contrasting, or even an explanation longer than - say - three brief sentences, as by the time the middle and end part of the process are reached the beginning is utterly lost.

So she has been presented with a fait accompli, and By Jove! how swiftly and decisively has The Family accomplished "the thing which is already done".  It's less than a fortnight since the dreadfully taxing day when we realised the time had come to move towards the residential care option as a matter of some urgency, and now she is there.  Ensconced.

I packed her clothes, toiletries, medication, a few bits of adornment like strings of beads, one or two personal items for her bedroom, and some favourite photos from the sitting room, whilst The Husband kept her occupied with repeated reiterations and rehearsals of what was happening and why.  "A week's respite care whilst the engineers assess its condition and try to fix the lift". This is the wheelchair lift that was installed a quarter century ago when The Husband's father was paralysed after an operation to relieve pain and pressure in his neck.  Our Ma, when she was first widowed, called it The Cellar, and kept spare bottles of booze and mixers in it and used it like a dumb waiter.  Attagirl, Our Ma!

Latterly, though, she has been unable to use the stairs safely, for perhaps the past five years, and so it has been her sturdy electrical conveyance between the two floors of the house.  However it is now flaky and unreliable.  She spent a long spell trapped in it (with her carer unable to open the half door to let her out) a fortnight ago, and that, as they say was IT; the proverbial straw that proved to be the final unacceptable added burden on the backs of her relations.

I shan't add much more to today's blog, as this whole matter of settling Our Ma into her new place of residence and gradually filtering the information to her that No, she's not coming home again, is going to be ongoing for the foreseeable future.  How easily this will be achieved depends on Our Ma.  How well Our Ma can cope depends on a whole host of variables, not all of which, in fact few of which, we have any hope of controlling.  And I don't want to speculate and surmise, so I will cease and desist, Dear Reader, until I have something else to say

Friday, 1 April 2011

There's a Woman Lives Next Door to Us

There's a woman lives next door to us
For whom trees are "mess",
Their leaves are litter, I guess,
And dogs are just "noise"

She is doomed to champ at the bit
And occasionally loathe the place she lives
As she has lofty shady plane and sycamore
To the front, and behind beyond the end
Of our gardens a school field skirted
With elegant silver birches, more sycamores,
May and chestnut and a gnarled old oak..

I try to tell her, but you love the birds,
And feed them.  The trees are where
They live, and but for the dogs -
A terrier both left and right of her -
The neighbourhood cats would prowl and pounce,
Your garden their jungle,
Kill the creatures you feed
Not even for food but for fun.

But no, trees are mess and dogs are noise
And she has no peace (she claims)
Because how can she sit contentedly
Whilst all the while seething and clamping shut
Her mind, her jaw and her heart
At everything outside her control?

I wouldn't want to sit next to her
When she's watching TV,
Especially The News, would you?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The Husband & Our Ma
Mother's Day 2001

I took this the first time I'd seen my boyfriend, as The Husband was then, with his mother on Mother's Day.  We hadn't had our first digital camera long, so it may have been the first photo of her I ever took.  I think I got her, and their relationship, bang-to-rights at the very first attempt.  Beginner's Luck?

Here's a couple of more recent ones, with The Dog, and The Husband, on Christmas Day 2010.  We knew what day it was, but she didn't, I am afraid, even with the plate of Christmas Dinner taken to her as a clue...

She calls The Dog "the diddly dog" and loves him with a passion.  The fact that The Dog  (with one of his humans) can visit her any time and will be adopted enthusiastically by the entire home, is one of the many things that emboldened me to choose the place we found for her and place her gently in it without delayTwo more days now until Mother's Day 2011, and the last evening she will spend in her own home.  I am glad I will have the camera to hide behind if I get a bit teary-eyed and sniffly.  Barty has plans to take his new HD camcorder  (for the same reason, I think) but I am guessing with some fizz and flowers and choccies and lots of teasing and joking we'll get though it like we get through everything - by finding the funny side as a matter of earnest priority.